The new Amazon Fire TV Cube is an intriguing little device. It takes the best of the latest generation of Fire TV hardware — it basically is the Gen. 3 Hire TV HDMI dongle — and combines it when an Amazon Echo Dot. And that leaves us with a device that not only is a great voice-activated assistant thing, but one that gains far more control over your living room devices thanks to the CEC and infrared support.
Have a connected sound bar? Fire TV Cube can control that. Want to switch to another input using only your voice? Not a problem.
Want to use the included remote control to easily adjust volume or handle other TV controls?
Nope. Can't do that.
The voice remote included with the Amazon Fire TV Cube is the same voice remote we've used for a long time now. It works quite well with the Fire TV. And given the prices we've been working with all this time (the Fire TV Gen 3 is just $69, not having a better remote control was mostly excusable.
But not now. Now we have a device in the Fire TV Cube that can do proper CEC control of pretty much anything physically connected via HDMI. It can turn the TV off an on by itself. It can adjust input. And adjust volume.
But you have to use your voice to do it. Not everyone wants to do that. Not everyone can do that. And, frankly, when you're in the middle of watching a movie, shouting commands (and then waiting for Alexa to execute them) is pretty much the last thing you should be doing. It kills the moment. It kills the mood. And it's solving a problem that we didn't really have in the first place. Volume buttons are a must on the remote control of any device that can do CEC. Apple gets that. Roku gets that. Android TV gets that.
Amazon needs to fix that.
It's not like there aren't alternatives, of course. You can go buy your own universal remote control and render all of this moot. Especially since the Fire TV Cube will make up for that fancy new remote not actually having voice capability. (And that you'll probably just something like the Logitech Harmony Companion from Amazon just makes this even more silly — Amazon wins either way.)
But that's also not the point. We now have a smarter Amazon Fire TV in the Fire TV Cube. It's time for the remote control to grow up with it.
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