Amazon Fire TV Cube is the Firestick, Dot Mashup Ready to Dominate the Living Room
Sonos has been riding the rumors of a June 6 launch for a few weeks, finally unveiling their smart speaker soundbar hybrid. Wasting no time, Amazon has also unveiled their Fire TV Cube, a smart, um, smart cube that is essentially a bunch of IR blasters housed in an Amazon Alexa.
While they are definitely two entirely different products, their goal is actually the same. Dominate the living room. The middle oval on the Venn-diagram between these two products is TV control. Both products can power televisions on and off (with a reliance on the wildly underutilized HDMI-CEC spec), change the volume, jump to programs, and a slew of other commands.
But where the Amazon Fire TV Cube stands out - besides the fact that it is not a smart soundbar - is its ability to be a universal remote. The set-top box will have all the functions of an Amazon Firestick, but it can also control all the other accessories connected to the TV. And while IR blasters are, if nothing else, finicky it is still another great idea from Amazon. It's a realistic product that is utilizing a commonly accepted method of input for Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, and a host of set-top boxes. Amazon is also aiming for it to control more complex equipment like game consoles, but that is still down the line.
Amazon made sure to give the cube some lasting power with HDR10 and Dolby Atmos support, although it lacks Dolby Vision playback, unlike the Apple TV 4K. However, bundling a Firestick and Dot together deviates from Sonos' philosphy of creating a product that can stay relevant for at least a decade. Amazon is overstuffing their product, putting a lot of faith in its relevancy even in the next four or five years. Of course, that gamble didn't work out for Logitech's Link.
The Fire TV Cube is in a peculiar position. It is priced reasonably enough, offers more functionality than it's cousins, and could potentially take over the living room. It's also curious that Amazon will now be able to offer a good, better, best model to their voice control options. The main headache will presumably be teaching consumers how to get the most out of the glorified universal remote, without losing their own plot.
The Fire TV Cube is priced at $120, $89.99 for Prime members, and is orderable starting today.