When it comes to smart home technology, Amazon is one of the market leaders, and testing the Amazon Fire TV Cube it is easy to see why.
The Fire TV Cube combines the best elements of using an Amazon Echo smart speaker – namely being able to turn your TV on and off with your voice – with streaming 4K Ultra HD content.
For just over £100, the Fire TV Cube is powered by a hexa-core processor that can play Dolby Vision and is super responsive to any voice commands. The higher-end device also offers access to a plethora of apps from all Amazon subscriptions such as Prime Video, to Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Spotify, BBC iPlayer and Hayu.
A smart TV stick or device like the Fire TV Cube is a brilliant option for those who don’t already have an Echo smart speaker and want to make their home “smarter”. Or, for those who already have a number of Amazon subscriptions such as Prime Video, Audible or Amazon Music Unlimited and want a port of call for all of them.
But, does all this worth the price? Or, are the cheaper Fire TV Sticks better value for money? Here’s our Fire TV Cube review as we consider its price, streaming quality, specs and design. And, why we think the Fire TV Cube is ideal for Prime members, but those without Amazon subscriptions may prefer to spend their money elsewhere.
- What is Fire TV Cube?
- How much is Fire TV Cube?
- Streaming quality
- Fire TV Cube set-up
- Difference between Fire TV Cube and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
- Our verdict
- Where to buy
The Fire TV Cube is considerably more expensive than any of the other smart TV devices that Amazon sells, but it is more sophisticated. With Alexa built-in, the Fire TV Cube doubles up as an Echo smart speaker and can be used to control your TV, soundbar and speakers, as well as lights, thermostats and any other Alexa-compatible devices. Users get access to 4K Ultra HD content and almost every app you can think of from Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Netflix, to Amazon Photos, Hayu and BritBox.
Price: Amazon Fire TV Cube is available from Amazon for £109.99.
- Streams 4K Ultra HD content, plus support for Dolby Vision and HDR, and HDR10+
- Built-in Alexa, an intelligent assistant, that allows you to control the TV, speakers and other Alexa-compatible devices such as lights or thermostat with your voice
- Amazon Photos app allows you to show your photos on the big screen
- Apps available include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube, Hayu, BBC iPlayer and Apple TV
- Design of Fire TV Cube is discreet, but still sleek
- Great choice of apps and channels
- Good quality of streaming
- Very responsive to voice commands
- Voice control makes it simple to navigate
- No HDMI cable included
- Loud background noise caused some disruption to Alexa
- The Fire TV homepage is very Amazon heavy
Fire TV Cube is one of four smart TV devices sold by Amazon, and is the most elaborate and expensive at £109.99. The Fire TV Cube is the only one to have Alexa fully built-in, allowing you to control other smart home devices around the house, check the weather and set timers, as well as being able to switch channels, shows and turn off the TV. The other three smart TV sticks available in the UK are the Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick Lite, and Fire TV Stick 4K – all of which are priced under £50.
What does Fire TV Cube do?
Fire TV Cube gives you access to over 200,000 films and TV programmes, with thousands of titles in brilliant 4K Ultra HD, HDR, HDR10+ or Dolby Vision. It enables you to find all your various subscriptions in one place, along with apps for showcasing your holiday photos, social media, and playing music and games.
- Supports streaming in 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+
- Cast videos and photos to your TV
- Control apps, the volume and the TV itself with simple voice commands
- Control other smart home products such as lights, thermostats, plugs and doorbells
The Amazon Fire TV Cube offers 4K Ultra HD streaming and built-in Alexa for £109.99. It’s available from Amazon, as well as retailers such as AO.com, Argos, Currys PC World and Very. Its cheaper counterpart, the Fire TV Stick 4K is on sale for £49.99.
Is Fire TV Cube good value for money?
There’s no getting away from the fact that the Fire TV Cube is on the more expensive end of the scale in comparison to some 4K smart TV stick offerings. For example, Roku Premiere and Amazon’s own Fire TV Stick 4K are both more than half the price.
However, you do get Amazon’s AI assistant, Alexa, fully integrated so you are essentially getting two products in one – a Fire TV Stick and Echo smart speaker combined. And, while it does cost over £100, there are also smart TV devices out there that still cost even more such as Apple TV 4K, which has a starting price of £179.
For those who have been interested in buying one of Amazon’s smart home devices for a while, the Fire TV Cube could be a brilliant way to get two, save on space (limit the cables), and save a little bit of money, too.
There is no denying that the Fire TV Cube is sleek. The small, black box is simple in design with a blue LED light strip across the top. Unlike some smart TV sticks, it can’t be hidden behind the TV but we didn’t mind having it on show as the design and size – which is the equivalent of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange box – is unobtrusive and likely to suit any TV set-up or home decor you have.
The media player itself only has four buttons; for muting, turning the volume up, or down, and ‘actioning’ Alexa – the latter of which you’re unlikely to use as saying the word ‘Alexa’ will do the same thing. For the price, the box does feel sturdy, too. The remote has a plastic casing so is lightweight but the buttons feel solid and have a nice click.
When it comes to the design of the interface, it shares a lot of similarities with the Amazon Prime Video homepage. Even if the layout is a little alien, voice control makes finding apps quick and painless. Short and simple commands had the best result such as “Alexa, go to Netflix”. Trying to ask for specific shows on apps such as BBC iPlayer from the homepage did cause Alexa to struggle on occasion.
The homepage is quite predominantly Amazon-own content but the top bar does show all your recent apps so if you prefer to watch Netflix or Disney+ these will be easy to find even without voice control.
The Fire TV Cube specs are pretty impressive. The hexa-core processor means that Alexa is ultra responsive when it comes to actioning any requests whether that it is find an app, or pause, play, fast forward or rewind the shows you are watching.
Where she struggles is with more complex requests that jump too many steps. For example, if you ask her to turn on the TV or ask her to open an app from the homepage, she will have no problem doing that first time. Generally, background noise was dealt with no problem, though a loud washing machine did prevent Alexa from picking up our demands on occasion.
When it comes to streaming content, the Fire TV Cube is in its element. The hexa-core processor can play Dolby Vision and 4K Ultra HD, and the picture quality on 4K HDR content is sharp with bright colour. The media player has no problem taking you from the homepage to your favourite Disney+ movie in a matter of moments, with no delay or buffering time needed.
It is a shame that no high-speed HDMI cable is included for the price, but the packaging is clearly labelled to say a HDMI cable needs to be bought separately, so it should not be a surprise.
Instructions for set-up are easy to follow and fairly intuitive. From removing the package to fully set-up, the whole process took a maximum of 15 minutes. A good portion of that was taken up by updates and those fiddly tasks like entering your Wi-Fi passcode.
While a HDMI cable is not included, two AAA batteries for the Alexa voice remote are. Also in the box is a power adaptor, IR extender cable and an ethernet adaptor. The IR (infrared) extender cable is particularly useful if you intend to use the Fire TV Cube to control any entertainment devices inside closed cabinets.
When it comes to the Fire TV Cube itself, it needs to be placed away from any speakers and with an unobstructed view to you, so not inside any cabinets or behind the TV.
Once it is all plugged in, you will be prompted to set-up Alexa’s voice activation. The process is extremely simple. You are prompted to ask the Fire TV Cube to turn off your TV, and then back on again. For us, the Fire TV Cube worked first time with no fuss and continued to respond to requests without any additional set-up required.
The Fire TV Stick 4K is the next priciest Amazon Fire TV device. For £49.99, the smart TV stick slots straight into the back of your TV and provides 4K Ultra HD streaming. In that respect, you do get the same quality of streaming for over half the price.
Where the Fire TV Cube is superior is when it comes to its processor. Rather than using a quad-core processor like all the other Fire TV Sticks (Fire TV Stick 4K included), the Fire TV Cube uses a more powerful hexa-core processor. The result is the fast, buffer-free transition from homepage to your favourite Netflix shows and movies.
If it’s the hands-free voice control element of Fire TV Cube that you’re really intrigued about, the Fire TV Stick 4K might not be able to deliver. While the Alexa voice remote of the 4K smart TV stick allows you to use voice commands to play TV shows and movies, you have to press the microphone button in order to do so.
The Fire TV Cube is completely hands-free so you simply say the ‘wake word’ Alexa, followed by any command. The Fire TV Stick 4K also has a limited number of TV-related tasks that it can complete. In comparison, because Alexa is fully built into the Fire TV Cube, it can also control any Alexa-compatible devices such as Hive thermostats, Philips Hue lights and smart plugs.
For those who don’t already own an Echo smart speaker, it could be a great way to try out all the additional features a smart speaker provides without purchasing a second device. However, if you already have a smart speaker, or would prefer to use the remote to find apps and TV shows, the extra spend may not be worth it.
The Amazon Fire TV Cube provides some of the best quality streaming that we have seen. The media player can quickly transition from the homepage to playing any film or TV show without any buffering or delay. But, where it really stands apart from other Amazon Fire TV devices is voice control.
Unlike any of the Fire TV Sticks, the Amazon Fire TV Cube can be voice activated without pressing a button on the remote. And beyond turning on and off your TV, pausing TV shows, and turning up the volume, the Fire TV Cube can also be used as a more traditional smart speaker to answer queries about the weather, set timers and control other smart home devices.
Naturally because it is an Amazon device, the homepage does prioritise a lot of Amazon’s own content. However, if you are an Amazon Prime member, it is likely that you won’t mind, especially when it is promoting popular shows such as The Boys, The Walking Dead, and Good Omens. Voice control also allows you to somewhat bypass scrolling through this content straight to the channel or app you want to use., if you’d prefer to do so.
Overall, it may not be the cheapest 4K media player but it has a lot to offer for the price. If you don’t already have a smart speaker, the Fire TV Cube may be a great way to try out the features, while also getting brilliant 4K Ultra HD streaming quality.
We also enjoyed being able to see all the Amazon subscription services in one place and the Fire TV homepage provided a great base for this. It also highlighted the smaller Amazon apps you may not be aware of such as Amazon Photos that allows you to display images from your phone or tablet on the big screen – it may not end up being your most used app, but a nice addition all the same.
Streaming quality: 4/5
Value for money: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5
The Amazon Fire TV Cube is available at a number of retailers.