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Amazon Fire TV Cube Review – Still one of the best streaming devices on the market, but less impressive than last year.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD was and still is one of the best streaming devices on the market. With an RRP of £49.99, at the time of launch, it was one of two devices supporting Dolby Vision and HDR10+ and a fraction of the price of the Apple TV.

The year has seen the introduction of the Fire TV Cube which takes all the features from the Fire TV Stick 4K bumps up the processing spec then shoves it inside a cube shape along with an Echo Dot.

All-new Fire TV Cube | Hands free with Alexa, 4K Ultra HD streaming media player

  • Fire TV Cube is the fastest, most powerful Fire TV ever, delivering a fast, fluid experience for your favourite films and TV programmes.
  • Control your compatible soundbar and A/V receiver; change satellite channels with your voice.
  • From across the room, just ask Alexa to turn on the TV, dim compatible lights and play what you want to watch.
  • With the built-in speaker, ask Alexa to check the weather, turn off compatible lights and more — even when the TV is off.
  • With an ultra-powerful hexa-core processor, enjoy instant access to 4K ultra HD content, plus support for Dolby Vision and HDR, and HDR10+. Support for Dolby Atmos is available on select Prime Video and Netflix titles.

It is a big upgrade, and a fantastic device, but and more than double the price of the Fire TV Stick 4K it feels less impressive. Then there is the just-launched Nvidia Shield 2019, which lowers the price of the Shield and introduces Dolby Vision and a new AI upscaling. So the price difference is now much closer, and the Shield can do most of the stuff the Fire TV can.

Disappointingly when my Fire TV Cube arrived, I had to set it up from scratch even though Amazon has the link account option. This is particularly frustrating due to my exceptionally long random password and having to input it via an onscreen keyboard. In comparison, with the Shield, you can log in via your phone.

Once you log in, you can set up the universal remote control which allows you to control both your TV and speakers via the IR equipped remote. This took just a few seconds to set up and once that was done it was also possible to issue commands to the Fire TV allowing me remote free control of the device. In reality, I hardly use this feature with the exception of switching my TV on. It is a nice feature to have, and useful for moments when you can’t find your remote.

As stated, the Cube is basically a love child of the Stick and Echo dot. So not only can you control your TV via your voice, when everything is switched off, the Cube will also provide notifications or voice control of whatever you want. This, therefore, helps justify the cost of the Cube even if the cost of a dot and a Fire TV Stick is less than this.

While I love the Echo notification functionality while my TV is off, it has become extremely frustrating with my TV on. If someone comes to the door, my Ring pushes notifications to Echo, with the Cube this pauses what I am watching, replacing it was a full-screen notification warning and plays the notification sound through my large and loud Monitor Audio speakers. It does mean I never miss someone coming to the door, but it is not a pleasant experience. I am sure there might be a way to disable this, but I can’t work out how or where to do this.

From what I can gather, the only way to stop this is to stop notifications completely, which is not really an option as I have other Echo’s that I want to continue using the notification.

Another issue I have with the Cube is the ethernet functionality, no ethernet port was forgivable on the stick, the size of it and price easily justified the lack of its existence, but not so here. You do get an ethernet adaptor, but this is the same adaptor that has been available for years running at 100Mbps. Try streaming a 70GB 4K file over your network using that. It can be done, sometimes, just about. Quite often you will run into buffering issues though. Admittedly using Wi-Fi 5 or 802.11ac fixes this issue, but Wi-Fi, in general, can be finicky and on a dual-channel SSID I have had it connect to the 2.4Ghz network over the 5Ghz network before, even though the router is right by the device.

Moving on from them gripes, everything else works well, the overall Cube experience is almost identical to the Fire TV Stick. The interface isn’t as nice as the Shield with too many adverts, but overall it works well, subjectively the whole interface feels quicker, and that could be due to the improved chipset in this new model. The new Fire TV Cube bumps that up considerably with a hexa-core ARM CPU packing four cores at up to 2.2GHz and two more cores at up to 1.9GHz.

  Fire TV Cube 2019 Fire TV Stick 4K 2018 Fire TV Cube (1st Gen, 2018) Fire TV Stick
Price £109.99 £49.99 $99 – Not available in UK £39.99
Resolution 2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps 2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps 2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps 720p and 1080p up to 60fps
HDR Dolby Vision, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG Dolby Vision, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG Dolby Vision, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG None
Audio Dolby Atmos, 7.1 surround sound
2ch stereo and HDMI audio pass through up to 5.1.
Dolby Atmos, 7.1 surround sound
2ch stereo and HDMI audio pass through up to 5.1.
Dolby Atmos, 7.1 surround sound
2ch stereo and HDMI audio pass through up to 5.1.
Dolby Audio, 5.1 surround sound
2ch stereo, and HDMI audio pass-through up to 7.1
Speaker Built-in 1.6” (40 mm) speaker No Built-in 1.6” (40 mm) No
Voice Control Far-field and near-field voice support Yes, with the Alexa Voice Remote or paired echo Far-field and near-field voice support Yes, with Alexa Voice Remote or paired Echo
Processor Hex-core
4 x Arm Coretex A73 – 2.2 GHz
2 x Arm Coretex A53 – 1.9 GHz
4x ARM Cortex-A53 @1.7GHz Amlogic S905Z 4x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 1.5 GHz MediaTek MT8127D
4x ARM Cortex-A7 @ 1.3 GHz
GPU Mali G52-MP6, 800 MHz PowerVR IMG GE8300 Mali 450 MP3 Mali 450 MP4
Storage 16GB 8GB 16GB 8GB
Memory 2GB 1.5GB 2GB 1GB
Wi-Fi 802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi – dual-antenna 802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi 802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi – dual-antenna 802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi
Ethernet No – Ethernet adaptopr limited to 10/100 No – Ethernet adaptopr limited to 10/100 No – Ethernet adaptopr limited to 10/100
Ports HDMI, power, micro-USB, wired infrared support HDMI output, micro-USB for power only. HDMI, Power, Micro USB, Wired Infrared support HDMI output, micro-USB for power only.
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.0 + LE. BT 4.2 and BLE BT 4.2 and BLE Bluetooth 4.1

It is the remote that remains one of the strong points about the Fire TV, this fully integrates with both my TV and amplifier working seamlessly as one universal remote control. Much more than can be said for the new Nvidia Shield, which only seems to want to work with the receiver.

As for watching TV on the device, it works the same as last year. Compatibility is superb,  I have experienced no issues with playing back content, including 4K. The overall picture quality is excellent, though you may need to tweak the settings. I spent over a week using my Sony AF8 OLED in 8bit mode, and I was getting paranoid there was an issue with the TV due to all the backs and greys being blotchy.

Where Amazon still outshines Nvidia is the availability of catch up services. Nvidia still lacks Channel 4 where has Amazon has the full line up. The Shield has Chromecast, but I find it much more inconvenient to use than a native app.

It is also worth noting that Amazon supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, while the Shield only has Dolby Vision.

With this interfacing with your TV, you get similar functionality to the Echo Show so can call up video footage from compatible cameras and such. As I lack any of these (apart from Ring) I have not tested them.

Overall

While I do have a couple of gripes with the Amazon Fire TV Cube, it is a superb device and better than last years, offering excellent voice control superb HDR compatibility and being one of the best streaming devices on the market.

However, I just don’t feel the 120% price increase is worth it over last year’s Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K even if you add in an Echo Dot you are paying £100 full price or £85 currently.

I am however also having some issues with the new Nvidia Shield with he audio dropping out, so as far as new streaming devices go, I am not sure which is best yet, and for the time being, I am still classing last year’s Fire TV Stick as the best device for streaming.

75%

Summary

While this is an excellent addition to the Fire TV family, the gripes I had with it combined with its price mean that the Amazon Fire TV 4K is probably a better buy overall. However, this is probably something I will inevitably re-buy during Black Friday or other sales when the price is more attractive

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£49.99

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£109.99

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Last updated on 8th November 2019 2:00 pm

Last Updated on

£49.99

in stock

1 new from £49.99

Amazon.co.uk

Free shipping

£109.99

in stock

1 new from £109.99

Amazon.co.uk

Free shipping

Last updated on 8th November 2019 2:00 pm

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Maikel Du

I worked in many technical fields, but I always resort to blogging which has become an addiction to me
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