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Amazon’s Fire TV Cube sees Alexa try its hand at being a universal remote

The Amazon Fire TV Cube is the latest in Amazon’s lineup of Alexa enabled devices. As its ‘Fire’ name suggests, this is a device designed to plug into your TV, but its enhanced Alexa capabilities go far beyond what the existing Fire TV is capable of. 

For one thing, the $120 device can listen to Alexa commands without you needing to press a microphone button on a remote — much like a traditional Amazon Echo.

But thanks to a combination of HDMI-CEC and a series of IR blasters the Cube can also control the rest of your home theatre setup.

HDMI-CEC is an existing standard that allows devices connected to your TV to control it directly. An Xbox One can turn on your TV when you use a controller to turn on the console itself, or a Blu-ray player can adjust a TV’s volume.

Pre-order: Amazon Fire TV Cube for $120 from Amazon

In other words, once you ask the Cube to play a show on Netflix it can turn your TV on in the first place before navigating to the content itself.

But the IR blasters have the potential to take this control to the next level, by having the Amazon Fire TV Cube control other devices that are also connected to your TV. In demonstrations, Amazon has been showing off how you could change the channel on a separate cable box that’s also connected to your TV.

Related: Amazon Fire Stick

The Amazon Echo-style button configuration shows off how close the device is in functionality to a smart speaker

It all sounds rather ambitious, but at launch (which is due for June 21st in the US with a UK release yet to be announced) the functionality will be more limited, restricting Alexa to more modest controls like volume and input selection. That said, with the hardware that’s packed into the box, we’re sure that future firmware updates will bring similar rapid developments such as those that have been seen with the Amazon Echo smart speakers.

If you don’t want to use your voice to control every little thing, then the Fire TV Cube will also ship with the same Alexa remote that we’ve seen with the existing Fire TV streaming devices. It’s a nicely minimalistic remote, but we could have used a pair of volume buttons since the Cube is going to have more responsibilities to deal with.

As a traditional streaming box the Fire TV Cube offers a pretty traditional Amazon Fire TV experience. There’s Ultra HD, HDR10 and Dolby Atmos support, but no mention of Dolby Vision or HDR10+ — despite Amazon having thrown its weight behind the new format.

Unfortunately a ‘traditional Amazon Fire TV experience’ also extends to there being no official YouTube app, which puts something of a dampener on the idea of the Fire TV Cube being the one home theatre device to rule them all.

Pre-order: Amazon Fire TV Cube for $120 from Amazon

As we mentioned above, there’s no word yet on a UK release, but with a US release planned for June 21st at a price of $120, we’d be surprised if the device didn’t cross the Atlantic sooner or later.

Elsewhere, the Sonos Beam was just unveiled – that’s a soundbar armed with Amazon Alexa and it can also control your TV.

Are you keen to put Alexa at the centre of your home theatre setup? Let us know @TrustedReviews

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