Amazon Fire TV Cube (2019) review: improvements on all sides

Now with Dolby Vision and sooner efficiency

The major Fire TV Dice from Amazon used to be if reality be told three products in a single: a Fire TV streaming instrument, an Alexa spruce speaker, and a universal far away for more than just a few units crooked up to your TV. It equipped the identical streaming skills as Amazon’s a model of Fire TVs, however the constructed-in microphones allowed the Dice to be feeble completely fingers-free by inform commands. It will probably well presumably possibly moreover alter cable containers, soundbars, and A/V receivers with the attend of constructed-in IR blasters. However the distinctive Dice lacked Dolby Vision HDR, and in the end Amazon launched a more affordable Fire TV Stick 4K that did own Dolby Vision for much less money, leaving the catch-everything Dice in an ungainly predicament.

So for 2019, Amazon has refreshed the Fire TV Dice to create it the certain flagship of the lineup. It’s obtained the identical true originate as sooner than, but now has Dolby Vision, a more unheard of processor, and sooner response instances. Amazon is making an try to minimize the Dice’s dependence on the cloud, with a glossy “local inform alter” feature that processes typical commands on the instrument itself. And the glossy Fire TV Dice can aloof alter your home theater ingredients and dark the spruce lights ought to you sit down down for movie night — all with appropriate your inform.

The Fire TV Dice appears to be like completely unchanged on the initiating air. It has the identical controls as an Echo speaker on high (with a matte texture) with eight shrimp microphone holes, and it’s luminous in every single set else. I catch that Amazon selected this originate for optimum IR signal passthrough, however the notify stays a enormous dust magnet alternatively.

Around abet is an HDMI output, vitality, an enter for the included IR extender, and a Micro USB port for the ethernet adapter (moreover within the box) while you wish it. You’ll are attempting to make exhaust of the thin IR extender cord if some of your home theater ingredients are out of explore or tucked true into a cupboard. Sadly, Amazon aloof isn’t along side an HDMI cable with the $120 Fire TV Dice.

Amazon recommends that you situation the Dice at the very least one foot away from any speaker. Even with audio blaring from a Sonos Beam, I stumbled on the mics to be quite stunning at selecting up my inform and the “Alexa” hotword at a typical talking volume.

Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are glossy to the second-gen Fire TV Dice; the major model handiest had typical HDR10 beef up. HDR passthrough labored appropriate stunning on my TCL TV, with the show masks routinely recognizing when Dolby Vision or HDR10 disclose material used to be being played and making exhaust of the true expanded colour and brightness settings. With all important codecs now supported, you’ve obtained heaps of choices for streaming 4K between Netflix, Prime Video, Vudu, and a model of apps. As a Fire TV, this 365 days’s Dice is objectively superior to the distinctive.

But it’s aloof handiest so-in direct a universal far away. The Fire TV Dice can alter most TVs, receivers, and soundbars — plus some cable containers You’re requested to rating your units for the length of setup, after which Alexa will know the beautiful facts of your equipment. In general, the IR emitter works properly at getting commands by to your home theater ingredients and turning everything on in sync. But for more than just a few hardware love game consoles or Blu-ray gamers, Alexa can’t catch very unheard of in any admire. The Dice will swap to the true HDMI enter, but then you’re on your beget. That’s all it is seemingly you’ll well presumably if reality be told query of from IR blasters, but firms love Caavo are attempting to catch more with on-show masks masks machine studying.

Soundless, Alexa does feel more responsive this time spherical. Native inform alter ends in certain typical inform commands being completed up to four instances sooner than sooner than, on legend of the Dice handles them without prolong and doesn’t need any attend from Amazon’s servers. The awkward cease after a inform checklist is long gone — but handiest occasionally.

Native alter works to your fashionable capabilities love navigating the UX. You’re actually telling Alexa which design to scroll or selecting a amount to delivery the app or disclose material that you’re making an try to must spy (“Alexa, play amount 5”). Apps love Netflix and Hulu had been optimized for fingers-free inform alter with these on-show masks masks numbers subsequent to picks , but that’s now not appropriate for many diverse streaming apps. In these cases, you’re aloof better off appropriate the utilization of the physical Alexa far away. And the Dice will aloof must test with the cloud for loads of commands, despite the indisputable reality that the basics are now critically speedier.

The Fire TV Dice entails the Alexa Advise Some distance flung for ought to you don’t feel love doing everything with your inform.

As for its secondary feature as a spruce speaker, the Fire TV Dice has develop to be a greater Alexa speaker thanks to persevered instrument updates. It now supports calls, inform messages, and the Drop In feature, so it’s usually on equal footing with an Echo. That you would possibly possibly possibly moreover add the Dice to a multi-room tune setup with a model of Alexa units. Private in suggestions that the Dice continuously plays tune requests by your soundbar or TV speakers; the constructed-in speaker is okay for Alexa’s inform responses but isn’t true for loads else.

Amazon says the Dice now has a hexa-core processor, and the Fire TV interface has felt fleet in my time the utilization of it to this point. But some house owners of the distinctive instrument stumbled on that it slowed down over time and exhibited an aggravating amount of pace, and I haven’t had sufficient time to rule out that likelihood. Amazon is adamant that the Fire TV Dice is now its quickest Fire TV, alternatively, whereas the Fire TV Stick 4K situation the bar sooner than. So it ought to aloof be more fixed and prepared to dawdle Kodi, Plex, and a model of apps with out notify.

The instrument skills largely suits that of a model of Fire TV units. The total apps you’d need are there, and Amazon has within the raze patched up the YouTube hole that existed final 365 days. YouTube TV is now available as properly, though Sony’s PlayStation Vue gets most standard medicine among streaming TV companies and is constructed-in without prolong into Amazon’s dwell handbook.

My fashionable nitpicks with Fire TV’s dwelling show masks masks remain: Amazon can push its originals a shrimp too aggressively, and it moreover steers clients towards Prime Channel subscriptions for HBO, Starz, Epix, and a model of networks. But ought to you gape for a model or recount movie or direct, the platform does a superb job of exhibiting you in every single set it is miles also streamed. And seeing visible responses for Alexa queries (love asking for the climate or procuring for nearby drinking places) is a pleasant touch. But these choices aren’t uncommon to the Dice; they’re now share of Fire TV OS as a total.

I mediate the Fire TV Dice makes the most sense for these which are appropriate getting started with Amazon’s ecosystem. When you own already got an Echo Dot for your dwelling room, the Fire TV Stick 4K makes more sense. It provides all of the identical Dolby and HDR beef up and charges appropriate $50. Plus, the Alexa Advise Some distance flung bundled with that instrument is moreover in a position to controlling your TV and soundbar. You’ve if reality be told obtained to need the Dice’s fingers-free powers — and its skill to drag double accountability as an Alexa speaker when the TV show masks masks is off — for the $120 to be worth it.

Pictures by Chris Welch / The Verge

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