Fire TV Cube Review | A Fire TV Stick replacement you can live without

The Fire TV Cube makes it easy to switch between streaming apps, but its features are limited and few Indian buyers will be able to justify the price

Updated - May 17, 2023 03:52 pm IST

Published - May 17, 2023 02:58 pm IST

Fire TV Cube Review | A Fire TV Stick replacement you can live without

Fire TV Cube Review | A Fire TV Stick replacement you can live without | Photo Credit: Sahana Venugopal

As COVID-19 raged through the world, TV entertainment systems were a godsend that kept watchers amused and engaged in the safety of their own home.

While the Amazon Fire TV Stick brought the joys of binge watching to diverse app and device users, we had the opportunity to review the Amazon Fire TV Cube that promised a hands-free experience and advanced features. Here’s what we discovered.

In the box

In the box we received, there was a Fire TV Cube, a power cord, an adapter for the Cube, a Fire TV remote, batteries for the remote, and documents for the device.

The package did not have an HDMI cable, which is required to connect the Cube to the TV. This was disappointing, considering the device’s price point.

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Design

The Fire TV Cube is small enough to fit in one’s palm and its sleek design helps it blend well with the existing home entertainment system.

The device has four buttons - a microphone mute button for privacy, volume up and down buttons, and an Alexa activation button. A thin light-up bar along the top edge glows when the volume is adjusted or Alexa is active. The Fire TV Cube has a fine mesh finish which makes it resemble a speaker.

While many promotional images for the device show a clutter-free Cube setup with minimal or even no wires, this was not the case for us. Most users will have to handle the device’s HDMI cable as well as keep the power cord connected.

The Fire TV Cube is not a wireless device, though some product pictures appear to suggest this.

The Fire TV Cube is not a wireless device, though some product pictures appear to suggest this. | Photo Credit: Screenshot from Amazon India

Considering these factors, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick immediately emerges as a cheaper, lighter, and more minimalistic solution.

User Experience

Setting up the Fire TV Cube is reasonably easy and takes around 20 minutes, allowing for some system updates. Once set up, users can activate Alexa with their voice or through the included remote. Buyers should note that the Fire TV Cube can only be used to communicate with Alexa and control TV operations. It cannot be used as an independent speaker or external soundbar.

We largely used the Fire TV Cube to navigate between apps including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Amazon Music, and ZEE5. The hands-free voice activation feature is effective, but users will have to raise their voice when giving instructions to Alexa.

Not just switching between apps but searching for specific movie/TV/song titles became far more convenient with the Fire TV Cube - though clear and accurate enunciation is a must when searching for non-English titles. The Fire TV Cube could also play and pause media via voice commands. However, the volume levels had to be adjusted with the remote, which we found troublesome. The device can answer a few basic questions and provide news updates in the same manner as the Echo Dot but is in no way a radio replacement.

When asked to play certain songs, the Fire TV Cube by default launched into a long sermon advertising Amazon Music, rather than simply pulling up a YouTube clip in the first instance. This means the Fire TV Cube is likely to be inconvenient for elderly users or those with disabilities.

The Fire TV Cube has a USB port at the back of the device. When connected to a smartphone, it began charging the device but offered no other options.

The Alexa-enabled responses were transmitted through both the TV set and the Fire TV Cube at different times, which was also confusing. Sound output through the Fire TV Cube was muffled and lacked brightness.

Though Amazon claims the Fire TV Cube delivers a superior streaming experience when compared to the Fire TV Stick, we did not observe any noticeable differences in either speed or quality. However, we did see some system glitches and audio-visual syncing issues when hitting the remote buttons quickly.

Verdict

While buyers with advanced home entertainment systems, a long list of app subscriptions, multiple TV remotes, or other smart home devices may benefit from the centralised control point the Fire TV Cube offers, the average Indian consumer may not find much use in this device.

In essence, Amazon’s Fire TV Cube is beaten out by the more affordable streaming devices from its own portfolio.

The Fire TV Cube retails at ₹13,999 on Amazon India.

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