Halfway between the Echo Dot and the Fire TV, Amazon had marketed in 2018 its first Fire TV Cube across the Atlantic. Two years later, the multimedia box is available in France in a second generation that clearly does not lack assets.
Design and connectors
With its 8.6 cm side, the second-generation Fire TV Cube is a small, shiny black plastic box. The only notable fancy is its matte upper side, which groups together all the buttons needed to operate the device, from volume control to microphone pause, also located on the upper side of the terminal. Nothing very original then. However, this apparent simplicity is far from being a defect: not only does the Fire TV Cube fit into any environment, but it also knows how to be forgotten.
As for connections, there are several inputs on the back of the device:
- A power port
- An HDMI port, which connects the device to the TV
- A socket for the infrared extension cable for the remote control
- A USB-C port, which allows you to connect the Fire TV Cube directly via an Ethernet cable
Four connectors in total, that’s not much. For example, we would have appreciated being able to use the cube as a multimedia viewing hub, by adding a USB or SD port. But at a time when most content is available via SVOD services or digital rental, this is enough for most uses.
For its accessories, the Fire TV Cube once again plays the simplicity card. The device comes with a power supply, a Bluetooth remote control (which can be replaced by a universal model thanks to the infrared extension cable provided), and a USB-C to Ethernet adapter, to skip the Wi-Fi step. Beware, the RJ45 and HDMI cables are not included.
Putting it into operation and use
As with the Fire TV Sticks, installation of the Fire TV Cube is rock-solid. All you have to do is plug the power cable into the device and connect it to a TV with an HDMI cable. After entering the WiFi code, going through a quick startup tutorial and making the necessary updates, the cube is ready to use.
Once it is up and running, the interface is similar to the other products in the range. The Fire OS, Amazon’s in-house operating system, is present. It allows you to navigate between the different applications compatible with the device, from Disney+ to Netflix, including Amazon Prime Video, of course. There are some disappointments here, since unlike the multimedia boxes of the competition, the Fire TV Cube only displays its own content. Only Prime Video movies and series are thus proposed in the recommendations section, or continue reading. To access other applications, it is necessary to launch them beforehand, either manually or via voice command. In addition, some applications are missing, such as Salto, Telefoot or OCS for example. However, the navigation is particularly fluid and pleasant. The voice commands are very responsive, and have the merit of rarely being wrong.
Audio and video quality
In terms of audio quality, the Fire TV Cube supports several HDR standards, including HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. Regarding sound, the device is compatible with Dolby Atmos. Thanks to its HDMI 2.0 connection, it also supports 4K video streams at 60 fps. In practical terms, then, nothing seems to distinguish the Fire TV Cube from the Fire TV Stick 4K, except for the ability for the Cube to operate independently of the TV. Under the hood, we find an ARM haxacore chip with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage.
It’s no surprise that while the audio support is very satisfactory, the audio quality of the Fire TV Cube itself is much less so. Nothing very restrictive, since the latter is generally only used to acquiesce to our requests, but at this price, we would still have hoped for a little better.
Unlike the Fire TV Stick, Amazon’s Cube allows hands-free use through the Amazon Alexa voice assistant. On a daily basis, the functionality proves to be rather practical and very reactive. It is thus possible to launch its content directly by voice, but also to change the volume, ask for the time, communicate with other objects in the Amazon ecosystem … and even tell (lame) jokes. When it comes to voice assistants, each company has its own specificities. However, we must admit that Alexa fulfills its role perfectly, to the point of being completely forgotten in the room. And for those who don’t really want to be constantly spied on by the Fire TV Cube, a button on the device allows you to manually turn off the microphones.
Listed at €119.99, the Fire TV Cube is priced almost twice as high as the Fire TV Stick 4K model. That’s a bit expensive, especially since, apart from a few improvements, both devices offer exactly the same functions, both hardware and software. It’s available exclusively on Amazon, and benefits from regular discounts on the merchant site.