Amazon has unveiled Fire TV Cube, a hands-free 4K streaming media player with Alexa, allowing users to control their TV from across the room.
Fire TV Cube uses multi-directional infrared technology, cloud based protocols and HDMI CEC, that—combined with Alexa—let users control their compatible TV, sound bar, A/V receiver, and cable or satellite box.
“We believe voice makes it easier for customers to control their entertainment systems and watch the TV and movies they care about,” said Marc Whitten, Vice President of Fire TV. “And, it’s just the beginning. Amazon Fire TV Cube will only get better over time with the Alexa service always getting smarter.”
Amazon Fire TV Cube is compatible with set-top boxes from top providers such as Comcast, DISH, and DIRECTV, covering more than 90 per cent of US households with a cable or satellite subscription.
With a content-forward user interface, Fire Amazon suggests the TV Cube makes it easy to find the movies and TV shows with a more natural way to navigate and search simply by using your voice, with phrases such as ‘Alexa, find sci-fi movies’; ‘Alexa, play the trailer’; and ‘Alexa, show me more results’. It is also possible to search for TV and movies by director or actor.
Amazon Fire TV Cube is now available for pre-order for $119.99 and ships with an IR extender cable and Ethernet adapter beginning on June 21st.
Paul Erickson, senior research analyst, IHS Markit, suggests that for those consumers already committed to buying a Fire TV device, the Fire TV Cube offers distinct differentiation from the rapidly commoditising retail streaming video device market. “For those interested in both an Echo smart speaker and a Fire TV device, Amazon’s new product offers a seemingly ideal solution,” he adds. “Although more combination devices are expected from other manufacturers before the end of the year, the Fire TV Cube is the first combination device to ship in the retail streaming/over-the-top (OTT) video category, and it is a shot across the bow of Roku, Apple, Google and others in the market.”
“Past attempts with game consoles, smart TVs and other devices have shown that consumers will not necessarily use voice within the TV experience beyond an initial novelty period, unless it fundamentally improves the user experience in tangible dimensions such as speed, simplicity, ease of use or time-to-content. In most circumstances, voice loses out to the traditional remote after the novelty period in efficiency, except in time-to-content, thanks to voice-based search. Consumers have traditionally fallen back on the remote as a fundamentally faster and more efficient method of executing certain basic functions such as channel control or directional menu navigation.”
“Although there is substantial reactive fervor over the Fire TV Cube and similar devices as the first indicators of how voice will completely eliminate the remote control from the TV consumption experience, this enthusiasm is likely premature. Past behaviour indicates that consumers will ultimately decide the easiest and most efficient method of controlling the TV experience, and, depending on the situation, it will likely entail some combination of both voice and direct remote control.”
“That notwithstanding, the Fire TV Cube does provide substantial advancements in the elimination of some of the traditional friction that exists between voice interfaces and the TV experience. It accomplishes this by way of an innovative combination of cloud-based digital assistance, software intelligence and the bridging of last-mile device connectivity over IR and HDMI CEC.”
“Along with the Sonos Beam, Polk Command Bar, JBL Link Bar and a variety of other TV-connected combinations of smart speakers with soundbars and/or STBs that are expected to arrive this year and in early 2019 on the consumer and service provider fronts, the Fire TV Cube is a reinforcement of the overall trend of voice becoming a unifying interface for not only smart home control, but all modalities of media consumption,” he concludes.