Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Entertaiment | By Mabel Barber

Amazon's Fire TV Cube kills two birds with one stone

Amazon's Fire TV Cube kills two birds with one stone

As an introductory offer, Prime members can pre-order Fire TV Cube on June 7 and 8 for a special price of $89.99-a $30 savings.

After making a request for, let's say, the Real Housewives of NY, the Cube will respond by serving up the user's cable, satellite box or some streaming apps.

"Like a trustworthy best friend, Alexa helps you nail your look every time", said Linda Ranz, director of Echo product management.

It also works with set-top boxes from Comcast, Dish or DirecTV. That's far more than the $70 Fire TV 4K stick and still pricier than Amazon's basic $100 Echo speaker.

According to Amazon, the Fire TV Cube comes with HDMI CEC, a technology that will give you control over compatible televisions, sound bars, and even cable boxes.

"You'll never guess how we came up with the name", Marc Whitten, vice president for Fire TV, deadpanned in an interview. It will also read out responses to Alexa staples like questions about the weather and can be used to control smart home devices - light fixtures and video cameras, among other appliances - that are created to play nice with Alexa.

Amazon and Google have been the two major players in the smart speaker market, but it was Amazon who enjoyed a big lead through most of this time.

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Alexa can also control the experience once you've settled in so there's no need to reach for the remote.

Last month, a family in Portland Oregon discovered their Amazon Echo had recorded part of their private conversation and then sent to someone on their contact list. This interface will look familiar to owners of Amazon's Echo Show.

Google's Assistant software is also able to answer follow-up questions on the same topic, in a near-conversation style, but Echo as yet can not.

You can turn off the microphone temporarily, too. However, the Fire TV Cube doesn't have all the smart capabilities as an Echo speaker, as it can't call anybody and it can't sync with other Bluetooth speakers. "And, it's just the beginning".

You'll be able to use Alexa to control playback, but also to search, with deep integration from some key services, including Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, ESPN and more - all without having to use a remote.

However, many have pointed out that users might want to keep their remote a little while longer.

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