Amazon unveiled on Wednesday a slate of upgrades for the Fire TV Cube streaming player, including increased functionality with Alexa voice control.
The Cube now has an HDMI input port, allowing users to direct connect cable boxes, Blu-ray players and other devices to their Fire TVs. Users can issue a verbal command to have Alexa switch between channels, rather than manually change inputs themselves.
Fire TV is getting more voice control options with Amazon’s Alexa Voice Remote Pro. It comes with two customizable buttons that can be programmed into one-touch shortcuts. For instance, Fire TV users can program a button to access a particular streaming service or channel, check the weather and more.
Losing the remote is less of a headache, as Alexa Voice Remote Pro includes motion-activated backlighting, which automatically lights up buttons when the remote is picked up in low-light areas.
Alongside hands free control with Alexa, the new Fire TV Cube touts increased app launch speeds, Wi-Fi 6E and Ethernet support and what Amazon is calling “Super Resolution Upscaling” – enhanced picture quality for HD content converted to a 4K display.
Both the Cube and Alexa Voice Remote Pro are now available for pre-order, with the Cube ($139.99) set to release on October 25 and the Alexa Voice Remote Pro ($34.99) on November 16. The Alexa Voice Remote Pro is compatible with most Fire TV streaming devices and Fire TV-enabled smart TVs.
“The all-new Fire TV Cube is a big step forward for Fire TV—it’s the fastest, most powerful, and most versatile streaming media player we’ve ever made,” stated Daniel Rausch, VP of Amazon Entertainment Devices and Services.
Voice control is one way to enhance content delivery. Virtual MVPD Philo just enabled Alexa commands for its subscribers with Fire TV, allowing users to easily pull up the shows they want to watch.
An effective voice system is another layer of user personalization, Chris Ambrozic, SVP of product management for TiVo Discovery Solutions, previously told Fierce Video. He described the marriage of voice and content discovery as “like a wormhole to any destination in the universe.”
Amazon this week also introduced a new set of smart TVs – the Fire TV Omni QLED Series. The Omni QLED TV is the first Fire TV to feature what Amazon’s calling the “Ambient Experience.”
The enhanced user experience consists of hands-free music commands, customizable widgets, motions sensors to detect when a person enters the room and other features.
Amazon in June released a Fire TV update improving user navigation, by combining the “Search” and “Find” functionalities and renaming the user library to “My Stuff” – creating a more personalized content hub.