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Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Review: Fire TV Cube

For the living room, we  had an echo dot hooked up to the sound system and the harmony hub. It's great to be able to turn on everything with voice, but I didn't have a good solution for the bedroom setup.

The Fire TV Cube, however, looked like it solved the problem. You hook it up to the TV, and it has IR blasters that would control the TV, soundbar, and also do smart things like say, "Switch to Playstation" and it would set the HDMI inputs on the TV to the appropriate thing. It's even smart enough not to use its built-in speakers for music, and would be smart enough to turn on the soundbar and use it.

There are interesting limitations that I wish it didn't have. For instance, it only has a HDMI output, and doesn't have sound output (either headphone jacks or RCA output), so it can't directly output to the soundbar, forcing the device to turn on the TV to stream music to the soundbar. It doesn't have a Bluetooth hub built in, so it can't turn on or control the Playstation. Of course, to solve these problems require additional hardware, and the integrated voice control has its own problems. For instance, to turn up the volume you have to talk, which interrupts any movie you're watching.

Nevertheless, the device works for what its intended for, and works well enough that I won't be returning it. Amazon has done a good job figuring out what people want, and how to make it good enough. Recommended.

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