The Amazon Fire TV Cube was last updated in 2019. Considering how quickly things are moving in the TV streaming world, doesn’t that make the Fire TV Cube old news?
I suppose so, but the Cube hasn’t been updated because it is more than fit for the purpose it was designed for. Updates would probably just result in a more expensive box that doesn’t deliver anything additional that users need, so rather than mess with their premium box, Amazon has been focusing on making their Fire Stick 4K an affordable and workable option for those looking for a budget option.
The Fire Stick 4K is around half the price of the Fire Cube, so why would you choose the Cube over the stick? While both will give you 4K streaming, the Fire Stick is a budget option that isn’t designed to do much more than that. With the Cube, you get all the bells and whistles that many people who invest in their home entertainment system are looking for.
Read on for our complete review of the Amazon Fire TV Cube and why we still think that it is a good investment in 2021.
Amazon Fire TV Cube Rating
It gains points for its sleek usability, the fact that it lets you access the main streaming services in full 4K, and the fact that you get seamless voice command and it also functions as a fully-fledged Alexa Echo Speaker. It does all this at a pretty affordable price.
It loses points because it is a bit low on memory and space, and it doesn’t provide USB or TF card options. We also wish it was a bit easier to hack the Cube so that you can add some DIY features.
Amazon Fire TV Review
While the Amazon Fire TV Cube hasn’t been updated since its second-generation release in 2019, it was state-of-the-art when it was released, and it still competes well with the newer boxes on the market.
- AmLogic S922X Hexacore CPU
- Fire OS 7, based on Android 9.0
- 2GB of RAM and 16GB of ROM
- Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi and GB Ethernet connection
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 4K Ultra HD content with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos Audio
- Unlocks all streaming services in full 4K
- Sophisticated voice command with Alexa voice remote included
- Functions as a stand-alone Alexa Echo speaker
- Built-in privacy controls
- Get DVR with compatible Fire TV Recast
Let’s start with the hardware. The Cube runs off an AmLogic S922X Hexacore, which is on par with what you would expect in a premium Android TV box, only really out-performed by the likes of the NVIDIA Shield and the Beelink GT King Pro.
It only had 2GB of RAM to work with, when some boxes are now coming with 4GB or even 8GB, but the Fire TV operating system is specifically designed for streaming, which means that it makes the most of this RAM. Fire OS 7 is based on Android 9.0, which is not the newest Android operating system but is still considered one of the best specifically for TV streaming.
The Cube comes with 16GB of ROM, which is a big step up from what you get with the Fire Stick. While you won’t want to store a lot of content on the box, at least you won’t have to worry about running out of space. Disappointingly, the Cube doesn’t have any USB slots or a TF card expansion option. You can probably purchase a kit that will allow you to do this via the micro-USB slot, but if the Cube is missing anything fundamental, this is it!
The box uses the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth protocols and comes with a GB ethernet connection cable as standard. If you want to use this with the Fire Stick, you need to purchase a separate adaptor.
One of the most important things about the Cube, and all the Fire TV devices, is that rather than running just the Android operating system, they run their own Fire TV OS. For a lot of people, this is a major drawback. Why?
First of all, you can’t download apps from the Google Play Store, you need to download them from the Amazon app store. There are fewer apps available there, but most apps that you would want for your streaming device are there. Of course, you can sideload, but not everyone wants to be bothered with that.
The other problem is that Amazon will always show you their content options first, even if those are paid-for options and you have an option that you don’t need to pay for in another service that you are already using. If you know this, it only takes a second to scroll down and get what you want, but many users just really hate this feature.
You do get a lot of benefits with the Fire OS, though. First, profiles are a standard feature. While this may seem like a small thing, if you have kids in the house or someone with very different tastes than you, this can make the browsing experience much more pleasant. It also generates an automatic TV guide, from IMDB TV and Plex on installation, but it will pull things in from any other authorized live TV apps that you install as well. While this may not be groundbreaking, it is something that is missing from the pure Android TV experience.
Another thing that Android TV boxes are generally missing is the ability to record live TV to watch later. Amazon has tried to remedy that with the Fire TV Recast. Compatible with the Fire TV Cube, it is a one-off hardware purchase that gives your 150 hours of DVR. You can read our full review of the Fire TV recast here.
It is also the Fire OS operating system that gives you sophisticated voice control, with the remote included in the package. Using Alexa as its basis, Fire’s voice control arguably works better than the Google voice control available on some Android TV boxes.
This is where the cube also separates itself from and from the Fire Sticks. While the Sticks are compatible with an Alexa smart home system, you still need an Alexa speaker if you want to add things to your shopping list, get an update on the weather, or Google something. The Cube also acts as a standalone Alexa Echo speaker. A speaker on its own can cost anywhere from $30-$100, making the Cube a very good deal.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, getting your hands on a 4K Fire TV device means that you have a device that is authorized to access Netflix and Prime Video in 4K. This is actually not something that is universal to all Android TV boxes that market themselves as 4K. These streaming services restrict access to their 4K content to specific devices, and while they do a good job of authorizing devices from big names, such as Sony, Samsung, and, of course, Amazon, they rarely authorize devices from the small producers of affordable Android TV boxes.
If you have a 4K TV, being able to stream from your favorite streaming services in full 4K can be a make-or-break feature. If you are looking at the Cube, then it is a big bonus!
Where To Buy & Who Should Buy
As you might expect, the best place to buy Amazon’s Fire TV Cube is from Amazon itself. When on sale you can expect to pay around $80 for a new Fire TV Cube, but they are sometimes listed for up to $150.
Who should actually buy the Cube? Really, it is designed for users looking for a premium but affordable streaming experience. It won’t break the bank at $80 but your entire home entertainment setup is only as good as its weakest link, and the Cube won’t be that weak link.
It delivers the premium streaming services in full 4K, has sophisticated voice command, and lets you smartify your home as it acts as an Alexa speaker. It is powerful enough to do everything smoothly and with no waiting, plus it looks pretty nice sitting in the corner of your living room.
If you want to use your TV box for Kodi or to manage your own video library, though, the Cube probably isn’t the right choice. The locked-down nature of the Fire OS operating system can make using Kodi, torrenting, or IPTV services fiddly, though certainly not impossible, but you probably want more RAM. And you will certainly want more ROM if you plan on installing your own library, plus the missing USB ports and TF card slot.
While the Fire TV Cube might seem like old news, it is still a very good investment in 2021. It delivers full 4K streaming from all your favorite streaming services, as well as seamless voice control and Alexa smart speaker functionality.
The Cube is basically a premium box with an affordable price tag that will work well for anyone who has a nice home entertainment setup and principally wants to stream from the mainstream services, rather than go DIY.
Alexa – what should I watch today?
Do you have a Fire TV Cube? What do you think of it? Share your thoughts with the community in the comments section below.