Amazon’s premium remote option does very little wrong. It’s a good quality remote with a couple of added features that do improve the overall experience. It just shouldn’t exist as a standalone product.
the good bits
2 programmable buttons
Improved shape and feel
Backlit buttons in low-light
the not so good bits
Separate purchase from Fire devices
Not a huge upgrade over the stock version
Amazon Alexa Voice Remote Pro
Amazon’s Fire TV range has constantly evolved since it first launched in 2014, from the initial Fire TV Stick to the all-new and remarkably impressive Fire TV Cube 3rd Gen. While the streamers themselves are all singing and dancing one thing that’s never really had the spotlight is the remote.
Let’s be honest though, why would it? Remotes just aren’t that exciting. You unpack a fancy new device and the remote is just there. It is what it is, you get what you’re given and you move on. Or do you?
Because here’s the thing, the Alexa Voice Remote Pro isn’t waiting for you in the box. It’s Amazon’s first standalone, ‘premium’ remote for the Fire TV range and the fact you’re here reading a review about a remote means you’re thinking the same two things I did.
Do you need a pro remote? And more importantly, is the Alexa pro remote worth it?
At first glance the Alexa Voice Remote Pro isn’t overly remarkable, it very much follows the design of previous iterations without any particularly defining features. In fact I dare say most people would struggle to pick it out of a lineup of its own family tree. That said though it’s probably fair enough, an overhaul here would be for an overhaul’s sake so I’ve got no qualms with small external tweaks.
There are design changes of course, you’ve just got to go looking for them. It’s put on a bit of weight but in a pleasing way that gives it curves in all the right places and adds a slightly more robust feeling compared to past models. It’s still surprisingly thin and light mind you.
There’s two new buttons simply labelled 1 and 2 which can be programmed to your own shortcuts and the handful of preset branded shortcuts remain. What’s on these will vary by region, on my UK model these were Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Music. The 1 and 2 buttons can be assigned to open a specific app or page from the UI and while you’re only saving a couple of clicks, they’re a helpful addition and one I did find myself using pretty often.
The Alexa Voice Remote Pro also boasts newly backlit buttons which light up when the remote is moved in a dimly-lit room. It’s the kind of feature you don’t realise the value of until you’ve got it and it does make a surprising difference to the user experience. I was also impressed at the attention to detail that this backlight only activates when it’s dark enough to be of use, that’s a nice touch.
It’s a remote, it does remotey things and it does them perfectly well.
There’s not a huge amount more to say about how well the Alexa Voice Remote Pro performs, in a few weeks of testing I didn’t find anything particularly out of place. Connection is via Bluetooth rather than IR so line of sight isn’t necessary which is nice and I had no troubles with every button press registering. The matte rubberised buttons have a pleasantly tactile bump to them with an equally pleasant soft click.
Sitting pride of place at the top of the Voice Remote Pro is the Alexa button, but admittedly it’s not a button I found myself pressing a lot. I’m a pretty frequent Alexa user too, there’s a few dots scattered around my house that I use for various things but I found the experience of using Alexa to control my TV just a step too far.
The times it understood me and correctly switched to the right content was fine, but it wasn’t any quicker or easier than just getting where I wanted to go the old fashioned way. There were times however where it simply went off the rails, “Alexa, open the F1TV app” – nope. Rather than opening the already installed app of that exact name, it jumped to the store and tried to install its own thing with a completely different title. Odd.
One nifty feature I did enjoy however is the new Remote Finder, how has it taken so long for remotes to include this? Just ask Alexa “where’s my remote?” and the Voice Remote Pro starts chiming away until you press a button. It’s a helpful addition but one that does also require another Alexa device in order to use, thankfully though the Alexa app does the job too so it’s not just limited to Amazon hardware.
As a tool, the Alexa Voice Remote Pro is perfectly fine and actually has a couple of nice upgrades over past iterations. If it was simply the newest version of the remote included with Fire devices like the all-new Fire TV Cube I’d have nothing but praise. There’s a big elephant in the room with all of this however, it’s a £34.99 standalone purchase.
That puts me in a slightly strange place when it comes to a single overall rating for the Voice Remote Pro. As a unit its rating is higher than its proposition as a whole. As good as it is there simply isn’t enough extra benefit here for me to recommend you pay for a minor upgrade on a very similar remote that’s included in the box. If you’ve lost or broken your original, go nuts, it’s a good remote. But if your current remote is fine, your money is likely better spent elsewhere.