The newest Amazon Fire TV Cube is the most powerful to date and does an excellent job as a video streaming device. With a new HDMI input it’s a great addition to any 4K home theatre setup.
the good bits
Mature new design
Excellent video performance
HDMI 2.1 input
USB-A and ethernet ports
the not so good bits
Alexa integration is frustrating
Ethernet port isn’t gigabit
Amazon All-new Fire TV Cube3rd Generation (2022)
Amazon’s Fire TV family continues to grow and there’s a new head of the table, the 3rd Generation Fire TV Cube. The latest iteration of the top end of the range brings a punchy power upgrade tucked inside a new form factor.
It’s not the only new addition either, the line up also welcomes the Alexa Voice Remote Pro, though they’ve not arrived at the party as a couple. Both are the premium option and are priced accordingly, so it begs the question; is the all-new Fire TV Cube worth it?
The Fire TV Cube has had a bit of a glow up. Five years on from its debut, the third generation of Amazon’s premier streaming device has finally matured into its skin.
The glossy black plastic shell of the first two iterations is gone and in its place is a refined new suit. The Fire TV Cube 3rd Gen is now wrapped in the same dark grey fabric as the rest of the Echo range and it makes a huge difference to how premium the device feels. There’s always a toy-like vibe to shiny plastic so I’m glad to see Amazon have made a change this time around.
The 3rd Gen has the same footprint as its predecessors, though the corners have now been rounded off which adds an extra touch of class. The familiar four Echo buttons remain on top and all the ports tucked away on the back. Alexa is still onboard and there’s a new, expanded selection of inputs and outputs with a couple of major additions.
The Fire TV Cube has always been streaming focused but Amazon now want a bigger role in your home entertainment setup. The headline addition for the all-new Fire TV Cube is an HDMI in port allowing users to connect other devices like a console or set top box via the Cube itself. There’s also a USB-A port for playing your own media from an external drive and a debut appearance of an ethernet port.
The included remote gains a few extra buttons from the one included with the 2nd Gen unit, but it’s also a step down from the newly launched Alexa Voice Remote Pro. Given the All-new Fire TV Cube’s rather steep price point, it’s disappointing Amazon weren’t feeling generous enough to include the Remote Pro in the box.
There’s two distinct elements to the Fire TV Cube Third-Generation, the streaming experience and the Alexa experience. For the most part I’m going to consider them independently of each other because they represent two very different ways to use the Fire TV Cube.
The 3rd Generation is Amazon’s most powerful streaming device ever and it’s immediately evident. I’ve used a Fire Stick 4K as a daily driver over the last couple of years and the bump in performance is a night and day difference. Navigating through menus is super snappy and no matter how quickly I tried to jump from app to app the Fire TV Cube never stuttered.
The menu remains the Tokyo rush hour of UIs that it’s been for a while now and it’s an overwhelming experience to say the least. It feels like it’s optimised to show as much of what Amazon want you to see, rather than what a user wants access to. Yes, you can eventually find what you wanted all along, but you need to squeeze past a lot of what you didn’t to get there.
Once you’ve made it into a streaming app though the Fire TV Cube 3rd Generation is top shelf. It handles 4K content with ease and there’s support for Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and HDR10+ too. In real world speak this means the 2022 Fire TV Cube is ready to pump out content as good as your TV can likely handle, I was testing mine with the excellent 55” LG CX.
Watching The Expanse in UHD through the Prime Video app I found the HDR10+ support did a great job of bringing engaging depth to the dark, high contrast scenes, while the bright colourful landscapes of Clarkson’s Farm popped with great detail. The Fire TV Cube was also quicker to start playing content in full 4K than the Fire Stick which often took a couple of minutes to step up from HD.
The new ethernet port on the back of the Fire TV Cube is a welcome addition, though it’s not a gigabit port and the WiFi 6E onboard does make it slightly redundant. Nobody really needs more than 100mbps for anything the Fire TV Cube 3rd Generation is designed to do, but almost artificial limitations are disappointing in a top of the range device.
One area Amazon haven’t held back however is the new HDMI in port. I was pleasantly surprised to find this was a full 2.1 spec so even an Xbox Series X or Playstation 5 running at full beans won’t be held back. I connected a Nintendo Switch and found it didn’t add any perceivable input lag and the Fire TV Cube’s built-in Super Resolution Upscaling did bring a noticeable bump to the image quality in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Sadly while the video experience is super strong across the board, the Alexa experience doesn’t live up to that level. I already run Echo devices in a number of rooms in my house and was expecting the Fire TV Cube to just slot straight into that ecosystem – nope. While the various Echo Dots mesh seamlessly together, I found the Cube actually seemed to conflict with other devices to the point I changed the activation word on the Fire Cube to ignore it entirely with voice commands.
While streaming a film on the Fire TV Cube I had a timer I’d set on another device finish; “Alexa, stop” – my film stopped and the alarm kept chiming. “Alexa, stop” again, the film stayed stopped and the alarm kept chiming. It all just feels a bit scrappy and that came as a surprise to me for such a mature ecosystem.
There were some good points however, after isolation the Fire TV Cube’s Alexa the experience was considerably better. Asking for weather forecasts overlaid a banner on the screen as well as speaking results and asking for music played through my soundbar rather than the Fire TV’s internal speaker which is reserved solely for Alexa’s spoken responses.
All in all it’s hard to find fault with the video performance of the Amazon Fire TV Cube Third Generation. As purely a video device it consistently pumps out top level performance across both streaming and external inputs. The selection of native streaming apps is strong and the Super Resolution Upscaling will deliver decent benefits in the right scenarios.
The Alexa integration is flawed in its current form and ends up being more irritation than assistance unless it’s your only Echo device. That aside however, the 2022 Fire TV Cube is by far the best streaming device Amazon have ever put out and probably one of the best on the market full stop.