Unveiled on Thursday, Amazon’s new streaming TV device, the Fire TV Cube, comes with a speaker and an Alexa voice assistant built right into the streaming media box itself, allowing users to turn on the TV, switch the channel and control smart home appliances by speaking to it.
It also ships with a more traditional handheld remote with buttons, for those times that you don’t want to yell at your TV. But this too, has a speaker that lets you command Alexa with your voice.
Just like the company’s older Fire TV box and Fire TV stick, the Fire TV Cube connects to one’s home TV and can provide up to 4K UHD of Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and other streaming apps and content to watch.
But now, users will be able to control how they watch the programming with their voice while also syncing the device to other smart home appliances — for example, video doorbells and smart thermostats.
It’s a natural fusion of two of Amazon’s more successful brands and technologies: Alexa and Fire TV (it’s essentially an Amazon Echo that also streams video). And it shows just how quickly Amazon is moving to position Alexa as the brain of our increasingly smarter homes.
“You can find and watch your favorite TV shows and movies, power your TV on and off, change the volume, switch to different inputs and change the cable channel — all with just your voice,” said Emily Esposito Fulkerson, Amazon’s content marketing manager, in a statement. “Even with the TV off, you can simply say a command and Fire TV Cube powers on the TV and sound system, and starts playback right where you left off.”
The Fire TV Cube starts at $119.99, though subscribers to Amazon’s Prime membership program (which costs $119 a year for free two-day shipping on order items and free streaming media content) will get a $30 discount and can grab the Fire TV Cube for $89.99 if they order on their accounts today and tomorrow. It will ship starting June 21.
The release of the Fire TV Cube comes as part of Amazon’s continued series of big moves into the growing smart home appliance market — in the past year, it acquired smart doorbell company Ring and launched a smart lock that lets delivery personnel open house doors through an app.
Amazon has also recently partnered with homebuilder Lennar on a new wave of model and livable homes that come with Alexa-controlled appliances and Wi-Fi built right in.