Amazon Fire TV Cube (2019) vs. Roku Ultra: Which should you buy?

The Amazon Fire TV Cube
The Amazon Fire TV Cube (Image credit: Android Central)

Amazon Fire TV Cube (2019)

Amazon Fire TV Cube (2019)

The Fire TV Cube has upgraded internals from last year's device for increased speed and performance. What is particularly great about this device is that it can function as a traditional Echo smart speaker when the TV is off. True multifunctionality!

Amazon Fire TV Cube (2019)

Swiss army box

Hexa-core processor for a faster Fire
New usability features like Local Voice Control
Serves as an Echo speaker when TV is off
Hands-free or voice remote Alexa controls
Some may not like the shape of the box
A little on the expensive side

Roku Ultra (2020)

Roku Utra

The Roku Ultra remains one of the best values in streaming devices. In addition to great specs and a svelte design, you get usability enhancements like Lost Remote Finder and a headphone set up in the remote for night/quiet listening.

Roku Ultra (2020)

Streaming super saver

Cheaper than Fire TV Cube
Built-in headphone jack for "night listening"
Lost remote finder
Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
Voice control not as good as Fire TV Cube
You can get a lot of the same features in one of Roku's cheaper sticks

Amazon and Roku are the current kings of streaming TV services and devices, so let's compare two of their top products: the Amazon Fire TV Cube vs. the Roku Ultra to see which is the better option for you. Both offer a range of streaming sticks, streaming boxes, and smart TVs with their operating systems built-in. So which one should you choose for your viewing pleasure? We'll lay out the facts to help you decide.

Amazon Fire TV Cube vs. Roku Ultra: Break it down now...

So, how do these two streamers stack up on paper? Let's look at the specs below.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Fire TV Cube (2019)Roku Ultra (2020)
Microphones8 and voice remoteVoice remote only
Picture Quality4K, UHD, HDR 10+4K UHD, HDR 10+
Dolby Atmos AudioYesYes
Dolby VisionYesYes
Free TV ContentYesYes
Local Voice ControlYesNo
Alexa SupportYesYes
Google AssistantNoYes
Music Streaming through DeviceYesOnly through TV speakers
Pair Multiple for Stereo SoundYesNo
Beamforming MicrophonesYesNo
Lost Remote FinderNoYes
Headphone Jack on RemoteNoYes

Amazon Fire TV Cube vs. Roku Ultra: What's great about the Fire TV Cube (2019)?

The Fire TV Cube (2019) remains the only real set-top streaming box in Amazon's arsenal, but it's not any ordinary streamer. One of this product's key selling points is that it combines a top-of-the-line media TV box with what is essentially an Amazon Echo for a sort of two-in-one powerhouse device.

This latest edition features some significant internal upgrades over the previous version, including an enhanced processor with six cores instead of four, Dolby Vision and HDR 10+ video support, and Dolby Atmos audio experience. It has multi-directional infrared and beamforming technology that enables you to control your smart TV experience with Alexa better.

Plus, it can even be used as an Amazon Echo smart speaker when the TV is turned off. Alexa is also enhanced by a new feature called Local Voice Control. Local Voice Control leverages the better processor and microphone array to perform simple or repetitive user interface tasks on-device rather than in the cloud, resulting in a snappier experience.

Amazon's Fire TV devices also excel when it comes to smart home integration. With the All-New Fire TV Cube, you can easily ask Alexa to show your Blink camera's feed of the side yard, or see who is at the door through your Ring Doorbell. You can also enable features like Alexa Guard from your All-New Fire TV Cube, and set up routines and control groups of devices directly through the box.

All Amazon Fire TV devices come with access to a vast library of Prime Video content, as well as access to third-party apps like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go. Fire TV devices also get you access to IMDB TV, which features tons of on-demand free content with limited commercial interruption.

Amazon Fire TV Cube vs. Roku Ultra: What's great about the Roku Ultra (2020)?

Roku Ultra and remote

Source: Phil Nickinson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Phil Nickinson / Android Central)

The Roku Ultra is the top-of-the-line Roku set-top box. Like Amazon, Roku offers several streaming sticks, boxes, and integrated TV platforms for consumers to choose from.

The most recent edition of the Roku Ultra has caught up to the latest Fire TV Cube has, in just about every respect. It now supports Dolby Vision and HDR 10+, as well as Dolby Atmos and Bluetooth for casting from your phone, though it only has a quad-core processor compared to the Fire TV Cube's octa-core chip. The Roku Ultra does have some nice usability features absent on the Fire TV Cube, like the ability to press a button on the device to locate that remote that fell between the seat cushions. Users can also plug the included headphones into the remote and listen to your program without disturbing others.

Roku remains a fan favorite because of its no-fuss approach to streaming. It offers a ton of great content, much of it free, in a relatively easy-to-navigate and straightforward interface. In addition to the standard third-party apps that everyone has like Netflix and Hulu, you can also watch and purchase Amazon Prime Video content on Roku. Roku also offers a bunch of free and ad-supported content on its Roku Channel, and unlike the Fire TV, Roku carries the new Peacock streaming service from NBC.

Last but definitely not least, the price. The Roku Ultra comes in at nearly $20 cheaper than the Fire TV Cube. That's money that can stay in your pocket, or be used for a couple of movie rentals this weekend!

Note: The 2020 edition of the Roku Ultra is available for pre-order at the time of writing, and will begin shipping to customers in late October.

Amazon Fire TV Cube vs. Roku Ultra: Which should you buy?

Both boxes have great specs, and both platforms have extensive proprietary and shared content catalogs. Both also offer the option to purchase additional "channels" such as HBO, Cinemax, and Starz. As with Android and iOS, the choice here mainly comes down to which ecosystem you are most comfortable in.

If you are heavily invested in the Amazon media ecosystem or take advantage of the Fire TV smart home integrations with products like Ring and Blink, the Fire TV Cube is the best choice. If you are more platform agnostic and don't really care as much about where you get your media from (and you want to save a few bucks), reach for the Roku. Either way, you'll be set up for a great streaming experience.

Jeramy Johnson

Jeramy was the Editor-in-Chief of Android Central. He is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand.