Amazon has been making steady improvements to its line of Fire TV devices, and the latest to receive an update is the Fire TV Cube. Let's take a look at what has changed, and see if it's worth it for you to upgrade or save a few bucks.
Fight Fire with Fire
The differences between the Fire TV Cube (2019) and Fire TV Cube (1st Gen) are definitely iterative and not transformative. Is that important? We'll see.
|Fire TV Cube (2019)||Fire TV Cube (1st-Gen)|
|Picture Quality||4K UHD, HDR 10+||4K UHD, HDR 10|
|Local Voice Control||Yes||No|
|Smart Home Controls||Yes||Yes|
|Bluetooth||5.0 + LE||4.2 + LE|
|Pair Multiple for Stereo Sound||Yes||Yes|
|Storage||16 GB||16 GB|
|RAM||2 GB||2 GB|
As you can see from the table above, the two devices share a lot of features, but those that they differ on are important. Let's take a look at what those minor differences amount to.
Fire TV Cube (2019): Upgrade for Updates?
If you were previously considering a Fire TV device like the Cube, then you'll be very happy with the 2019 version. Amazon stuck with what worked with the 1st Gen version (including the shape, style, and size), and beefed up the internals to make it more competitive in the current streaming landscape.
For 2019 Amazon added an improved hexa-core processor (compared to the quad-core processor on the First Gen), HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision support. It also added something called Local Voice Control, which takes advantage of the Cube's eight microphones, far-field voice recognition, and better processing power to execute an increasing number of verbal commands on-device, rather than sending those requests to the cloud and back. This not only results in quicker response times, but it also improves privacy and security by not transmitting that data over the internet.
The microphone improvements also mean that Alexa can better hear you and understand your commands while the nearby noisy TV is on. This feature will be available in English at launch, and it's expected to be compatible with other languages thereafter.
That brings us to the other major improvement: the Fire TV Cube will be available at launch in Canada, the U.K., Germany, Japan, and the U.S. The Fire TV Cube (1st Gen) was only available in the U.S., so now more of the world will get to enjoy Alexa on their TVs!
Fire TV Cube (1st Gen): Still a Solid Choice
Some thought the Fire TV Cube (1st Gen) was an impressive device that perhaps didn't live up to its full potential. It launched at a higher price point than other Fire TV streamers had previously, and it was missing some features that some rivals like Roku had, such as a headphone jack on the remote and a lost remote finder function on the set-top box.
Even the Fire TV Stick 4K, which came out shortly after the Fire TV Cube (1st Gen), had features like HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision for more than half the price of the Cube. In fact, you could get a 4K stick and an Echo Dot for cheaper than the Cube! Now that there is a second-generation Cube, Amazon has lowered the price of the 1st Gen by $20, and honestly, that feels about right for what you're getting.
So which one should you get?
You may have noticed from the images above and below that the two Cubes even look the same - indeed, they basically share the same industrial design and footprint. If you are someone you has an older TV and audio system (or just doesn't care that much about those kinds of details), and/or you would like to get into the Echo/Alexa ecosystem, then the Fire TV Cube 1st Gen is a great choice. It has pretty much all of what you'd want out of a streaming box with the benefit of serving as a stand-alone Echo device to control your smart home. And now it's available at a discount!
If you are more like us and nerd out to the latest specs and want more power, better image and audio quality, and better voice recognition capabilities, then the Fire TV Cube (2019) is easily worth the extra $20. Either way, you're getting one of the best and most popular streaming experiences out there, with a built-in smart home assistant to boot.
It's what's inside that counts
The Fire TV Cube (2019) features some pretty significant internal enhancements to make your streaming experience even better.
A solid alternative
Still a great value for streamers
While it may be missing some performance enhancements found in the newer version, this Alexa-enabled streamer is still a very capable entertainment device.
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