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Fire TV Cube (2019) vs. Fire TV Cube (1st Gen): Which should you buy?

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

Fire TV Cube (2019)

The Fire TV Cube (2019) has upgraded internals from last year's device for increased speed and performance. It also added some key features like Local Voice Control for on-device processing and Dolby Vision support.

Fire TV Cube (2019)

Internal Upgrades

New and improved processor
New features like Local Voice Control and Dolby Vision
Available in more countries
4K HDR support
Most expensive Fire TV streaming box
External storage support is via OTG cable and micro USB port, not micro SD slot

Fire TV Cube (1st Gen)

While it lacks some of the newer features of the 2019 model, the Fire TV Cube (1st Gen) still packs hands-free Alexa and 4k HDR support for super streaming, making it a good value box.

Fire TV Cube (1st Gen)

Cube Contender

Reduced price compared to 2019 version
Inexpensive entry into both Echo and Fire ecosystems
Hands-free Alexa
4K HDR support
Less powerful processor than 2019 version
Doesn't support Dolby Vision

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)
ProcessorHexa-coreQuad-core
Microphones88
Picture Quality4K UHD, HDR 10+4K UHD, HDR 10
Dolby AtmosYesYes
Dolby VisionYesNo
Local Voice ControlYesNo
Smart Home ControlsYesYes
Bluetooth5.0 + LE4.2 + LE
Music StreamingYesYes
Pair Multiple for Stereo SoundYesYes
Beamforming MicrophonesYesYes
Storage16 GB16 GB
RAM2 GB2 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.

Jeramy is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he's not writing about smart home gadgets and wearables, he's defending his relationship with his smart voice assistants to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.