The Fire TV Cube is one of the most innovative pieces of hardware yet to be put out by Amazon. And yet, with its high price tag and curious melding of Echo and Fire TV functionality, it certainly hasn’t set the market alight.
That could change as we near the Amazon launch event on September 28. Amazon tends to drop a medley of new product announcements at events like these, with iterative updates on its various streaming device, smart speaker, fitness tracker, and true wireless earbud ranges.
Yes, Amazon has its fingers in a lot of pies, which makes it hard to predict exactly where its focus may lie in a certain year. But there’s reason to believe that the Fire TV Cube could be seeing another entry – one that plants the AV hardware as firmly in our living rooms as Amazon’s affordable Fire TV streaming sticks.
The Fire TV occupied an odd position in Amazon’s product range when it launched in 2018, costing several times that of a standard Fire TV Stick, and packaging in the Alexa speaker functionality of the Amazon Echo. As a set-top box with a decent platform and some neat voice tricks – as well as built-in audio drivers for use with more general music needs – it certainly got our attention, though it’s been something of an outlier in the years since its initial launch.
Sure, the Fire TV Cube got a second iteration in 2019, but it’s been two long years since that update, without any official recognition of the Fire TV Cube as the future of Amazon’s streaming ambitions.
In fact, with Amazon now releasing its own first-party smart TVs – which come with the Fire TV platform and Alexa voice commands by default – there may not be a need for the Fire TV Cube at all.
And yet. Amazon has been steadily releasing a number of updates on the Fire TV Cube in the past year, including Zoom video call support in July. Amazon also released its Fire TV Cube in India in April – and a steady global expansion makes it seem like it isn’t the end of the road for the Cube just yet.
Amazon doesn’t tend to let supported devices go for too long without an update, either, which leads us to think that the Cube could well get a third iteration in the coming weeks.
What to expect from a new Fire TV Cube
What would this model do differently? Well, the second-gen Fire TV Cube added an improved hexa-core processor, as well as HDR10+ and Dolby Vision support – something that’s steadily arriving on more budget streamers these days. We don’t expect the form to change much, per se, but Amazon could always throw a curveball with a fully revamped set-top box aimed at taking on the Apple TV 4K (which retails at $179 / £169 / AU$249).
Like the Apple TV, though, the Cube’s pricing ($119 / £109 / AU$175) means it lingers out of reach of most casual TV watchers, most of whom can get by fine with a $30 streamer – if their TV needs one at all. When you can buy a Fire TV stick and an Amazon Echo separately for less than the cost of a Fire TV Cube, too, there’s little incentive to buy a device that melds both use cases together.
We could maybe see a new Fire TV Cube launching at a more in-reach $99 / £99 / AU$130 price point, to get over that hurdle. Getting the price down may be a more urgent task than upgrading its processing capabilities – especially since the current Cube’s hexa-core processor setup is still more advanced than the quad-core chipset of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max ($55 / £55 / AU$99), the next-fanciest Fire TV streamer you can buy.
The latter wins out on connectivity and speed, though, as the first streaming stick to support Wi-Fi 6 (rather than the 802.11ac / Wi-Fi 5 standard of the Cube), so that could be an area that a new Cube improves on.
If Amazon doesn’t see enough interest in the Cube, of course, we could see the line peter out as the company pushes its latest 4K Max model – which should appeal to those after the affordability and simplicity of a streaming dongle, along with high-spec performance that doesn’t hugely raise the price tag.
Given Amazon’s history of left-field launch announcements, though – including the Echo Loop smart ring – we’re mainly hoping that something entirely unexpected comes our way instead.
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