Amazon Fire TV Cube Review: A Killer Cord Cutting Solution? [2020 Update]
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Amazon has revolutionized the cord-cutting space, allowing many people to stream loads of content and ditch the cable contract. The Fire TV Cube is one device that makes that possible. We bought the Cube several years ago and have had a good experience with it.
We also have two Fire TV Sticks, but the Cube is an upgrade of that. As you’ll see in our Amazon Fire TV review, it’s very similar to the dongle but offers several upgrades that make it worth a consideration under the right circumstance.
What is the Amazon Fire TV Cube?
The Cube is a set top device that allows you to stream content directly to your TV. It has an intuitive remote, that allows you to access Amazon’s media store. There you can find TV shows, music, movies, and games.
When you plug the device into your TV you can stream content in 4K Ultra HD quality. The device works similar to the Fire Stick, but with more features. You can read our review of the dongle here.
What Comes With the Device?
The Fire TV is incredibly easy to set up and can be done within a few minutes. As you can see from the picture below, here’s what comes with the device:
- Fire TV Cube
- Voice remote
- Power adapter
- Two AAA batteries
You’ll also need the following to install the device:
- HDMI cable
When you plug in and install the Fire TV Cube, Amazon provides a short video to walk you through the installation process. The video, while helpful, really isn’t needed to get the device ready to operate.
You can watch videos, play games, listen to music or more within five minutes of installing the device as it’s really that simple to set-up.
What channels can you get with the Amazon Fire TV?
Many who want to cut the cord look for one thing – ‘what channels can I still get when I leave my cable company?’ The Amazon Fire TV Cube will not replace all channels, but it does provide access to a fair number of them.
Some of the channels or apps will require login credentials.
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In many cases, the login information comes from a cable provider, though some channels will allow you in with information from your Internet Service Provider. Here are the channels you can receive with the Amazon Fire TV Cube:
- Netflix, Crackle, HBO Max
- Watch ESPN, Watch HGTV, CBS AllAccess
- Watch Food Network, BBC News, Hulu
- Disney Junior, MLB TV Premium, Showtime
- A&E, YouTube, iHeart Radio
- Spotify, History Channel, NBA Game Time
- PBS Kids, Bloomberg TV, Huff Post Live
- And, of course, Amazon Prime videos
Some of the channels will require a separate monthly cost, such as HBO Max, which costs $15 per month after the expiration of the free 30-day trial. The other thing to keep in mind is that Amazon Fire TV allows you to access other cable cutting options like:
Each service will add to your overall monthly cost, of course, but I have personally found that Sling TV, Hulu Live, and Philo all work seamlessly with the Fire TV and give us no problems.
Amazon Fire TV Cube vs. Fire TV Stick
Most may not know the difference between the Fire TV Cube and the TV Stick.
There isn’t a lot of difference between the two devices on the surface. Both are based on the same platform so they operate similarly and provide the same user experience.
Both devices offer access to Amazon’s 7,000+ apps, games and Alexa skills plus access to other streaming services. They both also have a quad-core processor as well as 8 GB (16 GB for the Fire TV) of internal storage and require Wi-Fi connectivity to work.
However, there are some differences to keep in mind when looking to purchase one of the two devices. Some of those major differences are:
- The Cube provides an Ethernet port; a digital output port; a USB port; and an expandable memory port for up to 200 GB of microSD storage – on top of the standard power and HDMI ports. In contrast, the TV Stick offers only a standard power port and an HDMI port.
- The Fire TV isn’t as easy to transport as the Fire TV Stick. While still small, the Cube doesn’t provide the same pocket portability and plug and play capability that the Fire TV Stick does.
- The Fire TV is more responsive with fewer buffering issues. Not that the TV Stick buffers a lot, because it doesn’t, but the speed difference is somewhat noticeable when going between the two devices.
- The Amazon Cube supports 4K Ultra HD quality pictures whereas the Fire TV Stick tops out at 1080p picture quality. If video quality is important to you, then the Cube will be the preferred option.
- The Fire TV is big for serious gamers whereas the dongle is a little more lightweight. I’m not a gamer, so I’ve honestly not tested the difference between the two. In my research, the Fire TV Stick is good for gaming but is nowhere near robust as the Fire TV.
When looking at the two devices, it really comes down to what you’re looking for and the value you put on it. If the premium options appeal to you, it may warrant the extra cost.
Having used both personally, I do see a difference but would be happy with either device.
Amazon Fire TV – The Good
We’ve enjoyed using the Amazon Fire TV over the past several years. Here are some of the things we really like about the device:
The Alexa technology. We love this feature of the Cube. The remote is voice activated so you can use that to navigate the system and any other request you’d use the Alexa technology for – you can ask it for the weather, location of the nearest restaurant and so much more.
You can read our Amazon Echo review for more on how it works as it brings most of that to your TV.
It’s simple to use. You can set up the system in less than ten minutes and start watching videos or live TV. You can’t beat that.
Fast platform. The Fire TV platform is fast and very responsive.
Good storage capacity. The Fire TV provides an ample 16 GB of internal storage and up to 200 GB of expandable storage. This is in addition to the Ethernet port it provides for gaming.
Easy to use remote. I wasn’t certain how I’d like the voice-activated remote, but it works great and is very easy to use.
Great video quality. If you have a 4K Ultra HD quality TV, the video quality really stands out. However, it’s important to get the one that matches with your TV. If your TV does not have 4K Ultra HD capability, then the Amazon Fire TV will not be worth the extra cost vs. going with the lower cost Fire TV Stick.
Amazon Fire TV – The Bad
While we love our Amazon Fire TV, there are a few things we don’t like about the device. Those are:
It nearly requires having Amazon Prime. You can still have a Fire TV if you don’t have Amazon Prime but you will be limited in what you can do with the device. We have Amazon Prime, so it’s not an issue but you really need it to take advantage of all it can do.
One-click ordering. Since we have three young kids, we’re not fans of one-click ordering. Amazon defaults the Cube to allow it but it is a simple fix to disable it. The other problem is our daughter has an Amazon Kids Fire Tablet and we’ve put restrictions on it to limit how much time she can spend on it each day.
This causes a problem as it requires us to put in our pin code twice when we want to watch something. To be fair, this happens on both our Fire TV as well as the Fire TV Stick.
We’ve received a lot of questions over the years about the Fire TV. Here are a few common questions.
What internet speed do I need to use the Fire TV?
Per Amazon, you need a speed of at least 3 Megabits per second to use the Fire TV for SD content. If you want HD content, then you need at least 5 Mbps. If you want 4K Ultra HD, then you need at least 15 Mbps.
Do I need a Fire TV to access streaming platforms?
That depends on the TV you currently use. Some smart televisions let you access Sling TV, Hulu, and more directly from their platform. Others require a different platform. Check with the manufacturer of your TV to see what’s needed.
Does the Fire TV offer closed captions?
Yes, the Fire TV provides closed captioning.
Can I watch YouTube on Amazon Fire TV?
Google and Amazon had a spat several years ago, and Google threatened to remove YouTube from the Amazon platform. The spat was short-lived. Here’s what you need to do to watch YouTube on the Amazon platform:
- Click the search box in the Fire TV Stick platform and type “Firefox”
- Select Firefox for Fire TV
- Click “Get”
This downloads the Firefox browser, which allows you to watch YouTube all you wish.
How many devices can I stream on Amazon simultaneously?
You can have as many Fire TV as you wish, but Amazon only allows you to stream content simultaneously on two devices.
Can I watch all cable channels, or pay-per-view events?
The short answer is no. There are services available that let you jailbreak the Fire TV and get unlimited content. Many will argue that is stealing content, and it’s not something we’ve attempted to do.
Can I access everything on the Amazon Fire TV channels list?
Yes, each device comes with access to all of the same Fire TV channels. a handful may be pay options (like HBO Max), but many of the others are free to use.
Can I record shows on the Amazon Fire TV?
The device itself does not allow you to record content. You will need the Fire TV Recast to record shows. The Recast is relatively affordable and allows you to record over-the-air content with your Fire device.
There is no monthly cost and does not work with content you watch on a streaming service like Sling TV or Hulu Live. You can read our review of the Recast to learn how it works.
Overall, we’re pleased with the Amazon Fire TV. We love the additional capabilities that Alexa technology offers, not to mention the upgraded video quality.
I will also add that if you’re on the fence choosing between the Amazon Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick you can’t really go wrong with either choice. It comes down to how much the differences mean to you and what you’re looking for in a device. We have both and love both devices for different reasons.
While there may be some upfront costs to cutting the cord, you can recoup the cost with the resultant savings in three to four months; then you continue to keep the savings. At $80 – $100 per month, or more, it’s well worth it to find an option that works for you.
What are your thoughts on the Amazon Fire TV? What streaming services have you used to try to save money on cable? Do you still have cable – why or why not?
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.
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