Folks routinely ask for streaming box recommendations. And, for a few years, I took the position that Roku and Fire TV were largely equivalent and indicated the decision should come down to content and app preferences. Need Kodi? Amazon is the answer. YouTube? Roku. Etc. However, the math changed last fall when Roku refreshed its lineup with smartly integrated volume-control capabilities. For many with streamlined configurations, a Harmony is unnecessary or overly complex (with additional clutter) — whereas simply adding some CEC and IR control to an expensive streamer may be exactly what the doctor ordered for increased efficiency. Well, today, Amazon ups the ante with similar from the $50 4K Amazon Fire TV Stick… and then some.
The addition of power, volume, and mute buttons would have been enough to match, and even exceed, the basic universal remote capabilities of the Apple TV and Roku’s remotes, but Amazon has taken their new remote to another level. The new Alexa voice remote includes all the same equipment control capabilities found on the Fire TV Cube, built directly into the remote.
This means you’ll be able to say “Turn on the TV” into the remote’s microphone and the dual IR blasters built into the remote will turn on your TV, AV receiver, and/or soundbar, as well as set everything to the correct input. If you have a cable box, you’ll be able to say “Tune to HBO” and your home theater equipment will switch inputs to your cable box and change the box to the requested channel.
BONUS: The remote will also be sold as a $30 accessory that can be paired with prior Fire TV models. But, sadly, not my first gen box … and no Fire TV televisions. Yet?