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Amazon Fire TV Cube (3rd generation) review: Amazon’s best and fastest streamer

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £140
(inc VAT)

The Fire TV Cube is one of the top streamers for audio and video quality, performance and voice control, but it is a touch expensive


  • Supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos
  • Excellent audio and video quality
  • Voice control and HDMI input


  • Twice the price of rival 4K streamers
  • Lacks the apps and games to make the most of the extra speed

The Fire TV Cube sits at the top of Amazon’s streaming device range, giving you the same Smart TV experience as the Fire TV Stick 4K Max but with more processing power, even faster Wi-Fi and what amounts to a built-in Echo Dot.

In a way, it’s the closest Amazon – or anyone else – gets to a high-end streamer like the Apple TV 4K or Nvidia Shield TV, with capabilities that go beyond just streaming, although the performance is still at a lower level. However, to get it, you’re going to have to pay over twice what you would pay for the Stick 4K Max.

Amazon Fire TV Cube (3rd generation) review: What you need to know

This is a 4K streaming device but, unlike most rivals, it isn’t a stick that plugs in directly to an HDMI port. Instead, it’s a compact stand-alone unit that connects via an HDMI cable. The big pitch here is hands-free voice control, with a built-in microphone and speaker: you can say the wake word “Alexa” to catch the Fire TV Cube’s attention instead of having to hold down a button on the remote control.

It also has an HDMI 2.1 output, a matching HDMI 2.1 input, a 100Mbits/sec Ethernet port and built-in Wi-Fi 6E. Meanwhile, HDR and audio support covers all the major bases, including Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos.

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Amazon Fire TV Cube (3rd generation) review: Price and competition

The Fire TV Cube’s biggest competitor is Amazon’s own Fire TV Stick 4K Max. This has a quad-core 1.8GHz MediaTek MT8696 processor, while the new Cube comes with an octa-core 2-2.2GHz processor and support for the more recent Wi-Fi 6E standard. The Stick is still a speedy 4K streamer, though, and supports all the same video and audio formats. It’s also cheaper at £65 rather than £140, although Alexa voice control has to be channelled via the bundled voice remote.

Alternatively, Roku’s Streaming Stick 4K gives you 4K streaming with Dolby Vision and HDR10+. Roku has a fast, clean interface and what’s probably the most comprehensive line-up of apps and services in the business, and you can pick one up for less than £50

Aside from these two, the Fire TV Cube’s other rival is the Apple TV 4K. This is a more powerful box, capable of running iOS apps and games with its A15 Bionic chip and has 64GB or 128GB of storage. It also has support for Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and HDR10+. It doesn’t have the Cube’s smart speaker capabilities but supports Siri voice control through the remote. Apple’s ecosystem and app library means that it’s arguably better value at around £150.

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Amazon Fire TV Cube (3rd generation) review: Design

The Fire TV Cube has had a makeover since its 2019 iteration. With a footprint of 86 x 86mm and a height of 77mm, it’s the same size as the previous version. The old glossy black plastics have been switched out for a fabric wraparound and a matte plastic surface on the top. Here you’ll find the usual Echo buttons – volume up, volume down, mute and action – while the rear houses a DC power input, a USB-A port, one 100Mbits/sec Ethernet port, and an HDMI 2.1 output and matching input. The latter allows you to pass through a TV set-top box or games console for voice control. For the former, however, the Fire TV Cube is limited to Sky, Virgin, BT TV and TalkTalk boxes. 

The other part of the package is the included Alexa Voice Remote. It’s a familiar effort, with a four-way selector pad and Alexa button at the top, playback controls in the middle, and volume, channel, mute, guide and settings buttons below. There are also four shortcut buttons that take you directly to key apps: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Music.

As we’ve come to expect, Amazon has polished the whole setup process to the point where it’s effortlessly smooth; the hardest part is installing any apps not covered within the setup process and entering account credentials across any non-Amazon streaming services. Even here, today’s QR-code and browser-based setup processes make everything pain-free. I had Netflix, Disney+, NowTV, iPlayer and All 4 up and running within minutes of the basic setup and update process finishing. Adding Twitch and YouTube didn’t take much longer.

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Amazon Fire TV Cube (3rd generation) review: Performance

Amazon’s smart TV front end is one of the best around, but it has its foibles. My main issue is that Amazon content is pushed front and centre and frequently prioritised. This means the series you’re watching on Amazon or the series that Amazon recommends you watch on Amazon will dominate the home screen, while any series you’re watching on, say, Netflix or Disney+ may get second billing, or only get the spotlight when you open up that specific app.

It’s also a very content-centric user interface, with only a limited selection of apps appearing on the home screen itself, in a row at the top. If you prefer an app- and service-focused approach, you might be better off with Roku.

The Alexa integration makes the content more accessible; rather than browsing around with the remote control, it’s often simpler to use voice search to locate shows and movies or ask Alexa to play the next episode. This worked brilliantly on Amazon series – it had no problems finding my place in The Peripheral or Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power – but only moderately well with Disney+, NowTV or Netflix content. However, I did sometimes find myself presented with a screen full of episodes to choose from, or even dumped at the profile selection page.

Annoyingly, Amazon profiles still don’t sync up with profiles from most other services, which seems to me to be a weakness of the system. Sure, it works with Discovery+, but we need it for Netflix and Disney+ as well.

Otherwise, Alexa voice control can be a real time-saver. You have to be fairly careful and direct about the language you use but, as well as search, you can turn the volume up and down for TV speakers or a connected soundbar, or switch between the Fire TV and whatever source you have connected through the HDMI input, be it an Xbox or a TV set-top box. 

Another feature with potential is the Guide button, which takes you through to a live TV listing where you can access streams from specific channels. In an ideal world, this would support streaming from across the main UK TV broadcast channels, giving you one fewer reason to have a separate TV box. Right now, though, it only shows Channel 5 and Amazon Freevee programmes.

With the new octa-core CPU and 2GB of RAM, switching from screen to screen or menu to menu is limited only by the speed of the app or service and your internet connection. If you have a relatively old or low-end 4K smart TV, the smoothness and snappiness will be a revelation. Bear in mind, however, that rival Roku and Fire TV 4K Max products don’t exactly feel slow.

The other advantage – enough performance to play Android games – isn’t much of a selling point within Amazon’s ecosystem. Where the Apple TV gives you access to Apple Arcade, Amazon’s app store only covers a subset of Android games and you won’t find major titles such as Call of Duty: Mobile or Genshin Impact represented. I had no problem getting Asphalt 8 up and running, but don’t expect a powerhouse games machine.

When it comes to picture and sound quality, the news is mostly very good. 4K HDR material looks and sounds fantastic, especially if it supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. The 4K rendering squeezes out all the vibrant colour and sharp detail you could wish for, with bright highlights and good visibility of darker areas and no signs of smudging, smearing or jerky motion. 

Shows and movies on Disney+ look particularly brilliant but 4K Dolby Vision stuff on Amazon Prime can also be superb. Watching through the Fire TV Cube and my LG OLED TV’s built-in apps, I found Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, The Peripheral and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness looked equally sharp and vibrant through both, and sometimes better through the Fire TV Cube.

The Cube also offers upscaling and sharpening of 720p and 1080p material through its Super Resolution feature. This did a solid job with 1080p movies and shows through Now TV and Netflix, delivering a slightly sharper picture with more clarity and detail when turned on. It’s no better than my LG TV’s built-in processing with the same material through the native apps, but it’s likely to be an upgrade for owners of older, cheaper TVs.

On the negative side, I had to fiddle with some settings before HD material on BBC iPlayer looked as good as it did through my TV’s app. It’s also disappointing to note that, while the YouTube app can play back 4K video, any copy-protected content you’ve bought from Google’s movie and TV stores is limited to a wretched-looking 480p. I’m not sure if this is Amazon’s fault or Google’s; either way, it sucks.

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Amazon Fire TV Cube (3rd generation) review: Verdict

Other than this, there’s little to fault about the Fire TV Cube. It’s Amazon’s best and fastest 4K streamer with a slick interface and a strong set of features. You may or may not find voice controls essential, but having them built in is a definite plus, especially when you can’t lay your hands on the remote. All the same, it is expensive, and many people will be just as well served by their TV’s built-in apps or by a cheaper and less speedy streaming stick.

The best argument in the Cube’s favour is that it gives you a level of future-proofing, thanks to Amazon’s updates and the octa-core CPU. If you’re hanging on to a good but ageing 4K telly, it might be exactly what you need.

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