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When Amazon formally introduced its new Fireplace TV Dice, the gadget was oversimplified in headlines as a Fireplace TV stick and Echo speaker crammed collectively right into a shiny black field. The truth that the Fireplace TV Dice would be capable of management a TV was virtually a footnote, and descriptions of these capabilities have been typically restricted to turning the TV on and off and its quantity up and down. Seems, the Fireplace TV Dice is extra superior than that. Far more.

The Fireplace TV Dice places Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in a Fireplace TV gadget for the primary time, however because of HDMI CEC and an IR blaster, the Fireplace TV Dice additionally makes you grasp of your whole leisure system (even when it’s difficult) utilizing the ability of your voice. On paper it sounds nice. In apply, it’s much better than we anticipated.

You received’t be throwing your distant controls in a rubbish bin and saying goodbye endlessly, however the Fireplace TV Dice will assist you to stuff these button-laden wands in a drawer and neglect about them for days at a time.

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That’s solely a part of the explanation the Amazon Fireplace TV Dice is our new favourite streaming field – and this coming from a die-hard Roku fan.

Editor’s word: This overview has been up to date so as to add details about new assist for YouTube following Amazon and Google’s truce

Out of the field

Amazon neatly packages the Fireplace TV Dice in fully recyclable packaging with no fluff concerned. Within the field, you’ll discover the Dice wrapped in plastic and additional protected by plastic movie. If you find yourself tossing the plastic away earlier than studying the setup alert printed on it, take word that you just’ll need to set the Fireplace TV Dice up in a visual place (don’t tuck it away behind a cupboard door or drop it behind a wall-mounted TV), and no less than one foot away from any audio system in order that the microphones constructed into the highest of the Dice can simply distinguish voice instructions from TV programming or music.

Within the field with the Dice, you’ll discover an Ethernet adapter (if you happen to’ve acquired a hardline web connection finest to make use of it, however Wi-Fi is inbuilt), energy twine, an extendable IR Blaser with a cable of beneficiant size, and a Fireplace TV voice distant with batteries. Sure, the Dice, which touts voice instructions as its major characteristic, nonetheless advantages from having a distant sometimes. Plus, not everyone seems to be into utilizing voice for every thing – generally you simply need a clicker to get the job carried out.

Setup

Amazon does an important job making Fireplace TV Dice setup as intuitive and simple as potential. When you order the Fireplace TV Dice instantly from Amazon utilizing your Amazon account, for example, it ought to arrive already signed into your account. In any other case, the Dice’s setup wizard will first ask for Wi-Fi sign-in credentials (if you happen to don’t use Ethernet to connect with your router), then get you to enter your Amazon account data. Following that, you’ll be prompted so as to add any of the super-popular apps Amazon thinks you may want, and whereas these apps obtain within the background, the Fireplace TV Dice will get to work studying about your leisure system.

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If all you’ve acquired is a TV, then this a part of the method will go shortly. The Fireplace TV Dice can acknowledge many more moderen TVs routinely and can simply confirm it might efficiently management energy, quantity, and mute features earlier than operating you thru a video tutorial.

When you use a soundbar or A/V receiver, the setup course of is a bit more concerned, however the Fireplace TV Dice does a very good job of serving to type out how you have got your gear related. Throughout our setup course of, it appeared as if Amazon assumed we might plug the Fireplace TV Dice into an A/V receiver instantly.  It ran a bunch of checks to make sure it was capable of flip each the TV and receiver on and off, management quantity, and so forth., and the system did work. Nevertheless, we at present have our sources related on to our TV, with an audio sign going to our receiver utilizing HDMI ARC, and with this association, we needed to make a couple of modifications within the settings menu to make sure that, when utilizing Fireplace TV Dice, the receiver switched to HDMI 2 for our ARC feed. We assume one thing related might happen if utilizing a sound bar in the same configuration.

What Amazon doesn’t appear to immediate you to do is to enter all relevant gadgets and activate HDMI CEC (Client Electronics Management). We needed to flip HDMI CEC and HDMI ARC on for our LG E8 OLED TV and Anthem MRX-1120 A/V receiver to make sure all went easily. Some TVs (many from Samsung, for instance) include CEC enabled routinely, however others don’t, so remember to dig into your settings menu to make sure.

From there, it’s as much as you so as to add every other gadgets you need the Fireplace TV Dice to account for. We added a Blu-ray participant and a PlayStation four console, but when we had a cable field or satellite tv for pc receiver, you may wager we’d have added these since controlling cable/sat bins and accessing reside TV is likely one of the issues the Fireplace TV Dice does finest.

Options and design

We’re going to exit on a limb and presume you’re accustomed to Fireplace TV and Amazon Alexa fundamentals, simply so we are able to dig proper into what makes the Fireplace TV Dice particular (there’s quite a bit). In case you want a refresher, although, right here’s our overview of the third Gen Fireplace TV field and the most recent Amazon Echo speaker to get you up to the mark in a jiffy.

Describing the Fireplace TV Dice as an Echo and Fireplace TV smooshed collectively is as inaccurate as it’s reductive. The Fireplace TV Dice can do many issues a Fireplace TV operated by an Echo speaker can’t outdoors of management.

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Invoice Roberson/Digital Tendencies

As an illustration, you may inform Alexa to tune into ESPN on Xfinity, Dish Community, or DirecTV and it’ll change the TV’s enter to whichever cable/satellite tv for pc field is related, then change the channel on the cable field to ESPN. It’s also possible to specify the channel quantity you need. However what we appreciated finest was telling Alexa to tune to a selected TV present and have her merely launch the TV present on the fitting channel.

When you’re a cord-cutter, now we have nice information: Amazon Fireplace TV Dice works with PlayStation Vue and Hulu Dwell TV proper out of the field.

In case your system is just too difficult for some people in your house to grasp, the Fireplace TV Dice unlocks it for them.

One of the crucial notable modifications to the Fireplace TV platform that we seen whereas testing the Dice was how Amazon now places apps on a extra stage taking part in subject, each on its residence display and thru search. It was once that if you happen to looked for Home of Playing cards, Amazon would serve up its personal Prime Video paid possibility over the clearly free availability on Netflix. With the Fireplace TV Dice, if you happen to ask it to play Home of Playing cards, Ozark, Handmaid’s Story, or every other variety of authentic exhibits from competing providers, it should go straight to the right app and (supplied you’ve acquired a subscription) begin taking part in the present. When you ask to observe a present that isn’t accessible free of charge from one in every of your subscribed providers, the Fireplace TV Dice will present you what your choices are, even when what you need isn’t accessible on Amazon’s personal Prime Video service.

This app-agnostic method performs out on the Fireplace TV Dice’s residence display as effectively. We seen a “Netflix recommends,” and “Vudu recommends” strip loaded with exhibits we not too long ago watched and different choices like these exhibits we’ve watched previously. It wasn’t even mandatory to enter the Netflix app to restart Ozark — it was proper there on the Fireplace TV Dice’s residence menu; that looks like an enormous leap ahead for Amazon.  Heck, now that Google and Amazon have thawed their streaming feud, you may even get YouTube in your Fireplace TV Dice.

Streaming guides

In fact, if you wish to bounce away from the Fireplace TV Dice’s onboard streaming choices, it should allow you to get to your Blu-ray participant, Xbox, PlayStation, and even Roku gadget. Underneath the settings menu for gadget administration, you may specify precisely which TV enter, soundbar enter, or A/V receiver enter every gadget is related to. So while you say, “swap to PlayStation,” every thing adjusts in live performance. In case your system is just too difficult for some people in your house to grasp, the Fireplace TV Dice unlocks it for them.

Contemplate as effectively that the Fireplace TV Dice gives virtually every thing an Echo speaker does (save communications and entire residence audio), but it surely additionally brings new visuals to the desk. Asking concerning the climate exhibits the present temperature and situations on a climate display, taking part in music calls up album artwork, checking in your commute exhibits the commute time and finest route. And if you happen to use Alexa to manage good residence gadgets, the video component is available in tremendous useful. Now you may have a look at any safety cam footage proper in your TV – it’s every thing you already love about Alexa on the largest display in the home.

Oh, and the Fireplace TV Dice gives one of the best sound of any Alexa gadget you may personal, too. Because it connects by way of HDMI to your soundbar or audio system, it gives a digital sign on your gear to decode slightly than counting on a budget DAC inside an echo speaker to do the job and shove it out a headphone jack.

So, what’s the catch?

There aren’t any main downsides to the Fireplace TV Dice – none that we’ve been capable of uncover in a brief time frame, anyway.

The Dice doesn’t assist Dolby Imaginative and prescient, a lot to the chagrin of videophiles, but it surely does assist 4K UHD and HDR10 together with Dolby Atmos (with appropriate apps). Additionally, Alexa nonetheless likes pretty particular instructions — it’s pure language understanding just isn’t as highly effective as Google’s but. To Amazon’s credit score, although, the Fireplace TV Dice makes recommendations on what to say primarily based on what it thinks you is perhaps attempting to perform, and Amazon says it will likely be including and bettering voice recognition always.

In any other case, our complaints concerning the final Fireplace TV product have all been addressed. We acquired the Ethernet port, we acquired a extra app agnostic Fireplace TV OS, and now we have all of the voice management we might ask for. No different gadget can do what the Fireplace TV Dice does, not Roku, not Apple TV, and undoubtedly not Android TV.

Guarantee

Amazon affords a free 1-year restricted guarantee, however prolonged two- and three-year warranties can be found for extra buy.

Our Take

Is there a greater different?

No. The Roku Extremely can be an superior streaming set-top field, and we love a number of the app integration and search perform the Roku platform affords, however in terms of management and voice management, there’s nothing on the market just like the Fireplace TV Dice.

How lengthy will it final?

The Fireplace TV Dice is constructed to be always improved over a number of years. The inside is lightning quick now, and it ought to keep that manner effectively into the long run. We’re assured the Fireplace TV Dice will final so long as it’s wanted to (in different phrases, lengthy sufficient to get you thru to the subsequent large factor).

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. At $120 the Fireplace TV Dice isn’t precisely low-cost, however you undoubtedly get what you pay for. It’s enjoyable, it’s useful, and it does every thing a streaming set-top gadget must do, and extra. Purchase with confidence!

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