Wherein we commend Amazon for doing what we wanted it to do months ago.
You had to know it was coming. The only real question is why it took so long.
Amazon has announced a new Fire TV Voice Remote. And unlike every other remote control it’s released until now (OK, that’s really just a couple versions of the same old thing), it’s mostly been missing the actual "TV" part of the equation.
That includes the remote control included with this year’s Amazon Fire TV Cube. The most advanced Fire TV box yet — with Alexa built in via a speaker and microphones — requires you to either use your voice to control volume levels, or to reach for a second remote.
Neither one of those options is good, as I wrote back in June:
Now we have a device in the Fire TV Cube that can do proper CEC control of pretty much anything physically connected via HDMI. It can turn the TV off an on by itself. It can adjust input. And adjust volume.
But you have to use your voice to do it. Not everyone wants to do that. Not everyone can do that. And, frankly, when you’re in the middle of watching a movie, shouting commands (and then waiting for Alexa to execute them) is pretty much the last thing you should be doing. It kills the moment. It kills the mood. And it’s solving a problem that we didn’t really have in the first place. Volume buttons are a must on the remote control of any device that can do CEC. Apple gets that. Roku gets that. Android TV gets that.
Amazon needs to fix that.
Yes, Amazon needed to fix that. And now it has fixed that. And the good news is that the new Amazon Fire TV Voice Remote will ship with its current Fire TV lineup starting Oct. 31.
How’s it done this? Basically by just cramming an infrared emitter into the remote control. You’ll now find buttons to control power, volume up and volume down, and a mute button. No more second remote controls. No more clip-on additions that do the same thing. (Sorry to all those companies, I suppose.)
The new Fire TV Voice Remote is also compatible with a few (but not all) Fire TV devices. That includes the $39 previous-generation Fire TV Stick, the $119 Fire TV Cube, and the $69 Fire TV Gen. 3 — the one shaped like a pendant. If you have an older Fire TV device, you’ll want to update. (And of course if you’re updating to a new Fire TV model, you’ll get the new remote.) The remote is available for $29.99. It’d be nice if Amazon just fired one off to everyone who bought, say, a Fire TV device in the last month. (Or at least everyone who bought a Fire TV Cube.) But that’s maybe a stretch too far.
Either way, Amazon has fixed things. That is good. It just took too damn long.
October 3, 2018 at 06:12AM