Amazon unveils almost hands-free streaming TV device

Amazon launches Echo Look in U.S., could popularize computer vision via Alexa

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The new $120 streaming box, which launches on June 21, is similar to the "Pendant Design" Fire TV that Amazon released past year, with the same processing power and 4K HDR video support. Plus, control your TV, sound bar, cable or satellite box, receiver, and more with just your voice. However, the Fire TV Cube doesn't have all the smart capabilities as an Echo speaker, as it can't call anybody and it can't sync with other Bluetooth speakers.

Fire TV users could use their voices to make requests by holding down on the remote, but this is the first time it's entirely hands-free. The same ease-of-use in voice commands applies to finding content on your cable channels as well - you can tell Alexa to "tune to NBC" or change to a specific channel, and she'll handle the rest.

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Preorders for the Fire TV Cube started Thursday for $119.99, and the device ships with an IR extender cable and Ethernet adapter beginning on June 21.

Fire TV Cube doesn't support calling and messaging, Bluetooth sync or multi-room music in conjunction with other Alexa-enabled speakers. So it sits there waiting for voice commands even when you're not using the TV.

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The Fire TV Cube could even push more streaming video providers to add Alexa controls to their apps.

The Fire TV Cube can also control your smart home devices, so you can ask it to turn on your smart lightbulb, or show footage from your smart home camera.

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You can also get $30 off a bundle that includes the Fire TV Cube and Amazon's Cloud Cam Security Cam. Finally, it sounds like the Fire TV Cube will come with all of the additional functionality of a standard Echo device, so this little box should be quite the capable machine. In addition, the player offers 4K streaming at up to 60fps with HDR10 and Dolby Atmos audio support. In demonstrations, Amazon has been showing off how you could change the channel on a separate cable box that's also connected to your TV. It is, however, still less than the $150 Apple TV. Advanced beamforming technology combines the signals from the individual microphones to suppress noise, reverberation, content now playing, and even competing speech to make sure Alexa clearly hears your request, even next to your TV. "We think this is enough of a game-changer that customers are really going to like it".

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