Amazon Fire TV For Dummies
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If you have a Fire TV Cube, you need to position the device optimally, connect the device to your TV, and then trudge through the setup procedure. The following discussion explains all.

Amazon’s Fire TV Cube Photograph courtesy of Amazon

Amazon’s Fire TV Cube.

How to position your Fire TV Cube

After you’ve liberated your Fire TV Cube from its packaging, one obvious question arises: Where the heck do you put it? Somewhere near your TV seems like the obvious answer, but choosing the best location is a bit more complicated than that. Here are some things to consider:
  • Your Fire TV Cube requires full-time power, so make sure there’s an outlet close enough to the device.
  • Your Fire TV Cube connects to an HDMI port on your TV, so it needs to be close enough to your TV that your HDMI cable can reach.
  • TV or sound system speakers can befuddle the Fire TV Cube’s built-in microphone, so make sure all speakers are at least 1 to 2 feet away from your Fire TV Cube.
  • Make sure the Fire TV Cube is within range of your Wi-Fi network.
  • Make sure the device is close enough that you can give your voice commands without having to yell. Depending on the ambient noise in your environment, this usually means being within 15 to 20 feet of the device.
  • Don’t store the Fire TV Cube inside a cabinet or other enclosed location.
  • Position the Fire TV Cube with the four buttons facing up, and the Amazon logo facing where you usually sit when you watch TV.

Get to know your Fire TV Cube’s Alexa hardware

Fire TV Cube is a combination of a streaming media device and an Alexa-enabled smart speaker. The latter means that you can send voice commands to the Fire TV Cube to control your TV and Fire TV, and the Fire TV Cube also responds to questions and other utterances. Before continuing with the Fire TV portion of the setup, it makes sense to first learn the basics of your Fire TV Cube’s Alexa hardware.

Taking a closeup look at the far-field microphone

Computers have had either external or built-in microphones for a few decades, and, of course, smartphones and tablets have had internal microphones from day one. But the characteristic that all these microphones have in common is that they assume the speaker is relatively close — within a few inches or, at most, a foot or two. Move much farther away, and those microphones get notoriously unreliable because they have trouble distinguishing your voice from the background noise in your environment.

That sort of second-rate microphone performance just won’t do for the Fire TV Cube whenever you’re relying on voice commands to get things done because those commands could be coming from 10, 15, or even 20 feet away. To get accurate and clear voice recordings, your Fire TV Cube relies on a technology called the far-field microphone, which is optimized to distinguish a voice from the ambient room noise even when that voice is far away. Your Fire TV Cube’s far-field microphone uses some fancy-schmancy technology to accomplish this difficult task:

  • Microphone array: The Fire TV Cube’s “microphone” is actually an array of eight individual microphones, as shown by the circles in Figure 3-8. Note that these microphones are arranged somewhat narrowly from the front of the device to the back. The line created by this arrangement is the direction that Fire TV Cube expects your voice commands to come from. This is why, as I explain earlier (see “Positioning your Fire TV Cube”), you need to place your Fire TV Cube so that the front (where the Amazon logo resides) is pointing to where you sit when you watch TV.
  • Noise reduction: Detects unwanted audio signals (known in the audio trade as noise) and reduces or eliminates them.
  • Acoustic echo cancellation: Detects sounds coming from a nearby loudspeaker (such sounds are known as acoustic echo) — even if that loudspeaker is the Fire TV Cube itself — and reduces or cancels them to ensure accurate voice recordings.
  • Beamforming: Uses the microphone array to determine the direction your voice is coming from and then uses that directional information to home in on your voice.
  • Barge-in: The microphone ignores whatever media the Alexa device is currently playing — such as a song or podcast — so that the microphone can more easily detect and recognize a simultaneous voice command (thus enabling that command to “barge in” on the playing media).
  • Speech recognition: Detects the audio patterns associated with speech and focuses on those patterns instead of any surrounding noises.

Pushing the Fire TV Cube’s buttons

Your Fire TV Cube is built to be a hands-free device, which is a welcome design choice when you have one hand in a bowl of popcorn and the other clutching your favorite beverage. However, hands-free doesn’t mean hands-off because your Fire TV Cube’s outer shell is festooned with four buttons that you can use to control certain aspects of the device.

Here’s a summary of the available buttons:

  • Action: Activates Alexa. That is, pressing the Action button is the same as saying Alexa’s wake word.
  • Microphone Off: Turns the Fire TV Cube microphone off. When the microphone is off, this button glows red, as does the Fire TV Cube light ring. Press this button again to turn the microphone back on.
  • Volume Up: Increases the volume (no surprise, there).
  • Volume Down: You guessed it: decreases the volume.

How to connect Fire TV Cube to your TV

Your Fire TV Cube connects to your TV’s HDMI port, which on most TVs is labeled HDMI. If your TV has multiple HDMI ports (as most modern TVs do), then the ports are usually labeled HDMI 1, HDMI 2, and so on.

Your Fire TV Cube has a built-in infrared transmitter that enables you to use voice commands to control other devices in your home entertainment system, such as your TV (for example, to turn it on and off), audio receiver, Blu-ray player, cable set-top box, or satellite receiver. In other words, your Fire TV Cube, besides being a streaming media device and a smart speaker, is also a universal remote!

The IR transmitter (some folks call it an IR blaster) is inside Fire TV Cube, but it may not work for some devices that you’ve stored inside a cabinet or other enclosed area. Are you out of the IR blaster game in that case? Not at all. Instead, you can connect the IR extender cable that comes with Fire TV Cube. Connect the IR extender cable’s jack to the corresponding port on the back of Fire TV Cube, and then position the cube end of the cable as close as you can to the enclosed device or devices you want to control.

With your Fire TV Cube connected to your TV, grab the power cable that came with your Fire TV Cube. Connect one end of the power cable to the power port on the back of the Fire TV Cube, and plug the other end of the cable into a power outlet.

Turn on your TV and change the input source to your Fire TV Cube’s HDMI connection.

How to set up Fire TV Cube

Your Fire TV Cube comes with an Alexa Voice Remote that you can use to navigate the Fire TV interface. You may decide to opt only to use Alexa voice commands to control Fire TV, but you still need the remote to get through the initial configuration. So, before proceeding, remove the back cover of the Alexa Voice Remote, insert the two batteries that came with Fire TV Cube, and then reattach the back cover.

When you tune to the Fire TV Cube HDMI port on your TV, the Fire TV Cube starts up for the first time and takes you through the following setup process:

1. On the Alexa Voice Remote, press the Play/Pause button.

Fire TV Cube asks you to choose your language.

2. Use the Alexa Voice Remote to choose the language you want to use.

I talk about how to use the Alexa Voice Remote in more detail in Chapter 4. For now, you use the Alexa Voice Remote to “choose” something by using the navigation ring to press Down (the bottom part of the ring), Up (the top part of the ring), Left (the left part of the ring), or Right (the right part of the ring) to highlight the item you want; then press Select (the circular area in the middle of the navigation ring).

After a few moments, Fire TV Cube displays a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks.

3. Choose your Wi-Fi network.

Fire TV Cube prompts you to enter the network password.

4. Use the Alexa Voice Remote’s navigation ring to enter each character in your network password, and then choose Connect (or press Play/Pause on the remote).

If your network password requires one or more uppercase letters, you can switch to uppercase characters by choosing the aA button or by pressing Menu on the Alexa Voice Remote.

Fire TV Cube connects to your network and then checks to see if there is an available update to Fire OS, the operating system that runs Fire TV Cube. If an update is available, Fire TV Cube downloads and installs the software, which can take a few minutes. Note that Fire TV Cube may restart during this process.

Eventually, Fire TV Cube asks you to sign in to your Amazon account.

5. Choose I Already Have an Amazon Account.

Fire TV Cube displays the Enter Your Amazon Login ID screen.

What if you don’t have an Amazon account? No problem. Choose I Am New to Amazon; then use the Create Account screen to set up your account.

6. In the Email Address field, use the Alexa Voice Remote’s navigation ring to type your Amazon account’s email address, and then choose Next.

Fire TV Cube displays the Enter Your Amazon Account Password screen.

7. In the Password field, use the Alexa Voice Remote’s navigation ring to type your Amazon account’s password, and then choose Sign In.

By default, Fire TV Cube hides the password by displaying each character as a dot. If you want to make sure you entered the password correctly, choose the Show Password button.

If you’ve enabled two-factor authentication on your Amazon account, Fire TV Cube will prompt you to enter a code to verify the sign-in. Type the code that was sent to you, and then choose the Next button.

Fire TV Cube confirms your Amazon credentials, signs in to your account, and then registers your Fire TV Cube. Fire TV Cube then asks which Amazon account you want to use.

8. Choose Continue.

Fire TV Cube now asks if you want to save your Wi-Fi password to Amazon. This is part of a feature that Amazon calls Wi-Fi Simple Setup, which enables other Amazon devices you own (such as Echo smart speakers) to automatically connect to your network. This feature really makes setting up those devices easier, so it’s a good idea to let Amazon save your password.

9. Choose Yes.

Fire TV Cube now prompts you to enable parental controls.

10. Choose No Parental Controls.

Fire TV Cube asks if you want to set up your streaming services.

11. Choose No Thanks.

If you do want to set up your services now, choose Get Started, and then follow the onscreen prompts.

Fire TV Cube asks if you want Alexa to help you set up your TV and other equipment.

12. Choose Continue.

If you don’t want to bother with this, choose Do This Later, instead.

To actually do this later, choose Settings→Equipment Control→Set Up Equipment.

13. Gather the remote controls for each device you want Fire TV Cube to control, and then choose Next.

You need the remotes both to confirm when Fire TV Cube has successfully controlled some aspect of the device (by pressing the Fast Forward button) and to perform certain tasks that Fire TV Cube wants to learn how to perform itself (such as changing the input source on your TV).

Fire TV Cube runs through your devices, trying each time to detect the device automatically. If Fire TV Cube detects an incorrect device, be sure to choose No and then select the correct device from the list that appears.

14. When the equipment setup is complete, choose Continue.

That’s it! Your Fire TV Cube is ready to roll.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Paul McFedries is a technical writer who has been authoring computer books since 1991 and has over 100 books to his credit. These books include Alexa For Dummies, Amazon Fire TV For Dummies, and Cord Cutting For Dummies. You can visit Paul on the web at

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