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Apple TV 4K vs Amazon Fire TV Cube

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Michael Grothaus

19/06/2018 – 2:58pm

Which has better VOICE control?

With rumors that Apple is prepping to launch its own streaming video service, you can bet the video streaming wars are heating up. Netflix is the undisputed king, but Amazon isn’t far behind.

Apple, however, will be taking on both these giants when it finally unwraps it streaming service sometime in 2019. When it does, it will be able to boast in both making the content and the hardware that content is viewed on (in the form of the Apple TV 4K).

That puts Apple in league with Amazon, which currently makes original content and also the hardware it plays on (the company’s Fire TV lineup).

Speaking of that lineup, Amazon just recently unveiled its latest Fire TV device, the Fire TV Cube.

But just how does this compare to Apple’s latest Apple TV 4K? We take a look to find out.

New Apple TV vs New Amazon Fire TV: Design & Specs

Here are the specs for the Apple TV 4K:

  • Output: HDMI 2.0a
  • Processor: A10X Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture
  • RAM: 3GB 
  • Storage: 32GB or 64GB
  • Max. Output Video Resolution: 4K 2160p with Dolby Vision and HDR10
  • Dimensions: 98(L) x 98(W) x 33(H) mm
  • Weight: 425 g
  • Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Other ports: IR receiver

And here’s the specs for the new Amazon Fire TV Cube:

  • Output: HDMI 2.0a 
  • Processor: Quad-core up to 1.5 GHz | ARM 4xCA53
  • RAM: 2GB 
  • Storage: 16GB 
  • Max. Output Video Resolution: 4K 2160p with Dolby Atmos and HDR10
  • Dimensions: 86.1 mm x 86.1 mm x 76.9 mm
  • Weight: 465 g
  • Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth 4
  • Other ports: Micro USB, IR receiver

When it comes to strictly watching content, both of these devices are neck and neck. They both support 4K HDR video and have the processing power to stream it without a hiccup. In other words, the video is going to look just as good on one as on the other.

As far as storage, the Apple TV wins because it comes in both 32GB and 64 GB models, while the Fire TV Cube only comes in a 16GB configuration.

Again, if you’re only streaming, this won’t really make a difference. But if you’re downloading a bunch of apps or games, you’ll want the bigger storage the Apple TV offers.

In the design department, both are black boxes designed to blend in with your TV. However, the Fire TV Cube is, as its name suggests, cube-shaped, while the Apple TV is shorter and narrower, and thinner.

All that has to do with the way the two companies decided to arrange the internals of the devices and the extra audio detection hardware the Cube has…

Apple TV 4K vs Amazon Fire TV Cube: Control and Remotes

Speaking of audio detection, both devices allow you to control them with your voice. But they achieve this in different ways. Let’s start with the Apple TV.

A major feature of the Apple TV 4K is its remote. Called the “Siri Remote”–you guessed it–remote lets you use Siri to control your Apple TV.

Pressing the Siri button on the remote you can say things like “Find movies with Tom Cruise” and the Apple TV will find them all based on your command.

But you can also use the Siri Remote to navigate within movies too. If you missed something a character has said you can say “What did he say” and Siri will have the Apple TV instantly rewind.

You can also use the Siri Remote to enable things like closed captioning or use it to as your Apple TV about the weather.

And that’s not all the Siri Remote can do. It’s also got a touchpad at its top–no more clicking through menus with directional buttons. Now you can swipe through them with ease.

As if that’s not enough, the Siri Remote also has a built-in IR transmitter so it can actually control the volume on your TV or A/V receiver and turn it on or off too. That means there’s no need to reach for a separate remote to adjust the volume.

The Siri Remote also has a built-in battery that’s charged via the Lightning connector built into it.

All that being said, Amazon thinks it’s one-upped the Apple TV 4K’ Siri remote.

How about no remote at all? While the Fire TV Cube does come with a remote, it’s also designed to be able to be used just by the user speaking to it. That’s because the Fire TV Cube is essentially a mini Echo Dot.

Yes, it’s got the Amazon Alexa assistant built-in meaning you can use your voice to control it–and your TV, soundbar and set-top box.

It achieves this by embedding eight far-field microphones at the top of the Cube streamer, which helps the device pick up your voice no matter where in the room it comes from.

This also means you can ask your Fire TV Cube questions and get information from it just as you can any Alexa device.

Apple TV 4K vs Amazon Fire TV Cube: OS and UI

The Apple TV runs its own OS, called tvOS. It’s got a beautiful new interface that’s much more pleasing to the eye.

In addition to its own App Store, it also features some very cool motion, high definition video screensavers that display when your Apple TV is idle. It’s a small feature, but one that is very cool.

The Fire TV Cube runs Android with a custom HTML5-based skin. You’ve got various-sized tiles representing different content (movies, games, TV shows) and then on the left fifth of the screen, you have a list-type menu which allows you to navigate everything from search to movies to games to settings.

The Apple TV’s UI is a grid system of apps/channels that you select to access the content inside them. The icons are arguably easier to navigate and see, but there does seem to be many more taps on the remote needed to get to specific content than the Fire TV requires.

Apple TV 4K vs Amazon Fire TV Cube: Price & Verdict

As far as content goes, both digital media players offer app stores and double as casual gaming consoles.

Both also have fairly similar specs and voice control–but the Fire TV Cube allows you to do this without a remote.

So which is right for you? It depends on whose ecosystem you’ve tied in to already–Apple’s or Amazon’s? Because, when it comes down to doing the #1 thing these streamers should do–showing beautiful 4K video–both succeed equally well.

The new Amazon Fire TV Cube is only available in America right now. When it comes to the U.K. it should cost around £120. The Apple TV 4K 32 GB model costs £179 and the 64 GB model costs £199.

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