Since then, Amazon upgraded its Hearth TV Dice software program to help a wider array of voice instructions, extra streaming companies and people aforementioned voice-messaging options. Together with that, it launched an all-new Hearth TV Dice, which guarantees to be sooner and extra highly effective than earlier than, and it now helps Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HDR+. It would look the identical on the surface, however on the within, it’s a lot higher. Should you’re in search of an all-in-one Alexa-powered streaming field, the brand new Hearth TV Dice is worthy of consideration.
Design-wise, the brand new Hearth TV Dice is similar to its predecessor. It is clad in a shiny black field that appears, nicely, like a dice. (Strictly talking, it is not a dice since its sides are totally different lengths.) It has a easy, minimalist look that ought to mix nicely with most house theaters — it seems respectable sufficient on my TV stand anyway.
On the highest are a couple of controls: two quantity buttons, a microphone mute toggle plus a multi-function “motion” button that you should utilize to activate Alexa. Surrounding the highest of the Dice is a blue ring that lights up at any time when Alexa is triggered. On the rear are an HDMI port, a port for an IR extender, a microUSB port that you should utilize to connect an ethernet adapter (comes included within the field) and, after all, the facility port. For the reason that Hearth TV Dice is supposed for use within the open, the IR extender is beneficial in case you hold your leisure parts hidden inside a closed cupboard. (You’d hold the extender within the cupboard with them.)
One observe of warning: The Hearth TV Dice must be positioned at the very least one to 2 toes away out of your audio system in order that the microphones can decide up your voice higher. This was mildly annoying for me as I used to be planning on having the Dice subsequent to my TV as a result of the remainder of my cabinets had been full. However after some rearranging, it labored out alright.
What units the 2019 Hearth TV Dice other than its predecessor is its new hexa-core processor. It permits Native Voice Management, an on-device processing characteristic that enables for faster execution of frequent voice instructions with out Alexa having to entry the cloud on a regular basis. Amazon says that this implies the brand new Hearth TV Dice is almost 4 occasions sooner than its predecessor.
I wasn’t in a position to evaluate this 12 months’s Hearth TV Dice to final 12 months’s mannequin, but it surely does appear extremely responsive throughout my time with it. Telling Alexa to “mute” or “go house” resulted in close to instantaneous outcomes. I used to be impressed at how briskly it elevated the TV quantity and the quickness through which it quick forwarded or rewinded via movies. The one occasions Alexa lagged was when looking for TV reveals and films, and even then, I solely encountered the occasional pause.
One other massive replace to the brand new Hearth TV Dice is help for Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HDR+. (The earlier model solely had help for HDR.) That makes it suitable with all kinds of recent TVs and could be a very good slot in most house theaters. My TV is unfortunately behind the occasions so I could not take a look at this out, however I might nonetheless admire having the Hearth TV Dice within the occasion I get a brand new one.
Like the unique Hearth TV Dice, the brand new mannequin has eight far-field microphones and superior beamforming expertise designed to seize your voice from throughout the room, even when the TV is blaring at full quantity. Amazon says that it combines the alerts from microphones to suppress totally different noises reminiscent of competing speech in addition to audio from the TV. From my expertise, it does a extremely good job at responding to my instructions once I’m yelling at it from throughout the room. I even efficiently shouted at it from the entrance porch.
The Hearth TV Dice comes with a distant, however you do not have to make use of it more often than not (because of Alexa), particularly as you’ll be able to ask it to launch any of the totally different streaming apps, seek for particular reveals and even activate further like sound bars. It acts as a common distant, at the very least with units which have IR receivers. Alexa additionally works nice for navigating the Hearth TV UX. You may say “scroll down” or “choose quantity four” if you see the corresponding search outcomes. One in every of my favourite instructions is asking Alexa to quick ahead a couple of minutes so I can get via commercials sooner.
The Hearth TV Dice runs on Hearth OS, which has an analogous interface to different Hearth TV merchandise. You not solely have entry to streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu but additionally stay video via Twitch. You may, after all, purchase or lease motion pictures and TV reveals via Amazon’s video service. Notably, Google lastly agreed previously few months to permit each YouTube and YouTube TV on Hearth OS as nicely. Meaning Hearth OS helps practically each single streaming video app on the market, which is an excellent factor.
More often than not, the Hearth OS does a very good job at citing motion pictures and TV reveals together with an inventory of tips on how to watch them. It would not essentially give preferential remedy to Amazon’s personal Prime service, both. Once I requested Alexa for Ocean’s Twelve, for instance, it instantly began taking part in it on Netflix as a substitute of suggesting I lease or purchase the model on Amazon.
That mentioned, some apps do get preferential remedy. For instance, once I looked for Steven Universe, the interface pushed me to observe them on Ps Vue, which is an Amazon accomplice, quite than on a competing service like Hulu or YouTube TV. Once I search for reveals from HBO, Starz and Showtime, it tends to push me to get them via Prime Subscriptions as a substitute of the person apps.
Moreover, I can solely change channels by voice on choose stay TV companies reminiscent of Hulu Reside and PS Vue, however not on YouTube TV. So if I had been a Hulu subscriber and I mentioned “Alexa, watch ESPN on Hulu” that might carry up the ESPN channel on Hulu. However saying “Alexa, watch ESPN on YouTube TV” would not work the identical method — as a substitute, it’s going to carry up an ESPN-related video on YouTube, not YouTube TV. That is not solely stunning attributable to YouTube TV’s latest arrival on Hearth OS, but it surely was nonetheless disappointing.
Except for a method to watch TV, the Hearth TV Dice primarily turns your TV into a large Echo Present. I can ask it to do all the same old Alexa capabilities like checking the climate, discovering the most recent sports activities scores, and taking part in tunes — Amazon Music music lyrics will even seem on the TV display screen. It will also be used to investigate cross-check your Ring and Cloud Cam cameras. It will work with Alexa-compatible good house units too, like Hue lights and Ecobee thermostats. As talked about earlier, the brand new Hearth TV Dice additionally helps voice communications like calls, audio messages and intercom capabilities — you’ll be able to talk from the Hearth TV Dice to different Amazon units and use it to broadcast to the remainder of the home that method.
If you have already got an Echo, you is perhaps higher off getting a Hearth TV Stick as a substitute of the Dice. The Stick has Dolby Imaginative and prescient help, prices simply $40 and has practically all the similar options. There are a couple of Dice options you may miss although: the flexibility to navigate the UX together with your voice, the management of the remainder of your leisure system and the sooner response time.
But when you do not have an Echo and also you need an Alexa-powered streaming machine, then the brand new Hearth TV Dice will not be a foul selection. Whereas final 12 months’s Amazon Hearth TV Dice could have been disappointing as a result of lack of options, the newer mannequin beats it in virtually each method. There are extra sturdy video viewing voice instructions, help for Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HDR+, and far sooner response occasions. It additionally works fairly nicely instead Alexa-powered good show in case you do not have already got one. For $120, that is not a foul deal.