How to control your television, cable and satellite box with the Fire TV Cube

Make your Fire TV Cube the hub of your living room

How to control your TV with the Fire TV Cube
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Amazon’s Fire TV Cube is just weeks old, but it’s rapidly risen to the status of one of our top living room gadgets. It’s like Amazon poured the best parts of its Echo and Fire TV Stick into a Magimix, poured the contents into a cube-shaped mold, and the Fire TV Cube was born.

As we noted in our review, the Cube brings Alexa to the living room in a way we’ve not seen before, and while it’s by no means perfect, it offers more than a few glimpses at the future of TV viewing.

Read this: Everything you need to know about Fire TV

But what makes the Fire TV Cube so interesting is in how it brings the living room together. Not only is the Fire TV platform . The Cube can be used to control your TV, soundbar, AV receiver, cable box or satellite receiver - all with the power of voice. For more recent devices that have HDMI-CEC, you'll be able to ask Alexa to switch between them without any added faff. For older devices, the Cube has a built-in IR blaster.

When you first turn on your Fire TV Cube, you’ll be walked through an installation process where you can set up your TV, AV receiver and soundbar. Cable boxes and satellite receivers will need to be added later.

How to set up your TV, AV receiver or soundbar with Fire TV Cube

If you didn’t set these up during the initial setup, or you’ve added/changed some gadgets to your living room since getting a Fire TV Cube, you don’t need to restart the whole process. Instead…

1) Go to Settings

2) Select Equipment Control > Set up Equipment Again

3) Follow the prompts to set up each device in turn

How to control your television, cable box and satellite with the Fire TV Cube

How to add your cable box or satellite receiver to Fire TV Cube

The Fire TV Cube can control cable boxes and satellite receivers from the following providers: Comcast (Xfinity), At&T U-Verse, DISH, Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner Cable, Bright House), Cox/Cox Contour, DirecTV, Verizon Fios, Centurylink Prism, Frontier Fios, Mediacom and Optimum (Cablevision/Altice).

However, there’s no guarantee your box is compatible, so head to the Fire TV Cube product page and click on “Check if your TV, sound equipment, and cable/satellite box works with Fire TV Cube” at the top of the page.

Checked that? Great. To add your cable box or satellite receiver, you need to head to a specific section. So if you think you're compatible, just do the following.

1) Go to Settings

2) Select Equipment Control > Manage Equipment

3) You then want to tap Add Equipment

You'll then be asked to tell it your zip/postal code, followed by your TV provider. After this, it should be able to auto-detect what you're using and will then ask you which TV input your satellite or cable box is coming through. (Important thing to note note: If your box is in a cabinet, use the IR extender cable provided in the box to give it visibility.)

It should then switch to that input. Now, this is the important bit: Alexa will ask you to press the fast forward button on your remote to acknowledge it's switched. Why do we say important? Because we actually didn't actually hear Alexa when it switched as the sound coming through the satellite box drowned it out. Hit the fast forward button and it will attempt to switch back to Fire TV.

You should then get an acknowledgement that Alexa can now switch to your satellite or cable box. If you want to add a games console, you also need to go through the Add Equipment route.

Having problems switching? Sometimes your TV inputs have different names to what the Fire TV Cube shows on its list of options. Try a few different inputs to see if you can find the one that works. If it's still not working, try "Alexa, switch inputs", which will go through them in turn.

Controlling your TV with the Fire TV Cube

Once set up, there are many ways you can use Alexa to control your TV and all the connected boxes. Remember, with the Cube you can speak to Alexa as you would an Echo, ie calling out "Alexa" to the Cube followed by your command, or you can hold down the mic button on the remote. The second method requires an ounce more effort, but you also don't have to say "Alexa" - just bark your command into the controller.

Once you're all set up, here's how you can use Alexa on the Fire TV Cube to watch TV.

"Alexa, switch to satellite/cable" - This will turn over to live TV, picking up on the channel you were last on.

"Alexa, switch to channel 47" - This will cause the Fire TV Cube to switch to your cable or satellite input and go direct to the channel you've requested. If you know your channels, this is a nifty shortcut.

"Alexa, tune to NBC" - Even better than the above option, you can ask Alexa to go to the channel by name. Want to switch to another channel after that? You don't need to go back to the Fire TV; just ask Alexa to "Switch to ESPN" or whatever you desire and it will do so. Alexa should mute the TV while you're speaking, so it can hear what you're asking.

Bonus tip: Commands like "watch", "tune to" and "go to" are all interchangeable when asking Alexa to switch channels.

"Alexa, go home/switch to Fire TV" - Use this to jump back to Fire TV. Alternatively, just press the home button on your remote.

Any time you want to manage your boxes, just head into Settings > Equipment Control > Manage Equipment, where you can reconfigure these devices or assign them to a different input. That's handy if you want to use your Fire TV with a different TV set, but don't want to start the entire setup process all over again.

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