The Fire TV Cube 3rd Gen has finally been released and the reviews are pouring in. How well does it perform and will it dethrone the Nvidia Shield TV?
No fluff here, I’ll be getting right into the meat and potatoes of this new Amazon device. To start, I have owned just about all the streaming devices out there. Everything from the original Windows media center, fire stick, and Nvidia Shield TV to the Tivo Stream 4k and Chromecast with Google TV. All but the Shield TV suffers from one big problem, choppy UI (User Interface). This is a pet peeve of mine. I really hate a choppy UI. It just kills the entire stream experience. But anyway, let’s get to it.
Fire TV Cube 3rd Gen Features
Like other Fire TV devices, the Cube has it all. It supports just about every streaming service out there, yes even Vudu. As per the Amazon listing;
Our fastest ever streaming media player is 2X as powerful as the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. With a new octa-core 2.0 GHz processor at the center, you can launch and navigate apps quickly. Fire TV Cube also features Wi-Fi 6E support for smooth streaming and additional ports so you can connect and control other entertainment devices with just your voice. It’s our most advanced streaming media player that delivers every time you hit play.Amazon.com
The device supports an integrated USB port which is great, no more OTG adapters in order to get external storage attached to the limited 16GB (about 11GB) of space. Another great but limiting feature is the integrated Ethernet port. However, strangely they only included a 10/100 port, which in my opinion is a stupid move.
Then, of course, you have full Wifi 6e support, which is what I use since my internet connection is fiber and I won’t waste it on a 10/100 ethernet port, I mean seriously WTF Amazon? All in all, the device has a great feature set. To see it all, just check it out on Amazon.
Unboxing and Setup of the Fire TV Cube 3rd Gen
As always, Amazon has a nice unboxing experience. Everything looks great and it’s easy to dig into. Here is what you get in the box;
- Fire TV Cube
- Power cable/plug
- Fire TV Remote (Non-pro version) with batteries
- User manual
So, be sure you get yourself an HDMI cable because they don’t provide it. Also, if you need an IR extension, you will need to buy that as well.
The setup was pretty simple. I mean all you do is connect the HDMI to an open port on your TV and plug the damn thing in. Pretty easy right? Once powered up, the device will lead you through the setup, familiar stuff if you have used a Fire TV before. Once set up, you will then be ready to play around in the UI and start downloading your apps.
One thing I did first, added a 256GB thumb drive to the cube. This process took a while. It failed a few times as well. I am not sure if it was because the thumb device was too big (256GB) or what. But I would recommend formatting the drive exfat32 on a PC and then insert into the cube. That seemed to have corrected the issue. Be warned though, the cube will format the drive as well and it took a long time. I waited about 10 to 15 minutes before it finally finished. Once the drive was formatted, I started to download apps. Some apps will install on the internal storage of the cube and some will install on the external drive. You have no choice here. If the app supports it, it will go to the external device.
One thing I noticed, if the app goes to the external drive, it takes longer to download and install, so be patient.
Fire TV Cube 3rd Gen Performance
The performance of the device has been interesting. Once the thumb drive was installed and started to be filled with newly installed apps, I noticed some shitty performance. UI was choppy, the screen goes black, and when the screen comes back it defaulted back to the home screen. It seemed to be a mess.
To fix this, be sure to do a full restart of the device after you install the external storage drive. Once I restarted, the UI performed great. Animations while navigating around were smooth, snappy, and without any type of jitter or lag. This is something that you don’t get with most decent-priced streaming devices. The only other one that I have seen this smooth was the recent Fire TV Stick 4k MAX.
Loading apps is quick if they are stored on the internal drive. If an app is loaded on the external drive, there is a small delay. This could be fixed with software updates I think, we will see. So right now, performance-wise, the Fire TV Cube v3 is KING. Check the graph below to see the CPU benchmarks gathered by AFTVNews.com
The Cube has some great scores, but the true test is seeing how it all performs in a real-world environment. Now, you may be wondering, why don’t you see any comparisons with Apple TV? Well, one big reason is that Apple is a closed platform, still, so sideloading the necessary apps isn’t possible. Now with the new Apple TV coming out, it is very possible it will outperform the cube. However, it really all comes down to app support and performance together for the best experience. Closed platforms like Apple can struggle sometimes when it comes to this.
Overall Experience With The Fire TV Cube 3rd Gen
This is a great device. It’s fast, has an easy-to-use and visually pleasing user interface, great audio and video features, and superb app support. Is it worth upgrading from the Cube 2? Well, there is a slight increase in UI performance and some other technical updates. However, you may want to wait for a sale as the improvements might not be too drastic.