Amazon's new Fire TV Cube lets you ask Alexa to change the channel

Key Points
  • The Amazon Fire TV Cube was just announced.
  • It works like a Fire TV with an Echo built into it.
  • You can control the Fire TV and even a cable box by voice.
The Amazon Fire TV Cube

Amazon announced the Fire TV Cube on Thursday. It's basically a Fire TV with a speaker and the Alexa smart assistant built-in. Amazon hasn't done this before.

The Fire TV Cube connects to your TV and can provide up to 4K UHD content from Amazon Prime services, Hulu, Netflix and other apps. It also serves as an Echo speaker, which means you can do things like call across the room to check the weather, turn on the lights, order things from Amazon or call a friend.

"One thing that's happened over the last few years is that there are more and more ways to watch content. We wanted to create a device to simplify that," Sandeep Gupta, VP of product development of Amazon Fire TV, said on CNBC's "Squawk Alley."

There's a reason this is cooler than similar streaming boxes on the market, though, including Amazon's earlier Fire TV gadgets.

The Amazon Fire TV Cube in a living room

Unlike other Echo and Fire TV products, it supports cable TV boxes, giving users the option to change by voice the cable TV channel they're watching. "Tune to CNBC," or "tune to channel 834," you might say. Comcast, DISH and DirecTV are a few of the cable services it will support at launch.

"You come home, you plug it in and straight away it manages all of that for you, with voice, hands-free from wherever you are," Gupta said.

Some cable subscribers might already be used to similar functionality. With Comcast X1, for example, you can speak into your remote to change the cable channel. Now, you'll be able to control your cable box, your Fire TV and ask Alexa questions.

It's a unique move for Amazon, which has so far seemed to try to keep users inside the Fire TV app and away from cable TV. This also means Amazon is now catering not only to cord cutters but those who still pay for cable.

The Fire TV Cube launches June 21 for $119.99.

Disclosure: Comcast owns CNBC parent NBCUniversal and is a co-owner of Hulu.

Amazon unveils Fire TV Cube
Amazon unveils Fire TV Cube