Amazon Hearth TV Dice Overview

Verdict

Should you’re after for a streaming participant that may play content material from all the main apps in good high quality and grants management over your own home cinema arrange by way of your voice, the Hearth TV Dice ticks all these bins. The omission of an HDMI cable is odd omission, and if you happen to’re not fussed about controlling your own home cinema units, the Hearth TV Stick 4K does an analogous job for lots much less.

Professionals

  • Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HDR10+ help
  • Pleasing image high quality
  • Management over a variety of dwelling cinema units
  • Set-up is easy and straightforward
  • Alexa is nice (when it really works)

Cons

  • Lacks element within the darkest areas
  • HDMI cable not included
  • Double the worth of the Hearth TV Stick 4K

Key Specs

  • Overview Value: £109.99
  • Hexa-core processor
  • Multi-HDR help
  • Alexa voice management distant
  • 4K as much as 60fps
  • Weight: 465g
  • 16GB inside storage
  • Dolby Atmos

Introduced at IFA 2019, the Amazon Hearth TV Dice is the second model of the mannequin with the primary solely made out there in the USA.

The second era of the Hearth TV Dice sees it lastly journey throughout to the UK. It sits on the prime of Amazon’s Hearth TV vary and is their quickest, strongest Hearth TV product but.

The Hearth TV Dice is ready to do every part a Hearth TV Stick can do, however throws into the combo hands-free management over a wider vary of dwelling cinema merchandise.

Associated: Greatest TV

Amazon Hearth TV Dice design – The omission of a HDMI cable is disappointing

The Hearth TV Dice is, effectively, a dice. Accessible in a shiny black end – which attracts mud and smudges like a moth to a flame – it’s barely nondescript and monolithic in its look, but it surely’s not a tool meant to attract consideration.

The Dice has one HDMI out, a mini-USB and port for the IR extender on its rear. Curiously, there’s no HDMI cable included, which is an odd omission.

The Dice has a HMDI port, however no cable included

What you do get is an elective IR extender, which Amazon has just lately made out there individually – in addition to an elective ethernet adaptor in case your Wi-Fi sign is weak. The aim of the IR extender is to open up the Hearth TV’s attain so it could management units in tight areas or ones locked away in an AV rack.

Contained in the unit are eight microphones and superior beamforming know-how that suppress surrounding noise to listen to your requests. And the Hearth TV Dice make use of native processing so Alexa responds faster. The hexa-core processor powering it goals to supply a quick and fluid efficiency.

The Dice’s gentle might remind you of Knight Rider’s KITT, but it surely’s solely Alexa

On the highest is a cool Knight Rider-esque LED strip that alerts when Alexa is activated. There are additionally 4 buttons – a plus and minus button for quantity, an motion button for Alexa activation and a mute button for privateness. You arguably gained’t use them a lot, however they’re helpful if Alexa isn’t working or the included voice distant has gone walkies.

The distant comes a mute button on the backside – for the TV, not Alexa – and a microphone button to have interaction the voice assistant. In any other case it’s your normal structure, with a D-pad for navigation, playback and quantity controls, dwelling button and so on.

Amazon Hearth TV Dice set-up – Straightforward to set-up, although you’ll want to vary the default HDR setting

Set-up, apart from the dearth of an HDMI cable, is easy. Should you’ve skilled another Hearth TV units, the Dice is way the identical.

One factor to notice is that the Hearth TV Dice must be positioned one to 2 toes (round 30cm) away from a speaker. Presumably so Alexa cannot solely hear you, however isn’t confused by the wash of audio from a speaker that might sound like a command.

The 4 buttons and eight built-in microphones

As soon as plugged in, you’ll be requested to register or create an Amazon account, and thru on-screen prompts Alexa will information you thru the method of organising your TV and connecting to different audio/dwelling cinema merchandise.

This course of is, once more, minimal fuss. You’ll want to verify the model of TV and soundbar from an inventory of supported choices – that are quite a few – and Alexa will flip the TV/soundbar on/off and play music to recognise the inputs.

You’ll be able to improve the variety of merchandise Alexa holds sway over within the Settings menu; whether or not that’s a satellite tv for pc field, AV receiver or sport console. Connecting a Virgin TiVO field concerned letting Alexa know which HDMI port it was linked to, with Alexa switching backwards and forwards between the inputs to verify.

Associated: Amazon Alexa Information

A voice distant can also be included within the field

There’s a potential drawback. Should you’ve linked you Blu-ray participant right into a soundbar, you gained’t have the ability to management it by way of HDMI. That would maybe be remedied by the IR extender, if it could attain, however that is unlikely to be a major difficulty for many.

One factor I’d recommend doing when you’re up and operating is altering the HDR setting from At all times On to Adaptive HDR, so the Hearth TV Dice doesn’t apply HDR to non-HDR content material. Why Amazon continues to set it because the default is relatively odd.

Amazon Hearth TV Dice interface and options – Multi-HDR help is nice, although the interface may very well be higher organised

The interface is similar as earlier than any, and I’ve to say it’s not one I’ve an enormous affinity for.

The homepage is slick, with the primary tabs on prime opening entry to Films, TV exhibits, Apps and Settings. It doesn’t favour Amazon content material as a lot because it did up to now and the homepage displays what you’re watching.

The issue I’ve is sifting by way of Amazon’s personal menus. It’s not at all times straightforward to decipher which movies or TV exhibits you will get from Amazon itself or a channel Prime Video hosts, and scrolling by way of row upon row of titles is boring.

The interface is similar as earlier than, so shall be acquainted to many

Alexa can be utilized to mitigate this. Actually, Amazon heartily endorses that you simply do, with command prompts showing on display screen with regularity (these may be turned off). Alexa helps, as long as you realize what you need, and saves urgent a button for essentially the most mundane of duties.

HDR compatibility is all-inclusive with HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ and Dolby Imaginative and prescient, giving the reassuring feeling that the Hearth TV Dice is extracting one of the best image high quality it’s able to throughout a from a variety of units.

Associated: What’s HDR?

By way of apps and channels, Amazon has promised an enormous quantity of content material

Dolby Atmos can also be supported in case you have the package to take benefit. If not, the Hearth TV Dice can play audio in stereo, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Digital.

By way of apps and channels, Amazon has promised an enormous quantity of content material. It’s not as a lot as Roku – sadly there is no such thing as a Canine Rest Channel – however BBC iPlayer, All 4 and ITV Hub can be found, with Prime Video (naturally), Netflix, Disney Life (Disney Plus subsequent yr), YouTube and Apple TV the primary video apps, with Spotify, Tidal and Vevo providing entry to music companies.

Amazon Hearth TV Dice efficiency – Superb HDR efficiency, however lacks element within the darker areas and Alexa may be flaky at instances

By way of image high quality the Hearth TV Dice places in a lovely efficiency.

Plugged right into a Samsung Q85R, the efficiency from the Hearth TV Dice apps aren’t nearly as good as these on Samsung’s Eden platform. Watching The NFL Present in HD on iPlayer and the colors are extra saturated and black ranges overemphasized to the purpose the place element is misplaced. It’s a bolder picture, however not as refined.

It’s an analogous expertise watching The Morning Present in 4K HDR on Apple TV Plus, with the power of the blacks obscuring some element, however the Amazon app exhibits much less element with brilliant highlights and colors which are much less correct.

Hearth TV model of The Morning Present on the left vs the Samsung Apple TV app efficiency on the appropriate

Detective drama Bosch on Prime Video appears to be like nearer although. There’s rather less element, however colors are arguably a bit punchier and extra expressive at instances.

A swap again to iPlayer for Seven Worlds, One Planet in UHD HLG, and it’s a good looking, resplendent picture. Despite the fact that the primary episode is ready in Antarctica, whether or not its the icy, superbly blue skies or the vivid, multi-coloured sunsets, the Hearth TV Dice delivers an arresting picture.

The Dice places in a lovely efficiency, however you’ll be able to tweak issues within the settings

Element can also be good. Within the occasion the place two Bull Elephant Seals proceed to headbutt one another in a struggle for supremacy, you’ll be able to see the scar tissue of earlier fights and the deep pink rivulets of blood of their mottled fur, which makes for a startling picture.

Alexa is just not at all times the neatest assistant, and never all apps supply the identical stage of voice management. Asking her to pause/play on BBC iPlayer or Apple TV brings up a Hal-esque “Hmmm, I’m unsure I can do this”. Some apps, comparable to All 4, shall be getting in-app voice management later this yr, however you’ll have to preserve that distant close by.

Alexa isn’t built-in into all streaming apps, however nonetheless proves helpful

However when Alexa works, it really works effectively. Search brings up principally correct outcomes and a speedy response to your queries. There are, although, situations the place it’s confused.

Asking it to show the TV on led it to inform me what was displaying on TV. However for more often than not it really works as marketed, whether or not that’s launching apps/content material, switching from inputs or looking for a title. You gained’t should shout both, due to the far-field microphone contained in the unit, it could decide up your voice from throughout the room.  And it stays with you for just a few seconds extra for any observe up questions.

I can’t overestimate how good it feels nudge the quantity up or down, or swap between inputs with my voice. The Hearth TV Dice makes a compelling argument for hands-free operation, even when it’s not on the level the place it’s out there throughout all of the apps.

Buffering speeds can range, too. Mindhunter on Netflix may typically downgrade to a blurry image regardless of having speedy connection. Prime Video on the Hearth TV Dice typically took so much longer than the corresponding Samsung app to load into UHD, taking part in in HD HDR for some time. Surprisingly, BBC iPlayer was fully high quality, loading UHD proper from the get go.

Ought to I purchase the Amazon Hearth TV Dice?

Should you’re available in the market for a streaming machine that may play content material from all the main apps (after which some), does so in good high quality and is ready to (principally) offer you management over your own home cinema arrange by way of your voice, the Hearth TV Dice ticks all these bins.

There are points, however there’s a way they may very well be ironed out by way of updates, though I really feel the UI may use a refresh with the quantity of content material Amazon has. The shortage of an HDMI cable is an odd omission, however the scope and comfort that Alexa provides – at the least when it really works, and if you happen to’re a Prime person – is nice.

At £110 – though it’s out there for £30 much less throughout the Black Friday gross sales – it’s nonetheless costlier than both the Hearth TV Stick 4K or the Roku Streaming Stick Plus.

Whether or not you’ll go for a Hearth TV Dice comes down as to whether you need to deliver management of your varied units into one ecosystem. Should you’re not fussed with that, the Hearth Stick 4K can carry out in the identical method for lots much less.

TV & Audio Editor

Kob started his profession at What Hello-Fi?, beginning within the dusty stockroom earlier than rising up the ranks to hitch the editorial and manufacturing staff because the Purchaser’s Information editor. Skilled in each journal and …

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