Just in time for Black Friday and the holiday season, Amazon has announced a new Fire TV accessory. Similar to universal remotes, the Fire TV Blaster uses infrared (IR) to help TVs, soundbars, satellite/cable boxes and AV receivers work together wirelessly. (So sadly, it doesn't actually blast fire from your telly.)
What does Amazon's new companion device bring to the AV party? The 2-inch black box means that, with any Echo Smart speaker plus a Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV stick with Alexa voice remote or third-gen Fire TV, you can control your TV with your voice, hands-free.
Plug the TV Blaster into the mains within two feet of (and in the same line of sight as) the TV and Echo you want it to control, download the latest version of the Fire TV app on your smartphone or tablet, follow the prompts and you'll soon be saying "Alexa, turn off the TV" as you leave the room. Simple. You can switch inputs and control power, volume and playback, all hands-free.
The Amazon Fire TV Blaster is essentially a little IR blaster equipped with the necessary wi-fi hardware to communicate with other Fire TV products, plus an extra port to attach an IR extender – useful if you need to get the signal to harder-to-reach spots. There’s no speaker or microphone built in to the Fire TV Blaster; that'll be taken care of by your regular Alexa device.
It's potentially a neat proposition, because it'll give Amazon’s other Fire TV hardware the TV-controlling functionality of Amazon’s IR-blaster-equipped (and five star) Fire TV Cube, but for less money – and without requiring customers to re-jig their entire AV setup.
Still wondering if you've got all the right kit needed to use one? Don't fret, Amazon has helpfully provided a guide.
Remember, one thing the Blaster is not is a stand-alone device. You need both a compatible Fire TV streaming device and any Echo smart speaker or smart display. Together these three devices bring hands-free voice control to TVs, soundbars, satellite and cable boxes, and AV receivers.
The Amazon Fire TV Blaster is available to preorder now and is slated for release on 11th December, for $34.99 or $74.99 if you purchase a bargain bundle comprising the the Blaster, Fire TV Stick 4K and Echo Dot.
In the UK, preorder prices start at £34.99 for the Blaster alone – shipping on the same date, 11th December. UK customers can also get a Fire TV Stick 4K, Echo Dot and Fire TV Blaster bundle for £86.98 instead of £134.97 – a saving of £47.99 against the recommended retail price.