Just in time for the holidays, the Amazon Fire TV Cube is gaining a new feature for you to video chat with friends and family.
Over the next few weeks, Amazon is rolling out an update that will let you connect a webcam to the Fire TV Cube so you can make video calls to any Alexa device with a screen, which includes smartphones, Fire tablets and smart displays. Here's all the details, and how to set it up.
How to use your Fire TV Cube as a webcam
What you'll need
First, you'll need a 2nd-generation Fire TV Cube, a webcam, and a USB-to-microUSB adapter, so you can connect the webcam to the Fire TV Cube. The Fire TV Cube also has to be updated, which will be pushed out to devices over the coming weeks in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Amazon recommends using a webcam that supports UVC with a resolution of at least 720p and 30fps, and that you should sit 6-10 feet away from the webcam. It does not recommend 4K webcams and distances of more than 12 feet.
How to set up your Fire TV Cube to use it as a webcam
1. Connect the webcam and adapter to your Fire TV Cube, and turn on your TV.
2. If the webcam is compatible, you'll see a notification that the camera can be used.
3. Open the Alexa app on your smartphone. Select the Devices tab, and select the Fire TV Cube.
4. Switch Communications to Enabled to allow messaging and video and audio calling. Here, you can also turn on Drop In.
5. Import your contacts. Select the Communication tab in the Alexa app.
6. Next tap on the person icon in the top right.
7. Press the ... menu in the top right corner.
8. Select Import Contacts.
How to make a video call using the Fire TV Cube
After setting everything up, just say "Alexa, call Jeff's Echo" to start a call. You can make both audio and video calls.
If you have an incoming call, your TV will show the caller ID, and Alexa will announce the name of the caller. Answer by saying, “Alexa, answer."
All calls will start with the video turned off. To turn on video, say “Alexa, video on.” Alternatively, you can use the menu or down button on your remote. To end a call, just say "Alexa, end call."
Being able to use the Fire TV Cube is a clever way of extending the device's capabilities, and makes it a compelling — and cheaper — alternative to the $149 Facebook Portal TV. However, the real trick will be finding a webcam in the first place; since the pandemic started, many of the best webcams have been sold out. We're curious to see if you can use a GoPro or some other camera as a webcam for this purpose; once our Fire TV Cube is updated, we'll give it a try and let you know.
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Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.