Amazon's Alexa Voice Remote Pro Comes Loaded with Convenience Features
Amazon packs an Alexa Voice Remote into the box with all its Fire TV products, and Alexa does a great job of helping navigate the sheer volume of content and features available through the Fire TV platform. However, the standard remote is pretty basic, with little ability to customize buttons and missing useful functions, like the remote finder that is available for Roku streaming devices. Amazon's new Alexa Voice Remote Pro ($34.99) is loaded with convenience features that fill these holes and more, making it a pleasure to use and worthy of consideration for upgrading your current Fire TV remote.
Amazon sent me an Alexa Voice Remote Pro and Fire TV Cube (3rd generation) for testing a few days ago. I found the remote has small but significant upgrades over the other Alexa remotes, and three of the new features won me over immediately. First, you can ask Alexa to find the remote, and it will emit a sound. Second, the backlit buttons make using the remote in the dark possible. And finally, you can easily assign the two user-programmable buttons to anything – including Alexa commands. The Alexa Voice Remote Pro is a worthwhile upgrade, especially if you have Alexa-controlled smart home devices.
When it’s dark, a backlight will illuminate the keys for just a few seconds – long enough to find and press a button. You can jiggle the remote to reactivate the light if you need a second look.
Like the Alexa Voice Remote, the Pro has four dedicated channel buttons and buttons for settings, live TV, and Alexa, in addition to the buttons you’d expect to find for controlling your TV and video streaming. There are also unique buttons – two user-programmable buttons and a dedicated headphone button for connecting to Bluetooth headphones.
The two user-programmable buttons (labeled "1" and "2" in the image above) are my favorite feature of the Alexa Voice Remote Pro. You can assign the buttons to apps, Alexa commands, and a small selection of menu items – live TV guide, your Watchlist, notifications, Profiles, Amazon Photos, Amazon Music, and My Stuff (stuff you’ve purchased). Assigning the buttons is easy. You press and hold the button you want to program, and a list of options pops up. You’ll see the last app you opened and recent Alexa commands. For example, I always ask Alexa to turn off one of our living room lights when I watch TV. Now, I can just press a button. You can only assign a button to a individual show by creating an Alexa command to watch the show (press the voice button and say "play Pennyworth") and then linking the programmable button to that command. It's awkward, but it works.
The dedicated headphone button makes setting up and using your Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth speaker easy. Press the button, and you will see a menu to add a new Bluetooth device or select one you have already paired with your Fire TV product. Once paired, the Fire TV will automatically connect with a Bluetooth speaker or headphones if you turn them on nearby, and the headphones button will also disconnect your Bluetooth headphones when you want to use your TV or soundbar.
The remote finder is another handy feature of the Alexa Voice Remote Pro. Ask Alexa to find your remote, and it will play an impressively loud tone. I tried burying the remote under the sofa cushion, and I could still hear it if the room were quiet.
The Alexa Voice Remote Pro (top) is shorter than the regular Alexa Voice Remote (bottom) and noticeably heavier. It feels good in your hand, and is easy to access most buttons with one hand.
My one big disappointment in the Alexa Voice Remote Pro is that it uses regular AAA batteries instead of a rechargeable battery, like in the Roku Voice Remote Pro, which charges via Micro USB, and the Samsung eco remote, which has a solar panel for recharging.
The Alexa Voice Remote Pro works with most Fire TV streaming media players and TVs with Fire TV built-in (check the compatibility guide). All of these products come with a standard Alexa Voice Remote in the box. Still, the convenience of having user-programmable buttons, the remote finder function, and backlit keys for nighttime use make the Alexa Voice Remote Pro an experience-changing upgrade.
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For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.