Amazon’s Fire TV streaming sticks are among the best streamers out there – but they kind of reached peak hardware at this point, with new versions not changing too much about the device. And the same can be said about their remotes.
And yet – late last year, Amazon released a “Pro” version of their Fire TV Alexa Remote – one which strangely doesn’t even come with any of the Fire TV devices (not even the expensive Fire TV Cube). Instead, you need to buy the Pro remote separately if you want to enjoy its additional features.
So what’s so different about it? Not much. The Alexa Voice Remote Pro adds a “Find My Remote” feature that makes it beep when you can’t find it, it has two customisable shortcut buttons, and useful backlighting that turns on automatically when you pick the remote up.
Other than that – it’s almost the same remote we all know and love from the Fire TV. It’s still a slim-shaped, easy-to-hold remote, it has the same Alexa press-to-talk button (and microphone), and the usual set of control buttons.
So, does it justify spending £34.99 on a standalone remote? Maybe in a few use cases. So let’s dig in deeper…
Quick Look – Alexa Voice Remote Pro
What is it: A pro version of Amazon’s Fire TV remote that adds a few advanced features to the basic remote.
Value for Money
- Looks and feels nicer than the regular remote
- Remote Finder feature is useful
- Backlighting is soft but helpful in the dark
- Two customisable buttons that can be used in many ways
- Remote Finder requires an Echo device (or an app on your phone)
- The four bottom shortcut buttons are still not customisable
- Expensive as a standalone device
It’s an excellent remote for Fire TV devices – and one that would upgrade any Fire TV stick (especially the more expensive ones). But at its current price point, it’s hard to justify buying a new, separate remote just for the few added functions.
Using The Alexa Voice Remote Pro
If you’re a Fire TV device owner, you’re already quite familiar with its remote. It hasn’t changed too much since the very first Fire TV – yes, buttons were added along the way, and the main upgrade was when a microphone was added for Alexa voice control – but the overall look and feel remained constant.
The new Alexa Voice Remote Pro takes the well-known design, and tweaks it just a bit. The remote is a bit narrower than the current non-Pro remotes, and there are even MORE buttons this time around.
More buttons aren’t always a good thing, mind you – remember those DVDs from years past, that had remotes with thousands of buttons that no one ever used? Sometimes less is more.
The Pro remote edges dangerously close to the too-many-buttons territory, but it’s not quite there yet – if you’re used to the Fire TV’s remote, you’ll quickly get used to the new buttons and be able to find them in the dark.
Not that you would need to – since the Pro remote finally adds backlighting, which is a godsend, especially with an abundance of buttons.
The backlight isn’t always-on – instead, the lights turn on only when you pick up the remote, which helps save on the batteries (a pair is thankfully included in the box).
The remote is compatible with most Fire TV devices sold in the UK, except for the 1st/2nd generation Fire TV boxes and the 1st generation Fire TV Stick.
It also works with most of the TVs that have a Fire TV built into them.
The New Shortcut Buttons
The other major physical difference on the Pro remote is the two customisable shortcut buttons.
The Fire TV’s remotes have had shortcut buttons for a while now – but they’re pre-configured (with shortcuts to Amazon’s own streaming services, or ones that reportedly pay Amazon for that prime remote location), and you can’t change them (not in an easy way, at least).
On the Pro remote, there are two additional shortcut buttons – aptly titled “1” and “2”, that you can easily customise. All it takes is pressing one of these buttons for a couple of seconds – and you will see a “Recent” list of Fire TV apps and commands, that you can then assign to the shortcut key.
So, let’s say you want Button 1 to always open the Plex app. You open the app on your Fire TV, long-press the 1 button, and then choose the Plex app from the recently-launched apps list that shows up – and viola.
If you want to get a bit more adventurous, you can even assign Alexa voice commands to the shortcut button – which also opens the way for complete Alexa routines that you pre-configure.
So, for example, if you tell the remote (by pressing the Alexa button) “Turn on the garden light” – and you have a smart garden light connected to your Alexa eco-system – you can then assign the shortcut button to that command.
These two buttons are certainly useful, even if they’re not exactly game-changers.
Find My Remote
Another major new feature on the Pro remote is the “Find my remote” function. Now, when you lose the remote (it’s under the sofa, obviously), you can say to Alexa “Find my remote”, and the remote will start beeping and flashing its lights until you pick it up and calm it down.
There’s a catch – though. Most Fire TV devices – except for the Fire TV Cube – don’t have their own microphones. And even the Pro remote doesn’t have an always-on microphone, and still has the Alexa button that you have to push to activate voice control.
So, see the problem? If your remote is lost, there’s no way for you to activate its voice control, and how are you going to query Alexa about it?
There are two solutions for this: If you own an Echo device and it’s anywhere in the house – you can ask IT to find your remote, and that’ll trigger the beeping (the remote, however, has to be within about 9 meters of your Fire TV device for this to work).
Another option is to use the Fire TV app on your smartphone. It now has a ‘Find My Remote’ function as well. Not as smooth as ASKING for it, but it’ll do the trick.
Lastly, the Alexa Voice Remote Pro also adds an “Earphones” button, to help you pair Bluetooth earphones with your Fire TV, for quiet listening. Mind you, the only thing that button does, is simply pop up the relevant configuration screen on your Fire TV – one you could reach by digging into the menus.
So it’s easier to have a shortcut for earphones, perhaps – but the button gives the impression of an added capability – which is already built into the Fire TV without the need for the Pro remote.
Bottom Line: Is The Alexa Voice Remote Pro Worth It?
It’s hard to discuss the Fire TV’s Pro remote without taking a look at Roku’s Pro remote – which, unfortunately, isn’t sold in the UK.
Roku’s Pro remote, which costs roughly the same, also has a Lost Remote function – but since it has a near-field microphone, you can talk to the remote without needing an external device or an app.
The Roku Pro remote also has an earphones port, so you can plug in actual earphones with an actual cord (if you still have any of those lying around), it has two personal shortcut buttons, and – it includes rechargeable batteries.
So, judging by features alone, the Roku Pro remote is the better deal here – and perhaps Amazon should have taken a closer look at the Roku remote.
And yet, it’s not that I have anything bad to say about The Alexa Pro remote – I like the new features, and they do make the remote more useful. I just wish it was included by default with the newer Fire TV devices themselves (at least the more expensive ones), instead of being sold as a standalone upgrade.
If you happen to lose your original Fire TV remote – or need a new one for whatever reason – I’d certainly pick this one up, as it’s worth the extra £5 over buying the non-Pro standalone remote.
But if your current Fire TV remote is fine and dandy – the Pro may be a lovely Christmas or birthday gift – but it’s certainly not essential.
Note: The remote was supplied by the manufacturer for this review. As always, this did not influence my unbiased opinion of the product.