Pour one out for the old sleek Amazon Fire TV Alexa voice remote. Amazon is copying the worst of Roku’s remote by adding four preset buttons for streaming services. They are brightly colored and do not appear to be programmable. If you don’t subscribe to these four services, the buttons will be completely unusable.
Amazon revealed the new Alexa Voice Remote (3rd generation) On Wednesday. The product description says, “With preset app buttons for Netflix, Prime Video, Disney + and Hulu, you can quickly access your favorite content.” Three of these presets are also present on Roku’s voice remote, although they are swapped for Prime Video in Sling.
The new Alexa Voice remote also has a guide button that takes you to a wire-like grid of live programming. The remote control comes with Fire TV Stick devices (3rd generation) and can also be purchased separately for $ 29.99 on Amazon. The remote control is compatible with Fire TV Stick (2nd and 3rd generation), Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Cube (1st and 2nd generation). It doesn’t work with Fire TV Edition Smart TVs.
The Prime Video button makes sense because Amazon wants to keep users internal as much as possible. But why should you add presets to your competitors? The answer can only be: $$$. ON Bloomberg report Roku announced that Roku is charging Netflix and other streamers for the real estate on its remote control: “At $ 1 per customer for each button, the cost can quickly add up to millions in monthly fees.”
Think of the presets more like billboards, tiny billboards that take users straight to streaming services. And since Roku and Amazon are the No. 1 and No. 2 streaming device manufacturers in the US, that is a lot of billboards in private homes. Even the most recent iteration of the Chromecast with Google TV has a remote control with Netflix and YouTube buttons (Google owns the latter, but the former certainly makes them some money).
If you don’t subscribe to all (or some) of these services, the buttons will be completely unusable. If Amazon and Roku had only cared about the user experience, they could have designed their remotes with four blank, programmable buttons so users could create shortcuts to their favorite apps.
(Note: The Roku Ultra comes with a remote control that has two programmable buttons.)
The previous Fire TV remote was so simple and sleek that adding brand presets feels cluttered and garish. And does Amazon really need more money selling remote storage? On the flip side, using a preset is a quick way to escape the all-Amazon-all-the-time vibe of the Fire TV interface. So your mileage can vary.