Amazon today announced its Fire TV Blaster, an add-on for Fire TV and Echo devices that brings Alexa capabilities to existing TVs, soundbars, cable and satellite boxes, and stereo receivers.
“Fire TV Blaster uses infrared (IR) to help TVs, soundbars, satellite and cable boxes, and A/V receivers work together wirelessly,” the Amazon product page notes. “Fire TV Blaster is a companion device that requires 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 A/V receivers.”
Fire TV Blaster is tiny—a bit over 2-inches tall—and inexpensive ($35), and it basically adds hands-free (read: voice-based) control to compatible TVs, soundbars, satellite and cable boxes, and receivers from Samsung, Sony, LG, Vizio, Comcast, DISH, and DIRECTV/AT&T U-verse, and more. (This support page has all the details.) It requires a Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, Fire TV Stick 4K, or a Fire TV (3rd generation) and any Echo smart speaker or smart display.
From what I can tell, the Fire TV Blaster is basically a way for those with a Fire TV Stick and an Echo speaker to duplicate the additional functionality they’d get if they had a Fire TV Cube, which comes with its own IR blaster capabilities. The Echo device is required because the Fire TV Blaster doesn’t have a microphone or speaker of its own.