In 2020, Amazon added the ability to do two-way video calls from its Fire TV Cube streaming media devices. At the time, those calls could only be made between Alexa-enabled devices with a screen, like the Echo Show. Now, Amazon is greatly expanding how you can use video calling on the Fire TV Cube through the addition of Zoom support, making your TV a giant Zoom device.
To take advantage of the new feature, you’ll need:
- A Fire TV Cube (2nd-generation) with the latest software update.
- A compatible webcam.
- A Micro USB-to-USB adapter.
- The Zoom app downloaded to your Fire TV.
Amazon has some specific guidance regarding which webcams to use in order to get the best experience. At a minimum, you’ll need a webcam that supports USB Video Class (UVC), which can support 30 frames per second (fps) at a minimum of 720p resolution. For a better experience, Amazon suggests that you pick a webcam with 1080p resolution and a 60- to 90-degree field of view from 6 to 10 feet away from the TV. But don’t go overboard — curiously, Amazon does not recommend buying a 4K-capable webcam, even if you own a 4K TV.
Once your compatible webcam is connected to your Fire TV Cube using the recommended adapter, you’ll need to go to the Fire TV Appstore to download and install the Zoom app. Upon its successful installation, you’ll be able to join Zoom meetings as a guest, or you can sign in to an existing Zoom account. If you choose to sign in, you’ll be able to see your contacts and upcoming meetings and start and join meetings from the app.
And since no Amazon device is complete without an Alexa integration, you can join Zoom meetings with your voice. Just say, “Alexa, join my Zoom meeting,” and Alexa will ask for the meeting ID and passcode. Amazon says you can also use the remote control to provide the meeting ID and passcode if you’d prefer not to say a bunch of random letters and numbers out loud.
Video calling via TVs makes a lot of sense — even more so in our pandemic-inspired remote work reality — but the feature has been very slow to catch on with device makers. Apple has no such capability for the Apple TV HD or 4K, despite these devices working seamlessly with HomeKit-enabled security cameras. Likewise, Roku has yet to announce a way to do video calling. It’s easier to do so on an Android TV device — Google recently promoted the ability to use Google Duo for this purpose — but not all Android TV devices are webcam-compatible. The Nvidia Shield TV (2019) is notable in this regard because it lacks any USB ports, so there’s no way to physically connect a camera or any other USB-based peripherals.
This puts the Amazon Fire TV Cube 2nd-gen at the top of the streaming media device pyramid in terms of offering flexible video calling options. Hopefully, the others will follow Amazon’s lead.
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