In recent years, Amazon has evolved from an online retailer to an online retailer … that also makes a slew of hardware. And like any other hardware company, that means holding annual events to show off its latest and greatest tech. Amazon’s latest hardware event was Thursday, where the company showcased its latest Alexa devices, Ring devices, and so on. Here’s everything the retail giant had to show off.
Amazon has completely redesigned the Amazon Echo. The new device does away with the cylindrical design found in Echo speakers since the beginning in favor of a new, spherical design. The standard Echo also now has the advantages of the previous-generation Echo Plus — including a Zigbee smart home hub and a bridge to the new Amazon Sidewalk shared network, which is launching later this year. That means you don’t have to shell out extra cash for a more expensive device just to get the smart home connectivity you need.
The new Echo is more powerful, too. It’s powered by Amazon’s new AZ1 Neural Edge processor, which is built for faster machine learning. That means that it should respond to your voice faster, and control smart home devices faster. And, like previous-generation Echo speakers, it’s relatively inexpensive — coming in at only $100. It’s available for order today with shipping starting “later this year.”
The Amazon Echo Dot is getting a design refresh, too. The Echo Dot looks pretty much the same as the full-size Echo, except smaller. It doesn’t have the same smart home hub features, but Amazon says it will offer a fuller frequency response than previous-generation devices.
There’s also an Echo Dot Kids Edition, which offers fun designs and can help kids with their homework, set alarms, and so on. The Kids Edition supports parental controls, and different voice profiles — so the device can automatically switch between responses it would give to parents and to children.
The new Echo Dot comes at $50, while the Echo Dot with Clock and Echo Dot Kids Edition are both $60. They’re available for order today, and again, Amazon says shipping will start “later this year.”
Next up is the new Amazon Echo Show 10, which is built to show what you need it to no matter where you are in the room. The display on the device can actually swivel around, and it will follow you in the room, so you’ll always be able to access it when you need. The motor is built to be quiet, so you can’t really hear it when it turns on, and like the previous-generation Echo Show 10, it has a 10-inch display and Alexa built into it. It also has a 13-megapixel camera for better video calling. According to Amazon, everything processed on the device is local — so it won’t be beamed up to the cloud.
For the new model, Amazon has added a range of video services to the Echo Show. For example, it supports both Zoom and Netflix, so you can watch videos while you’re cooking, or participate in Zoom calls when you’re not at a computer. And you can use the Alexa app to swivel the camera even when you’re not there, which gives the device security camera-like features.
The new Echo Show will be available for $250, and Amazon says it will start shipping — you guessed it — “in time for the holidays.”
Like Apple and Google before it, Amazon is entering the game-streaming world. The new service is called Amazon Luna, and Amazon says it’s a cloud gaming service designed for instant play. There’s a pretty huge range of games available to Luna, too, including some AAA titles like Control, Resident Evil 7, and more. Amazon is even partnering with Ubisoft for titles like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, The Luna+ channel is available for $6 per month.
Along with the actual service, Amazon is launching a controller for Luna. It offers all the buttons and controls you would expect from a game controller, but under the hood it offers Amazon’s Cloud Direct technology, which means it connects directly to Amazon’s servers instead of your local device. This helps cut down on latency, and means that you don’t have to reconnect the controller whenever you switch to a new device. Early pricing for the controller is $50.
Luna will be available for Fire TV, PC, Mac, and on iPhone and iPad through web apps. Amazon says it will support Android “soon.” Customers can request early access to the service now, but there’s no word yet on when it will launch in full.
There are a few updates to Amazon’s Fire TV lineup coming soon. For starters, Fire TV in general is getting a pretty major interface update to offer a more personalized and more intuitive experience. You’ll be able to add multiple profiles to your streaming device, which lets Amazon recommend different content for different users. It also supports features like picture-in-picture mode, and a new Alexa interface that won’t necessarily take up the whole screen, depending on what you ask of it. That means you can keep watching and interact with Alexa at the same time.
There’s a new Fire TV Stick, too. The new device offers a new quad-core processor that Amazon says is 50% more powerful than the previous-generation model, and it supports 5GHz Wi-Fi networks for a better connection. Not only that, but you’ll also get Dolby Atmos support, and volume controls straight from the remote for the majority of TVs, soundbars, and receivers. The new Fire TV Stick is available for $40 and will start shipping in some countries next week.
Then there’s the new Fire TV Lite, which is even cheaper than the standard Fire TV. It supports a Full HD resolution — so you won’t get 4K video — but it still supports HDR and has a new remote, called the Alexa Voice Remote Lite. The Fire TV Stick Lite comes at $30.
Amazon-owned Ring also has a few updates. Namely, the company is getting into … drones? The new Ring Always Home Cam is essentially a security camera in a drone that flies around your home when you’re not there. That’s perfect for things like checking if the oven was left on. The device can fly a pre-determined path, and combined with Ring Alarm will fly to specific locations when an alarm sensor is triggered. The camera records only when in flight, and when it’s not in use it docks. The actual camera has a 1080p sensor. The battery life on the device is only around five minutes, but Amazon says that it’s designed to make trips of around a minute at a time.
The device comes at $250, and will be available in 2021.
The next major frontier for Ring is car security. There are three new Ring car security products, the first being the Ring Car Alarm. The Car Alarm plugs into a car’s OBD II port, which 99% of cars on the road have, and it can alert you in the event of break-ins, your car being towed, or it being bumped. The Ring Car Alarm integrates with other Ring and Alexa products, too, so when an event happens, it can send alarms through Alexa. The device connects through the new Amazon Sidewalk shared network, which is launching later this year. The Car Alarm will come at $60, and will be available in 2021.
Next up is Ring Car Cam, a security camera that monitors your car when you’re not there. The device also monitors for bumps and attempted break-ins, and connects to Wi-Fi or LTE if you get the optional connectivity plan. The Car Cam supports Alexa and can request help from first responders in the event of an accident. It also has a new Traffic Stop feature, with which users can ask the camera to record a traffic stop and send it to the cloud. The Car Cam will come at $200 starting in 2021.
Last but not least is Ring Car Connect, which supports specific cars, starting with Tesla, and allows users to see footage from their car’s built-in cameras straight from the Ring app. The service is an API rather than an actual device, so it will support only some models — though as more vehicles with cameras launch, the number supported is expected to grow.
Amazon-owned Eero was expected to launch updates to its mesh Wi-Fi routers, and it did so during Amazon’s event. The major update here is that the Eero 6 and Eero Pro 6 support the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, and they support simultaneous connectivity of up to a hefty 75 devices at once.
The Eero Pro 6 is a tri-band mesh router that has a built-in Zigbee smart hub. A single router covers a hefty 2,000 square feet, two cover 3,500 square feet, and three blanket a massive 6,000 square feet.
The standard Eero 6 is designed for homes that have connections of up to 500Mbps. Its coverage is a little smaller, at 1,500 square feet, but a two-pack can cover 3,000 square feet and a three-pack up to 5,000. It also has a Zigbee smart hub, like the Pro model.
The Eero 6 starts at $129 for a single pack, $199 for a two-pack, or $279 for a three-pack. The Eero Pro 6 starts at $229 for a single device, $399 for a two-pack, or $599 for a three-pack.
Alexa is about to get a whole lot smarter. Amazon is launching updates that help Alexa learn better, listen better, and respond better. Now, if Alexa doesn’t understand a command, it will ask for clarification — and remember your response for future commands.
Not only that, but Alexa can also now respond to commands without the user necessarily having to use the wake word all the time. One of the demos Amazon showed off included asking Alexa to “join the conversation,” after which Alexa uses machine learning to determine when it’s being talked to and the actions it needs to take. It’s a pretty impressive update, and should make naturally communicating with Alexa that little bit easier.
There are other updates, too. Alexa Guard (a bunch of advanced home security features available for free on Echo devices) will now listen for more sounds, including things like a barking dog, a crying baby, and so on. The company also announced “Guard Plus,” which can intelligently keep your home safe by doing things like playing the sound of a barking dog over the speaker when it sees someone walking outside your door. The new Guard Plus service is $4.99 per month.
Amazon is taking Alexa privacy a little more seriously as well. You can now ask Alexa to delete all recordings it has of you, and Amazon says it will proactively ask you to review your privacy settings.
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