The leaves are starting to turn color, and you know what that means: Amazon’s annual fall Devices and Services event is upon us, bringing with it a veritable smorgasbord of product announcements, from new Fire TV streaming gadgets and Echo devices to Amazon smart home gear like Blink and Ring cameras, as well as Eero Wi-Fi routers and Alexa galore.
Taking place Wednesday, September 20, from Amazon’s shiny new HQ2 second headquarters in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, the invite-only event was heavy on themes of generative AI and its use in the home, specifically how it relates to its own products. Dave Limp, Amazon’s outgoing senior vice president of devices and services, delivered his last keynote, spilling the details on Alexa’s most significant AI upgrade yet. Limp revealed its all-new advanced large language model (LLM), which will make the smart assistant more intuitive, conversational, and able to understand more complex nomenclature and nuances. And it’s all integrated with Amazon’s Alexa devices throughout your smart home.
Amazon says that most of the new products announced today will be available in the coming weeks and months. We were on the ground at HQ2 for the event, and here’s a roundup of everything Amazon announced.
Echo Show 8
Starting with the new Echo Show 8, the Alexa-driven smart display boasts improved video calling and sound. It also now has custom-built spatial audio and room adaptation tech that uses room-sensing mics that listen to the acoustics of the room and adjust the playback to suit. A new Adaptive Content feature changes the home screen based on how close or far you are from the screen. As you approach and move away from it, the content changes size, making it easy to read based on your distance and offering different information features. Among the loads of upgrades that have been made to Alexa (more on this later), Alexa’s response time is also 40% faster and the conversation is much more natural. The Echo Show 8 will retail for $150. Preorders open today and devices will start shipping next month.
Echo Pop Kids
Amazon also announced a new Echo speaker for kids, dubbed the Echo Pop Kids, and it’s the company’s smallest speaker yet. Using Alexa’s new LLM AI, the Echo Pop Kids promises to be fun for kids to talk to and ask questions. The cute speaker offers fun audiobooks, kid-friendly themes, and more, and will cost $50.
For the bespectacled among us, Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo Frames smart glasses have gotten an update, too, with a smart new look and five new designs, including sunglasses, prescription-ready, or blue light lens options (with two designs from a partnership with eyewear makers Carrera). They also boast improved sound to their open-ear design that makes it easy to hear the world around you, especially in noisy environments. Speech processing tech is also improved, making it easier for Alexa to hear you, especially when it’s noisy or windy outside. Battery life has also improved. The new Echo Frames will cost $270.
Oh, and one more thing (wait, wrong company): Amazon also revamped and improved its wall-mounted smart home panel, the Echo Hub (check out our hands-on with it from the event). The eight-inch touchscreen panel allows you to control all your smart home devices, security systems, and more from one location. The new Hub also features the Adaptive Content feature that uses infrared tech to detect when someone enters the room and then adjusts what’s on-screen to suit them by bringing up your customized panel with the widgets and features they use. The Hub supports Zigbee, Sidewalk, Thread, Bluetooth, and Matter, and is compatible with more than 140,000 connected cameras, lights, locks, plugs, thermostats, speakers, and more. Available later this year, it will retail for $180.
Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Fans of Amazon’s stalwart streaming devices will be happy to hear that the company has finally dropped a couple of new-and-improved Fire TV Sticks and a cool new Fire TV soundbar to their lineup. First up is a new version of the Fire TV Stick 4K ($50), which Amazon says has gotten an improved processor — a 2GHz quad-core with 30% more power that will help apps perform better — as well as Wi-Fi 6 support for faster and more stable 4K streaming and support for Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+.
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max ($60) does all that and adds Dolby Atmos sound. It’s also getting Amazon’s Fire TV Ambient Experience, which has previously been available on its Omni QLED TVs and uses sensors to detect when people are in the room or not, triggering an experience that includes TV display art and other Alexa-powered widgets and custom information.
Fire TV Soundbar
Perhaps the most fun of the Fire TV announcements was the addition of the new Fire TV Soundbar, a $120, Bluetooth-capable soundbar meant to work seamlessly with other Fire TV products and Fire TV-branded TVs. With two-channel sound and support for DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Audio, the 24-inch long soundbar is compact, easy to set up, and should deliver sound that is surely better than what your TV can produce.
Amazon’s common thread of its fall devices event also weaves through the Fire TV lineup, with its new LLM Alexa model making search and recommendations more intuitive and conversational. Using the remote, you can ask Alexa to find some movies, even drilling down to free ones and ones you haven’t seen. The response in the demo was lightning fast as it offered up suggestions.
Lastly, if you purchase a new Fire TV player or TV, Amazon is offering a promotion for U.S. customers that provices a free six-month subscription to MGM+. All of the new Fire TV devices are available now.
Amazon added a handful of new-and-improved devices to its Blink and Ring smart home security camera lineup. The Blink Outdoor 4 Floodlight Camera is a wall-mounted outdoor camera that delivers high-definition video whether it’s night or day. With two motion-triggered bright LED floodlights on each side of the camera, whatever gets caught in its gaze will surely be well-lit. Like many Blink outdoor cameras, the Outdoor 4 Floodlight Camera is battery-powered, but Amazon announced that for an additional $30, you can add a battery expansion pack. Preorders are already open for the Outdoor 4 Floodlight Camera, which will cost $160. Blink also announced a new Sync Module Pro, the hub to which all your Blink cameras and doorbells are connected. With stronger Wi-Fi for better and more reliable connectivity, the new module is also available to preorder now. It will cost $50, and we’ll see it early next year.
From Ring, Amazon announced the Stick Up Cam Pro, an indoor and outdoor camera that Ring has added 3D motion detection radar sensors to so it can measure the distance of objects that come into its view. What users will be able to do with this is further customize the areas in the camera’s view that trigger motion detection in case you want to more closely monitor a specific spot. Of course, you can also still set the zones you do not want to be monitored. Some new audio tricks have also been added, including “Audio Plus,” a two-array microphone for better sound, and a security siren you can use to scare the hell out would-be intruders or porch pirates. The Ring Stick Up Cam Pro is also available for preorder and will be available in a battery/plug-in option ($180) and a solar-powered version ($210).
Two new Amazon Fire Kids tablets were announced at the fall devices event — the Fire HD Kids 10 and the Fire HD Kids 10 Pro. The former is aimed at kids from 3 to 7 years old and the latter targets kids a bit older, from six to 12. Both tablets have gotten some processor upgrades under the hood that Amazon says make them 25% faster. Both sport 10.1-inch 1080p displays, as well as 3GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel camera, and a battery that can last up to 13 hours. Both tablets have benefitted from Alexa’s new generative AI as well, with several new experiences integrated into a range of apps and activities that kids can participate in. The Music Maker app, for example, uses AI to help kids compose songs. The new Fire HD Kids tablets come with a 12-month subscription to Amazon’s Kids+ for free, so they can check out all the fun.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids and HD 10 Kids Pro will start shipping next month, with prices starting from $190.
Amazon’s first stab at a Wi-Fi mesh system is fast, powerful, and expensive. The Amazon Eero Max 7 is, according to Amazon, the “fastest, most powerful Eero yet,” and it should be for the $600 it’s going to cost for a single gateway (one-pack). A two-pack costs $1,150 and a three-pack runs $1,700. The Wi-Fi 7 system uses Amazon’s TrueMesh networking tech for faster performance, better protection from interfering networks, wireless speeds of up to 4.3Gbps, and wired speeds of up to 9.4Gbps. The Eero Max 7 is a tri-band mesh system that supports the 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz radio bands, and Amazon says that a single gateway can cover 2,500 square feet, with a three-pack covering up to 7,500 square feet. The Eero Max supports the Matter smart home standard and can connect to up to 200 devices. The new mesh Wi-Fi system will be available later this year, Amazon said.
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