Everyone’s favorite trillion-dollar retailer hosted a private event today where they continued to exercise their highly strategic approach to hardware, which has them throwing everything at the wall and waiting to see what sticks.
We got some new Amazon Echo devices, sure, but there was also an amp, a camera, a clock and a microwave…? There’s a lot to take a look at, including some product refreshes and entirely new verticals, so let’s get to it.
Here are the new devices we heard about today from Amazon.
A new, louder Echo Dot
For a lot of people, the cheap and tinny Echo Dot was their first interaction with a home assistant. The frequently discounted $50 device is getting an updated look and a 75 percent more powerful speaker so that it can keep the tunes bumping.
An Echo for your car
If you’re thinking about places where you actually need hands-free voice controls, your car is probably one of the only places. Amazon wants to get Alexa into your ride and it’s doing so with Echo Auto, a $50 dashboard accessory that you can ask to pick tunes, call people or shut off some appliance you accidentally left on.
The booming Echo Sub
The Echo Sub may look like a giant HomePod, but it’s all about that bass. You can pair the giant speaker with an Echo or two to build out a more robust sound system. It’s $130, so the company is seriously undercutting competitors like Sonos with its sound system ambitions; it’s unclear, for now, how the audio stacks up though. We’ll have to take a closer listen.
The live-recording Fire TV Recast
One of Amazon’s big ambitions has not only been to get its devices into your home but to take over your TV. It’s a great piece of gadget real estate to have especially when the company is looking to push Prime Video. The company’s ambitions with the $230 Fire TV Recast are focused on live-recording TV and beaming that video to other devices you have. It connects to a digital antenna and can be placed anywhere in your house, then the DVR recordings can be streamed to your Fire TV, Echo Show, Echo Spot or iOS/Android devices.
A slicker Echo Show
If any of Amazon’s Echo devices were in need of a design refresh this was it. The Echo Show was the first of its kind, but with Smart Display devices from Google starting to emerge and Facebook still hard at work on their own device, it’s clear that the company needed to up their game. The $229 device now has a 10-inch screen and works with Skype, so you won’t have to voice call from the Alexa app.
A new Ring security camera
Amazon bought Ring earlier this year and at its hardware event, it introduced a new device called the Stick Up Camera that is meant to be an indoor or outdoor security camera. The camera comes in wired and battery-operated versions and goes for $180.
The speaker-less Echo Input
One of the best features of the Echo Dot was that you could output audio to an existing speaker system. Amazon showed off a new device today that does just that. The $35 device is going to be something you might see pop up in third-party speaker bundles, the company says.
A wildly unnecessary Alexa microwave
One of the more outlandish product releases of the day was an Amazon Basics microwave with Alexa controls and Dash button functionality so you can order more popcorn. It doesn’t have voice controls built-in but it will communicate with a nearby Echo so you can ask it to add a minute to cooking something if that’s really how you want to do it. Thankfully, it’s just $60, so it’s a cheap dystopia at least.
An updated Echo Plus
Like the new Echo Dot, the Echo Plus is getting a fabric redesign. The $150 pro Echo still has its smart hub and one of the new features that will enable is offline commands, so if your Wi-Fi goes out you’ll still be able to turn off your lights before bed. The new Echo Plus will also ship with an integrated temperature sensor so you can ask it for the temp inside or build a routine where it, say, turns on the fan when it gets too hot inside.
An Alexa Clock that visualizes your timers
This was another sort of weird one. The $30 Wall Clock pairs with your Alexa devices and visualizes any alarms or timers you have set up with its ring of 60 LEDs. It’s a cheap device and it’s nice to be able to visualize things that you’d otherwise have to ask Alexa for updates on, but it still feels like a bit of an odd release.
The very pluggable Echo Smart Plug
Every smart home company has a smart plug, why doesn’t Amazon? They thought that too and now they have one! It’s $25, which is pretty standard, and can turn things on and off.
The Echo Link and Link Amp
This one was a bit surprising and showcases that Amazon is pretty serious about taking over your sound system. The $200 Echo Link connects to your receiver or amplifier and adds a bunch of inputs so you can connect speakers to it while the $300 Echo Link Amp also features a built-in 60W 2-channel amplifier to improve sound quality.
Updates to Alexa
It wasn’t all hardware announcements at the event, though to be honest it was mostly hardware announcements at the event. We also heard about some new updates coming to Alexa, including Hunches, a system where Alexa will learn about certain smart home habits and offer occasional suggestions if it gets the feeling you forgot to do something like turn off an outdoor porch light before you go to bed. Another Alexa feature is Guard mode, which can be set when users are away and will listen for more than just its name, including noises like glass breaking.
That’s a wrap. Damn, that’s a lot of devices. Check back as we’ll be taking some of these gadget for a spin with some hands-on time — with about 13 new pieces of hardware being released in rapid-fire succession, we might need a few extra hands.
Check out our full coverage from the event here.