Amazon held their annual hardware announcement event in Seattle today announcing a slew of products, that in stark contrast to last year’s miss-mash of crap, are generally well thought out and things people might actually want!
Echo Dot 2019
The new Echo Dot may look familiar but it has a hidden secret behind its woven material exterior. Hidden beneath it you’ll now find a small LED display that is used to display the time, temperature and alarms. The top of the Dot can also be used as a snooze button should you being using your Echo Dot as an alarm clock, which is kind of neat too.
The new Echo Dot for 2019 is priced at US$60 (~A$89) and available to order immediately.
The Studio is Amazon’s attempt to compete in the high-end smart speaker market. Pitting itself directly against Apple’s HomePod and Sonos’ suite of voice assistant enabled speakers.
The Studio has 3 mid-range speakers and a 5.25″ sub for bass. It supports Dolby Atmos and is easily connected to Amazon’s Fire 4K TV devices. Similarly to Sonos’ TrueTone tuning the Studio will map out the room it’s placed in and adapt its sound accordingly. It does this dynamically and will remap the room whenever it notices a change in its environment.
The Echo Studio has an RPP of US$200 (~A$295), which has it sit above some Sonos speakers but below Apple’s HomePod.
Designed for children the Echo Glow is a smart lamp that resembles a sort of glowing sphere that can change colours and flicker like a campfire. It can be turned on or off and have its mode changed via Alexa (of course) as well as act as a timer.
One of the cheaper products announced today it’s also unlikely to be sold outside of the 110V market.
The first of Amazon’s “invite only” products is the new Echo Loop. Available to persons whom Amazon deem worth of inviting to buy it the Echo Loop is a smart ring that brings Alexa to your finger tips.
The Loop has two microphones that can be activated by pressing a small button on it. The ring, which is paired to a phone, then sends your request to Alexa and delivers its results. The Loop also has a small vibration mechanism that goes off when you receive new notifications as well as letting you know when the device has been activated to listen to you.
If you’re lucky enough to be invited to buy one, it’s going to set you back US$100.
Amazon’s Alexa enabled glasses are the second “invite-only” product. Similar to the Echo Loop the new Echo Frames bring Alexa to another body part (or group of parts being your face).
Inside each arm are a set of microphones and speakers that capture your request when prompted to and then direct Alexa’s response back down towards your ears.
Think of the Frames as AR glasses without the advantages of AR. Doesn’t leave much does it? They’re US$179 but again you’ll need to be “asked” to buy them by Amazon.
Amazon Smart Oven
OK, so they did a microwave again. It’s an “oven” this time but one of those small convection oven microwaves.
There’s nothing exciting here, I just had to highlight they’re still trying to do it.
New Ring Cameras
I’ve not used the Ring security cameras but by all reports they’re cheap and reliable. Amazon announced a new “sticky” version that you can basically stick anywhere. Surprise, surprise.
The sticky version can be run off a battery or wired, allowing it to be placed in almost any location (indoors or out) and features 1080p HD video, motion detection and night vision.
The new Sticky Ring cam is US$100 (~A$149) and a new updated indoor only version is US$60 (~A$89).
Where else can we put Alexa? How about directly into our ears!?
The new Echo Buds are Amazon’s entry in to the wireless earbud market, dominated by Apple’s AirPods and closely followed up by Samsung’s Galaxy Buds.
Amazon have included Bose’s Active Noise Reduction tech and aren’t locking them down to just Alexa, apparently compatible with any voice service you have on their linked phone.
The buds have a reported 5 hours of continuous battery life with up to 20 hours with their case at cost just US$130.
Believe it or not that wasn’t all of it either. Amazon spoke to their new celebrity voices (Samuel L Jackson is coming) along with the ability to adapt the celebrity voices with Natural Text to Speech (NTT) tech.
They also announced a new version of their acquired mesh networking system Eero, a new 8″ Echo Show, an updated standard Echo and the ability to have your voice recordings automatically deleted after 3 or 8 months.