Did you think Amazon was done trying to take over your home?
Of course not.
Today, Amazon held an event at their Seattle headquarters where they announced several new hardware devices to further integrate into your home.
We’ll start with a quick list of all the devices, and then dive into what they do.
- Redesigned Echo Dot
- Updated Echo Plus
- Echo Sub(woofer)
- Redesigned Echo Show
- Echo Link
- Echo Link Amp
- Echo Input
- Amazon Smart Plug
- Echo Wall Clock
- Echo Auto
- FireTV Recast
- Ring Stickup Cam
- Alexa enabled Microwave
- Alexa Guard (software feature)
- Alexa Hunches (software feature)
Echo Dot And Echo Plus
The Echo Dot is one of those devices that everyone and their mother (literally) has at this point. It’s the perfect easy gift to give, with great usability and a plethora of functions, you can see why.
The redesigned 3rd generation Echo Dot is different in only a few ways; it has an all new fabric design (much like the Google Home Mini), making it blend in with your home decor, rather than it be an obvious piece of tech.
It also has a bigger emphasis on sound and music, so it’s 70% louder than before. They’ve also reduced the microphone array from seven to four. I don’t foresee this making any impactful difference to the end user.
The Echo Plus is physically quite similar to the existing model. Like the new Dot, they’ve focused on sound quality, by giving it more powerful bass and clearer sound. This will be a welcome upgrade for everyone.
They’ve also added a temperature sensor within, so Alexa can now tell you the temperature in the room it’s in. This can be nice for tying it into a home automation where Alexa will automatically turn on the AC or a fan when a certain temperature is reached.
The prices for both the Echo Dot and the Echo Plus remain the same, at $49.99 and $149.99 respectively. Preorders start today.
The Echo Show was never a particularly popular device, I think mainly due to the high price, and somewhat ugly form factor; but considering we are still in the infancy of Smart Home devices, it’s a good first step.
Amazon today unveiled the second step in that product line, which is the 2nd generation Echo Show.
It has a larger 10″ display, and has been redesigned to just be a standing screen. It no longer has it’s speaker array underneath the screen, those have been moved to the sides, and is wrapped in fabric, like it’s siblings, making it a much more handsome device.
They’ve also added plenty on the software side of things by adding Skype calls, and integrating their own Silk browser, as well as Firefox.
Amazon has introduced “Alexa Presentation Language” which is a new set of developer tools and language aimed at making UI/UX that can scale on all their devices with screens, from the Echo Show to the Fire TV.
The new Echo Show will cost the same as the outgoing Echo Show at $229.99, and will start shipping next month.
Amazon Echo Sub / Link / Link Amp
Next up Amazon seems to be attacking Sonos; with the new Echo Sub, Echo Link and Link Amp.
Much like the aforementioned Echo Plus, the Echo Sub is a fabric wrapped plump cylinder. It has a six-inch woofer firing downwards, and puts out 100W.
It can be paired with other Echo devices to create either a 1.1 or 2.1 surround sound setup. I personally don’t know anyone that has two Echo devices in the same room.
The Echo Link is designed to connect to your existing receiver or amplifier, while the Link Amp has a built in 60W dual-channel amplifier that links to your Echo to play music on your stereo.
They support both Ethernet and coaxial cables, but neither has a microphone, so they’re both designed to connect to existing Echo devices.
The Echo Link will $199.99 when it becomes available later this year, while the Echo Link Amp will be $299.99 when it launches early next year.
The Echo Input
The Echo Input is essentially Amazon’s version of the Chromecast Audio. This $34.99 device plugs directly into any speaker to make it a “smart speaker”. It’s basically an Echo Dot but without a speaker, relying on external output.
It will launch later this year in the US, UK, and Germany, and will be bundled with certain third-party speakers, including Bose, giving your smart speaker functionality from the get-go.
Amazon Smart Plug
The Amazon Smart Plug is literally just a smart plug made by Amazon. It’s $25 just like most other smart plugs. It has the disadvantage of only being compatible with Alexa, but it also has the advantage of being made by Amazon, and with that it should be incredibly easy to set up to work with your Echo Devices.
It ships next month, though I imagine this will be bundled with the new Echo Dot around the Holidays. (Similar to how the TP-Link smart plug was bundled with the Echo Dot last year).
Echo Wall Clock
The Echo Wall Clock is for the Chef’s of the house. It’s a clock specifically designed to show off the timers you’ve made using your Echo.
It has a ring of LEDs around the edge of the clock to show your active timers. Once you start a timer, it will have an LED indicator showing when the timer will end. Set a second timer, and it will add another LED to show the same for that timer too. Additionally, it can automatically change the time depending the daylight savings season.
It has a microphone built in, though it seems unclear whether or not this will require an Alexa device to connect to.
Alexa is now also in your car. The Echo Auto is a portable device that plugs into your phone and takes over your cars speakers. It has 8 microphones that Amazon says can hear your voice clearly over road noise and music. It does all the regular Alexa commands – such as setting a pizza timer – but when you ask for directions, it will send you to your preferred navigation app on your phone.
Currently the Echo Auto is invite only at $24.99, however once it becomes available to everyone, it will go up to $49.99
Fire TV Recast
Amazon also updated its Fire TV lineup with the new Fire TV Recast. It’s a DVR streaming box with antennae, so it can also pick up OTA channels (such as ABS, CBS, FOX, NBC). You can watch, record, or replay free OTA TV, without having to pay for their live TV service (I’m looking at you CBS).
Initially it will only be available as a two-tuner model that lets you record 2 shows at once and has a 500GB hard drive for $229.99. Later on Amazon will release a 4 tuner model with 1TB of storage.
Ring Stick Up Cam
About a year ago Amazon bought Security camera company Ring for about $1 billion. Today they announced a new camera for $179.99 called the Ring Stick Up Cam. It’s an indoor/outdoor camera that you can sick to the wall, and comes in both wired and wireless versions.
It will be available in both black and white, and will be available for purchase later this year.
Amazon has made it’s first actual kitchen appliance. A microwave. It will be sold under the AmazonBasics brand, and is powered by Alexa Connect Kit, which is a inexpensive Bluetooth Low Energy and WiFi module that can make standard home appliances “smart”.
It contains an Alexa button which allows you to use your voice to set the time and function. I actually welcome this sort of functionality, especially since microwave functions are always 3 menu layers deep and you never quite know if you’re using the right one.
The Amazon Basics Alexa microwave is set to ship later this year for $59.99, and even includes a Dash button for popcorn. Expect more Alexa powered appliances down the line.
Alexa Hunches and Alexa Guard
Lastly are two Amazon products but on the software side of things.
Alexa Hunches are going to be Alexa’s attempts at learning your schedule and habits, and will interject when it think’s you might have forgotten something.
For example I’ve left my kitchen island LED strip on all night by accident many times, Alexa would figure out out that this was probably a mistake and will ask “Hey, it looks like you left the LED strip on, would you like me to turn it off?”.
In my mind, this is truly what a Smart Home is supposed to be, and is the distinct difference between a Smart Home and a connected home.
The second part of Alexa’s new smart home features is called “Alexa Guard”, which is your Alexa devices turning into a defacto security system.
Since your Echo’s microphones are always on, listening for their trigger word, they can now also listen for distinct sounds like broken glass, or for a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm going off.
If you’re out of the house, it will send you a notification about what’s going on, and if you have a dedicated security system (such as ADT), it can directly notify the alarm company.
At first, it will need to be manually enabled when you leave the house; though I’m sure that coupled with the Alexa Hunches, eventually it figure out if you wanted to activate it or not by asking you when you leave the house.
Additionally, if you have smart lights in your house, it can mimic your activity with lights, to make it appear from the outside that you’re home. This is one of the best reasons to have smart lights, especially if you’re likely to leave your home for long periods at a time.
So there we have it, Amazon announced a lot of stuff today, and they seem very poised to be connected to everything they can.
I’m certainly excited to try out the new Alexa Guard and Hunches features, since they move the “Smart Home” needle the most, in my opinion.
Let me know what you guys think of everything announced today in the comments below!