In what apparently is becoming an annual thing, today Amazon held a closed “surprise” press event at the Spheres in Seattle to reveal a slew of new devices and services. While a few of these announcements won’t actually see release until next year, the vast majority will hit before the end of 2018.
Some of the biggest reveals include a refreshed Echo Dot, a refreshed Echo Plus, a refreshed Echo Show, new audio devices and more. The company even revealed an Alexa-powered microwave. Let’s jump right in and take a look!
Echo Show 2nd gen
With Google pushing hard into smart displays, a new Amazon Echo Show announcement was pretty inevitable.
The refreshed Echo Show now includes a larger 10-inch HD display, an eight-microphone array, a built-in Smart Home Hub and a new fabric-based rear cover. Amazon also ripped out the front-facing speakers for two, side-firing
two-inch neodymium drivers, a passive bass radiator and Dobly audio processing. New apps are available too including Skype, Firefox and the Silk browser. Ask the Echo Show to provide you with something “interesting” and it will load random live webcams located across the globe.
The new Echo Show is up for pre-order now for $230 and will arrive October 11th.
Refreshed Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
First up is the 3rd generation Echo Dot. So what’s new here? For starters, the updated Echo Dot is 70 percent louder than the previous generation. That’s due to an upgrade to the driver, moving from a 1.1mm driver to a 1.6mm model. According to Amazon, this upgrade produces enhanced bass and lower distortion compared to the previous generation. The speaker is also driven by additional power to get that higher volume. Completing this package is your typical Bluetooth connectivity and a new fabric-based exterior.
The new Echo Dot is up for pre-order now at a price of $50. Expect it to ship this October.
This is Amazon’s first Echo-branded device without a speaker. It essentially adds Alexa to any speaker you currently own, connecting via a 3.5mm audio cable or Bluetooth. The device measures a mere 12.5mm tall and includes a four-microphone array so you can command Alexa from across the room. It will be included with Bose speakers later this year as well.
The Echo Input will arrive sometime in late 2018, though you can pre-order now for just $35.
The Echo Sub is a stand-alone 100-watt subwoofer sporting a 6-inch downward-facing woofer. It connects via 2.1 or 1.1 pairing with Echo and Echo Plus devices, adding a nice bass to your favorite music and video. While it’s not exactly cheap at $130, this could be a perfect accessory for those looking to take their Echo’s sound to the next level.
The Echo Sub can be pre-ordered now and will ship this October.
This box-shaped device connects to your current receiver or amplifier through digital or analog inputs and outputs. It doesn’t include a microphone, but you can control the volume and music selection via the dial mounted on the front, or through your Echo device or the Alexa app. The Echo Link includes an Ethernet port too.
The Echo Link will arrive later this year, but it’s not up for pre-order just yet. When it does become available it will set you back $200.
Echo Link Amp
At first glance, you might think you’re looking at another picture of the Echo Link, but nope. The Echo Link Amp is much larger than the Echo Link, due to the built-in 60-watt dual-channel amplifier. It also doesn’t include a microphone, requiring you to control music playback via the front-mounted dial, your Echo devices or the Alexa app. It includes multiple digital and analog inputs and outputs along with Ethernet connectivity.
The Echo Link Amp will cost you $300, though you won’t be able to get it until sometime in “early 2019”.
Echo Plus 2nd gen
The original Amazon Echo Plus looked a bit like someone just stuffed new parts in an original Echo’s shell and called it a day. But no longer! The new model has a fabric design that’s more in linek with newer Echo devices.
This refreshed model includes a built-in Smart Hub so you can set up other smart devices by saying, “Alexa, discover my devices.” Even more, it provides local voice control, meaning you can control smart devices even when the internet is unavailable. If that’s not enough, Amazon threw in a built-in temperature sensor. Just ask Alexa to check the inside temperature via the sensor or check the temperature using a compatible smart thermostat. It will be available in Heather Gray, Charcoal and Sandstone colors.
The Amazon Echo Plus can be pre-ordered today for $150, with a set release date of October 11th.
Fire TV Recast
The Fire TV family is now getting into the DVR space, with a stand-alone “companion” DVR device. The Fire TV Recast lets you record free, over-the-air TV programming that can be streamed to Apple and Android devices, Fire TV, Echo Show, and Amazon’s Fire-branded tablets. You can record up to four shows simultaneously and stream the media to any two compatible devices at the same time, depending on the version you buy. One model merely offers two tuners with 500GB of storage while the pricier model includes four tuners with 1TB of storage. You’ll need to supply your own HDTV antenna.
You can pre-order the Fire TV Recast now and it will ship November 14th. There are two models, the 500 GB version for $230 and the 1TB version for $280.
Amazon Smart Plug
There are plenty of smart plugs already, but that’s not stopping Amazon from getting in the game with the Amazon Smart Plug.
This device plugs into your wall outlet and connects to Echo devices via Bluetooth. Essentially, you can control connected appliances and lights using Alexa via an Echo speaker or the Alexa app. It’s also the first device to ship with Wi-Fi Simple Setup, a new service provided by Amazon that will share your wireless credentials with other compatible devices so you’re not manually connecting each one during the setup process. TP-Link and Eero now support this service as well.
You can get Amazon’s Smart Plug for $25. Pre-orders start today but it won’t release until October 11th.
A smart microwave? Yep, those in fact exist. And now Amazon has one.
This new microwave from AmazonBasics can connect to your Echo devices via Bluetooth. It includes a built-in Ask Alexa button, enabling you to press the button and provide a cooking command, such as telling the device to cook a potato without specifying a duration. You can verbally add time to that command or tell the microwave to stop cooking. The AmazonBasics added support for the Dash Replenishment service too so you can reorder food when your supplies run low.
The good news is getting Alexa-powered smarts doesn’t mean this microwave will cost a fortune. You can pre-order it now for $60 and it will arrive on November 14th.
Echo Wall Clock
Amazon is introducing a.. wall clock. Thankfully it can do at least a little more than just tell us the time by looking at it. Amazon’s new clock connects to Echo devices via Bluetooth. It automatically updates when DayLight Savings changes and includes LEDs mounted around the rim that visually keeps track of your timers.
This is hardly a revolutionary product, but at $30 it’s not ultra-expensive at least. The clock will arrive sometime later this year.
Ring Stick Up Cam
Amazon serves up this refreshed cam in battery-powered and wired versions, the latter of which includes an Ethernet port. It works indoors and outdoors and ships in black and white colors. It’s compatible with Ring Alarm, the security system stemming from Amazon’s acquisition of doorbell startup company Ring. The updated cam arrives alongside new support for Z-Wave-based locks manufactured by Schlage, Yale, Kwikset, and Danalock.
The all-new Ring Stick Up Cam will cost $180 and is set to arrive on October 18th. You can pre-order it now from the link below.
A little icing on the cake
While the hardware announcements were obviously the most exciting, Amazon also unveiled plenty of new services. Below are some of the biggest software features heading to the Alexa family:
- Alexa will learn your day-to-day interactions with smart devices and will adjust them accordingly if they’re not in your preferred state, such as a light not turned on at the appropriate time.
- This service ties into your smart home devices to send you alerts when you’re not home. It will also turn on lights to help deter potential thieves if needed. It works with security systems provided by ADT and Ring.
- This essentially allows you to whisper to Alexa so you’re not shouting “How’s the weather” and waking up your spouse and/or kids.
Routines for Kids
- Parents can use Alexa to set Routines based on pre-configured samples. For example, saying, “Alexa, good night” will provide a parent-customized message telling kids to turn off the light and provide sleep-inductive sounds.
You can find a full list of new general “smart” services and features here spanning security, convenience, entertainment, and kids.
As you can see, Amazon is working hard to maintain its dominant position in the realm of smart assistants. What do you think of the latest announcements — excited about any in particular? Let us know in the comments.