The 5 biggest announcements from today’s Amazon hardware event
Amazon surprised everyone today with a press event that unveiled a bunch of new Echo hardware. The Echo speaker, originally launched in 2014, was overdue for an update after the company spun off devices with a camera and a touchscreen. Today’s event also introduced a refreshed Fire TV, just days after Apple launched its updated Apple TV with 4K support.
If you missed any of it, we have the biggest announcements right here.
NEW ECHO SPOT
The most interesting announcement by far is the new Echo Spot, a smart alarm clock that can make video calls and be connected to external speakers via cable or Bluetooth. This new device seems to be a crossover between the Echo Dot and Echo Show, with a tiny 2.5-inch screen and a more curved edge. You can make video calls or it can double as a nursery camera.
The Spot is going on sale in December 19th and costs $130. Preorders are live today.
As part of the original Echo refresh, Amazon announced the Echo Plus. It’s the same size as the original, but it will now act as a smart home hub, with second-generation far-field voice recognition and enhanced sound. It also uses Zigbee as a low-power way to extend its wireless range. The Echo Plus is priced at $149, and it’s compatible with over 100 smart home devices that you can set up via voice, without any apps. The Plus comes with a Philips Hue smart light bulb in every box; it’s available in black, white, and silver. The Echo Plus is available for preorder today and comes out on October 31st.
Alexa can now add multiple events to a routine that you activate with one command. For instance, saying, “Alexa, good morning” can turn on the lights, open a smart window shade, get the weather, or command a teakettle to boil water in one fluid motion.
There is also a new and smaller version of the Amazon Echo that is going on sale today for $99 that’s about half the size of the original Echo. Amazon is also selling three-packs of Echos for the first time, offering multi-room audio for $249. They come in a ton of new finishes, such as cloth and wood, to match more living spaces. The second generation Echo comes out on October 31st.
Additionally, there’s a new $35 Echo Connect device that you can use to make landline calls with Alexa. Your phone number will still be tied to calls so receivers can identify you.
Lastly, there is a smaller product called Echo Buttons that will join the Echo family. Priced at $20 for a two-pack, Echo Buttons are hockey puck-shaped devices that you can use to play games alongside an Alexa-enabled device. It’s like having a TV-style trivia game in your house.
ALEXA IS GETTING INTO BMWS
Alexa is getting integrated into BMWs and select Mini vehicles beginning in 2018. The integration will use far-field microphones embedded inside the car and Alexa content will be visually shown on the head unit as well. Previously, Amazon and BMW partnered up for an Alexa Skill, but this will be the first time the two will work to put the voice assistant directly into the vehicles.
NEW FIRE TV
Amazon Fire TV has had 4K support for a while, but a new device will now support 4K HDRvideo with 2160p resolution at 60 frames per second. It has Dolby Atmos integration and an Alexa voice remote. It costs $69.99; that makes it priced far lower than the rival Apple TV 4K, which starts at $179. The Fire TV is available for preorder now and will come out on October 25th.
Amazon is also selling bundles of a Fire TV stick and Echo Dot for $60, and an Echo Dot and Fire TV bundle for $80.