Amazon’s Echo Products Get a Facelift and Some Nifty Upgrades

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Like all other tech companies, Amazon puts together a huge event in the fall to show off its latest Amazon Echo products. On September 24, the company showed off updates to its Echo family, as well as some very interesting (and controversial) new products. Here’s a look at everything the company announced.

Amazon Echo Speaker

The classic Echo smart speakers have got an impressive update. Amazon has updated the design to a fresh new orb-like look. That’s because the company decided to pack in some new speakers. The 4th Gen Echo now has a  3-inch neodymium woofer and includes two 0.8-inch tweeters. It is also powered by an AZ1 neural edge processor, for faster speech recognition and power efficiency.

Other updates include moving the light ring to the bottom of the device and Dolby audio processing. This generation is also the first to come with support for Zigbee and Bluetooth Low Energy. There’s also a dedicated mute button if you don’t want your Echo spying on your conversations. 

The 4th Gen Echo has a new spherical shape. Source: Amazon

The Echo Dot with Clock is exactly the same, but with an LED display on the front to tell you the time, weather, timers and alarms. The 4th Gen Echo Dot also gets a spherical update. Despite being a miniature Echo, it still packs 3 drivers for sound. If you use the alarm function on your Echo Dot, you can now tap to snooze.

That’s not all though. Amazon has also added an LED Clock version to the Echo Dot. There’s also a Kids Edition variant with tiger and panda skins. Talk about choice! The Echo will start at £89.99, the Echo Dot st £49.99 and the Echo Dot with Clock at £59.99 and are all available for pre-order now. 

The new Echo Dot Kids Edition gets a friendlier look. Source: Amazon

Amazon Echo Show

Inspired by Apple’s HomePod, the Echo Show is a cylindrical speaker with a display. It does kind of look like the iMac G4. That imitation though, has a purpose. Amazon has managed to add 2.1 channel audio. It also allows the screen to rotate and follow you as you move around the room. If that sounds creepy, you can disable it. It also helps the device serve in “Sentry Mode”, i.e. as a security camera. The 10” screen also features a 13MP camera. 

The Echo Show will set you back £239.99 when it launches. We don’t have an exact date yet, but Amazon promises that it will be available before the end of the year. 

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The new Echo Show resembles Apple’s famous iMac G4. Source: Amazon

Ring Car Cam and Car Alarm

Ring’s home security smarts are now coming to your car. The Ring Car Alarm is a small device that plugs into your car’s OBD-II port. That gives you an additional couple of sensors and alarms. Ring will also connect to Amazon’s Sidewalk to help you locate your car. It will launch in early 2021 in the US for now at $59.99. There’s no word on when it will be available in the UK yet. 

If you want a more sophisticated system, the Car Cam offers recording, a siren and emergency crash assistance. It will cost $199.99 when it launches in 2021, again only in the US. 

If you already have a car with built-in cameras, Ring Car Connect is an API that allows you to see the cameras using the Ring app. Right now, it is compatible with Tesla’s Model S, 3, X and Y. Amazon will be pushing it out to all other manufacturers. Like Car Cam, it will cost $199.99 when it launches in 2021. 

Ring Car Connect is a safe and easy way to secure your car. Source: Ring

Other Hardware Announcements

  • Eero Routers: Amazon’s Eero 6 and Eero 6 Pro Wi-Fi mesh routers are now compatible with Wi-Fi 6 and Zigbee. Otherwise, there are no major updates to the routers. There’s no word on an international roll-out just yet, if you want these routers you will get them only in the US for $129.99 (Eero 6) and $229.99 (Eero 6 Pro).
  • FireTV Stick: The new Stick comes with Dolby Atmos.  Apart from that, there are no other major upgrades. The FireTV Stick with Alexa voice remote will retail for £39.99 and a FireTV Stick Lite will be available without the fancy buttons for £29.99.
  • Ring Always Home Cam: This new mini-drone from Ring is designed to patrol your house while you are away. To avoid any unwanted recording, the dock is designed so as to block the camera. There’s no word on the specs just yet, but we do know it will come with sound and motion sensors. It will cost $249 when it goes on sale next year, there’s no word of the UK launch though.
Your personal mini-drone for home security – Ring Always Home Cam. Source: Ring

Amazon Luna

The star of the show was without doubt Amazon’s new cloud game streaming service. A direct competitor to Google Stadia, Luna will allow subscribers to play on PC, Mac, smartphones, tablets and FireTV devices. Like Xbox Game Pass, subscribers will get access to a library of titles. 

At launch, Resident Evil 7 Control, A Plague Tale: Innocence, and Yooka-Laylee, and The Impossible Lair will be available to play. Users will get gameplay at up to 4K at 60fps and the ability to play on two separate devices at once. 

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To play though, you will need a Luna Controller. Just like the Stadia Controller, the Luna controller connects to your Wi-Fi network so you can play. Right now, Luna is available on an early access invitation-only trial in the US. The subscription, called Luna+ will cost $5.99/month and the Luna Controller will cost $49.99.

Amazon’s Luna is here to take on Google Stadia. Source: Amazon

Alexa Updates

Amazon’s voice assistant wasn’t left out. Amazon announced some interesting new features coming to its voice-driven devices. These include:

  • Alexa Guard Plus: A subscription service that costs $4.99, Guard Plus will add a variety of features to Alexa Guard available in the US. You get a more robust sound detector (such as opening/closing of doors), and deterrent features like a dog bark. It will also link to a third party emergency helpline, connecting users with the police and fire department.
  • Upgraded Hunches: The suggestions feature will now allow Alexa to perform certain functions without asking. Of course, there are safeguards built-in, so you won’t be automatically locked out of your house when going for a run.
  • Sound Detector: Alexa can use the sounds around your house to trigger automatic actions, like turning off the TV when you snore. 
  • Music Sharing: You can tell Alexa to share a song with someone else who has an Echo or Echo product. Right now Amazon hasn’t specified if this is limited to Amazon Music, but it seems like it.

Of course, as with all things Amazon there are a lot of privacy issues built-in. The company has done its best to reassure customers that the updates are all safe, but we will take that with a pinch of salt for now. If you want to grab any of these latest goodies, you should probably wait for Black Friday, where Amazon typically discounts its latest products. 

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