Amazon Announces New Alexa-Powered Smart Home Devices
Amazon has announced a host of new devices powered by Amazon’s AI assistant Alexa during the Amazon Hardware Event 2017. Amazon’s efforts to push Alexa into every aspect of your home or office was evident during the hardware event. Here are the top products announced at the event:
Priced at US$149, the Echo Plus is about the same size as the original Echo from 2014 but, also acts as a smart home hub with second-generation far-field voice recognition and enhanced sound. The Echo Plus uses Zigbee as a low-power way to extend its wireless range and can control more than 100 smart home devices in the market via voice, without any apps required. The Echo Plus will scan the room for smart devices and set it up automatically. In a demo shown during the event, the Echo Plus scanned a Philips Hue smart bulb and was able to control it within 15 seconds. The Echo Plus will come bundled with a Philips Hue smart bulb and will be available black, white and silver colour variants. The Philips Hue bulb bundle shows that Amazon really want consumers to get into the smart home tech game.
A new Alexa feature demonstrated during the event was the series of tasks that can be triggered with a simple phrases. The Echo Plus, once set up and connected to all the smart devices in your home can open the blinders, start the coffee machine and tell the weather by just saying “Good Morning Alexa.”
The Echo Spot is a smart alarm clock powered by Alexa which also has a screen for video calling and can be connected to external Bluetooth speakers. The Echo Spot has a 2.5 inch screen and display lyrics of the songs playing or used for video calling as well. The Echo Spot looks like a crossover of Echo Dot and Echo Show with compact size and a display. The new Echo Spot will run you US$130 and will go on sale on December 19th.
Ever felt like playing a trivia game with your friends but never had a buzzer to get the whole TV feel? The Echo Buttons fill that hole. The Echo Buttons will retail in a pack of two and act as buzzers for game nights with family and friends. Priced at US$20, Echo Buttons are hockey puck-shaped devices and will work alongside an Alexa-enabled device.
New Cheaper Echo
Amazon also announced a refreshed verson of the original Echo from 2014. The new Echo is about half the size of the original one and costs US$99. In order to push the new Echo as multi-room audio device and compete with Sonos, Amazon is offering a bundle of three Amazon Echo’s for US$249. The new Echo also has a dedicated bass tweeter. The new Echo will also make 911 calls now and in order to push Amazon Alexa as a phone replacement, the company announced a separate US$35 device called Connect. Connect connects to your landline and makes free calls for you. Your number will still be attached to Connect so that the receiver can identify your number. The Echo will be available in a host of different finishes like wood and cloth.
The Amazon Fire TV will now support 4K HDR video playback at 60fps. It has Dolby Atmos integration and an Alexa voice remote, and will cost US$69.99. The price places it far below its direct rival, the Apple TV 4K which costs US$179. The size of the Fire TV is also much smaller and can be attached to the back of a television unlike its predecessor which looked like a set top box. Amazon has opened it for pre order and will start shipping the Fire TV on October 25th.
All these devices will be available in the United States right now and it’s global availability has not been announced yet. There were reports of Amazon Echo Dot launching in India during the festive season, and with a host of festivals round the corner, it might happen anytime now.