The e-commerce and technology giant Amazon announced a slew of new products at its hardware event on Wednesday, including some new Alexa-powered Echo devices, as well as, upgrades to the existing ones along with a renewed Fire TV device.
Here are the top five announcements Amazon made at the event:
The most interesting announcement at the event is the new Alexa-powered device called Echo Spot, a smart alarm clock that can make video calls and be connected to external speakers via cable or Bluetooth. With a front-camera, the device allows users to make hands-free calls, texts, in addition to checking weather alerts and watching videos, if they want to.
This cute circular-screened 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.
The Echo Spot is going on sale on December 19th and costs $130. It will start shipping in the US first, while the availability for UK and Germany would follow next year.
Another addition to the Echo family is the Echo Plus. It’s the same size as the existing Echo, but it includes a Smart Hub which allows users to set up and control devices like smart lights, switches, etc. The new Echo Plus comes with second-generation far-field voice recognition, improved sound quality and a Philips Hue smart light bulb. It also uses Zigbee as a low-power way to extend its wireless range.
Priced at $150, the ‘smart home hub’ is compatible with over 100 smart home devices and can be set up using voice commands, without any apps, the company claims.
The device, available in three colors (black, white and silver) comes out on October 31.
There is also a new and smaller version of the Amazon Echo which is priced at $99. It’s about half the size of the original Echo.
Amazon also launched an Alexa accessory called Echo Connect. The new device, priced at USD 35, will make landline calls using Alexa. However, your landline phone number will still be linked to the calls so that receivers can identify you.
It is one of the smallest products in the Echo family. Priced at $20 for a two-pack, Echo Buttons are hockey puck-shaped devices that you can use to play various interactive games along with Alexa-powered trivia games. It’s like having a TV-style trivia game in your house.
New Fire TV
The company also introduced a refreshed Fire TV, just days after Apple launched its updated Apple TV with 4K support. It is one of the biggest announcements made by the Amazon, which supports 4K HDR videos with 2160p resolution at 60 frames per second. It also has Dolby Atmos integration and an Alexa voice remote.
The new Fire TV will start shipping on October 25, which is available for pre-order in the US with a price tag of $69.99 (while Apple TV 4K is priced at USD 179). 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.
BMW + Alexa
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.
With Alexa in BMW and Mini cars, you will be able to use Alexa in a similar way you would at home with an Echo device. For example, you will be able to ask Alexa for directions, make phone calls, play music, and control your smart home devices.