Amazon Echo 2, Plus, Spot, Connect, 4K+HDR Fire TV, And More Announced
Amazon has used a private gathering in its hometown of Seattle to announce and introduce a range of new products.
Some of the introductions were expected by the tech community, whereas others, such as the bizarre new Echo Buttons, have totally blindsided everyone and left us all a little perplexed. We have all of the details below.
New Echo (2): Amazon looks to be repositioning the Echo as the affordable intelligent speaker option for the home. Once the most expensive in the Echo range, its price has now been reduced to $99.99 for a single unit or an agreeable $250 for three units. The new hardware is also significantly shorter than the original, comes with a cloth shell which can be changed at the user’s discretion, an array of finishes such as Oak, Walnut, Sliver etc, and a built-in dedicated bass tweeter for much improved sound.
Amazon has also packed in the second generation far-field technology for “better wake word processing.” If you’re looking for a cheap multi-room audio setup then this is the solution.
Pre-orders for new Echo begin today, with shipping expected to start by November 8.
Echo Plus: Echo now has a big mature brother called Echo Plus. It’s roughly the same physical size as the original Amazon Echo, and comes with smarthome hub capabilities built-in. Amazon is pushing the Echo Plus as the new member of the family which comes with little to no setup where smart accessories are concerned with the ability to control 100+ home automation devices.
The company is even throwing a single white Philips Hue bulb with the $149.99 purchase of Echo Plus. Impressively, Amazon is also introducing the concept of voice command routines with Echo Plus, meaning a user might be able to say “Alexa, good evening”, forcing the system to dim the lights to 50% and turn the television set on for an evening movie.
The Echo Plus will be available in a choice of Silver, Black, and White finishing, with pre-orders open right now and shipping expected to begin October 31.
Echo Spot: This one is a slightly strange introduction, but it’s likely to appeal to some people. Rather than taking incoming video calls on a smartphone or tablet, owners of the Spot will be able to make use of the 2.5-inch circular display to view content and receive and make those calls much like Echo Show. It can also receive video feeds from security camera amongst other things like song lyrics, weather and more.
Available in Black and White finishing, you can pre-order the Spot right now for $129.99 with shipping expected to begin December 19.
Echo Buttons: In addition to all of the above, Amazon has also introduced something called “Buttons.” It doesn’t appear that they have any real purpose yet other than being physical buttons which are connected to the Internet.
We are presuming that Amazon will be relying on handing these things over to intuitive and innovative developers to come up with cool use cases for what seems like a randomly bizarre product.
The Echo Buttons will cost $20 for a two-pack but will require an Echo device to be able to fulfill their function.
Echo Connect: This is a relatively cool little product that will be great in the home of the elderly or individuals who have physical challenges. The Connect will connect your Echo directly to a landline – yes, they still exist – to be used as a speakerphone where necessary or even allow calls to emergency services to be placed using Alexa if the owner has fallen or isn’t able to make calls.
The Connect will cost $35 when it launches later this year and can be pre-ordered today.
4K+HDR Fire TV: Apple has the Apple TV 4K with HDR and Dolby Vision support and now Amazon has the cute little 4K Fire TV dongle complete with 4K video at 60fps, HDR and Dolby Atmos audio. Sound familiar?
It also offers a 1.5GHz quad-core processor with WiFi and a complete Alexa-compatible voice remote. It all sounds very similar to what Apple is putting to the market with Apple TV 4K, but this particular piece only costs $70.
The new Fire TV is available for pre-ordering right now with shipping expected to begin October 25.
BMW Connect: It looks as though Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have a little competition. If you’re Amazon and have lofty ambitions to take over the world, you may as well go for it on a large scale. The company has now announced a partnership with BMW which will see Alexa built into all new BMW vehicles from next year.
Unlike CarPlay or Android Auto, this level of intelligence will actually be built directly into the vehicle and won’t rely on a mobile device. Alexa was in your living room, and it has now found its way into your car.