Psst! Want to know more about Amazon’s secret hardware launch in Seattle?

echo

Here is the summa. Secret is giving amazon more credit, than they deserve, the event seems more rushed and unorganized especially compared to other tech giants.

The echo dot gets an update “industrial design, fabric base with multiple colors” sound familiar? Jokes aside the echo dot is the reason Alexa continues to grow in user base, its pricing and compact footprint made it accessible compared to the Apple HomePod or Google home. The 2018 update gets a 70% louder and sounds better than the previous generation while staying under $50. So better build, better audio and the same price.


The echo input is the amazon echo which cannot create an echo, this pebble shaped device ships without a speaker. Aiming to make existing speakers “smart”. It gives customers the freedom to use speakers of their choice and still have access to Alexa. A nifty idea for $34.99.
The echo sub is a portable subwoofer for echo devices, this is where things get a little iffy. Depending on the number of echo devices in your home you can either configure it to 1.1 or a stereo 2.1 configuration. At $129.99 the little 100W sub doesn’t make much sense to us at the moment but well hold final judgement until they start delivery.



The echo plus is basically a bigger echo with a fabric lining, better audio and a temperature sensor. Do you see what’s happening? They are flooding the market with very similar products all launched at the same time which also compete with each other in one way or the other. Getting back to the echo plus at $149.99 you can add a routine which lets Alexa control the temperature at home or you could use IFTT to write an applet.

There’s a new Alexa enabled smart plug for $24.99, it’s a smart plug just like any other.

The Echo show is a couple of years old now, and honestly, the hardware was never really that spectacular to begin with. Well, Amazon just introduced a new version of the screen, sporting smart speaker, which features a much nicer design and more. Like the rest of the company’s recently introduced Echo products, the new device features a more premium cloth design. The screen size has been doubled to 10 inches, while the speaker has been tweaked to now feature real-time Dolby processing. The product features an eight-microphone array and will integrate Microsoft’s Skype for non-proprietary chatting. The company has also added third-party browsers, including Firefox, further blurring the line between the display-enabled smart speaker and the company’s Fire tablet offerings.There are various other fun new skills for the refreshed product, including a Battleship game. The product will also integrate with Amazon’s  security offerings through the camera and new doorbell API.The newly designed Show should help Amazon compete with the various third-party Smart Displays introduced for Google Assistant, along with a proprietary Google device expected to be announced next month.
Like its predecessor, the product runs $229.

Alexa Guard, Now this is something where we see potential, if polished. It’s a hub which uses existing smart products. You could tell it to turn on the lights before you leave and it would, or it detects glass breaking or smoke and alerts the user on his phone. At its current state much of the functionality can be replicated easily but with proper routines you could possible use it to call emergency services, or provide one time access to UPS. Among the slew of devices Amazon  announced in Seattle is a new Ring Stick Up Cam – stick up, because it’s designed to go anywhere. Well, almost anywhere. The camera comes in two versions, one that’s battery-powered and could be more easily used outdoors, as well as one that’s wired, which may make more sense indoors.These are called The Ring  Stick Up Cam Wired and Ring Stick Up Cam Battery, respectively.The cameras are the first from Ring that are designed for both indoor and outdoor user, and will also connect with Ring’s Neighborhoods app that helps nearby Ring users communicate about suspicious activity in their neighborhood.The device also supports power over Ethernet (PoE) so if your house is wired for that specifically, you’ll have another option to power the device, Amazon says. Another option is through a micro-USB power supply that provides an internet connection and consistent power.When used indoors, the Ring Stick Up Cam will notify users of any suspicious motion inside the home. When used outdoors, home owners can have a view of their property and further surroundings.Both cameras feature motion detection, 1080p full HD resolution, night vision, two-way talk, a siren, and a wide viewing angle. They will also integrate with Ring Alarm and Alexa in the coming months, Amazon says. When Ring Alarm is disarmed, the cameras will stop recording and detecting motion. When Ring Alarm is enabled and is triggered, the siren will sound. It can also be then prompted to start recording.Alexa owners will be able to call up their Stick Up Cam feed by saying “Alexa, show me the living room”

Yes, there’s now an Echo Wall Clock available that has Alexa voice capabilities by pairing with an existing Echo device over Bluetooth.That means you can ask Alexa to do things like set alarms and timers, and the lines on the clock will illuminate as the time progresses. Alarms and timers, of course, are two of the most-used Echo features, and a wall clock makes sense as a place where people might like to use them, or so Amazon thinks.At the event, the company demonstrated using the clock for setting a pasta timer, which illuminates the minutes on the clock. This 60 LED ring can display multiple timers at the same time, countdown to some event, as well as show visual animations along with the chimes for timers, alarms, and reminders.The 10-inch clock is powered by a battery, and automatically syncs the current time.

Another subscription based content provider, Yay! #sarcasm. Firetv recast is a DVR which has an app that tells you the optimal location to setup an antenna. You can use this to stream the content available to echo spot, echo show, fire tv and other devices.  Unless you are away from home and hate sports bars this is a pass for us at $229.99 and 500GB of storage.
Echo auto, now you can have Alexa in your car, the device uses either the auxiliary port which is a good way to wear down or break the port on your car or Bluetooth to connect to the ICE in your car. Great Bluetooth is amazing, Bluetooth everything, However it needs your phone to connect to your car? The idea is useful but implementation is clunky at best. The location aware services can be used to say open your garage door when you arrive or turn the air condition off when you leave, but if you can do most if this using just your smart phone and the external device is not seamless enough to compete with a car that comes with android auto. If you need to make your old car “smart” then maybe.
Something that we dint mention because it’s getting kind of ridiculous at this point is the $60 Alexa microwave can use nearby echo devices to start making popcorn and has dash replenish

We kept the best for the last which for us is the awkwardly named Echo Link Amp. This is a $300 streaming amplifier with multiroom and voice control, and it’s a companion to the new Sonos Connect-like Echo Link.While the Link is a strange proposition,who has a power amp sitting around that they’d connect a $200 Amazon preamp to? The Link Amp makes much more sense. It is essentially a “BYO speakers” mini system.
It includes a 60-watt x 2-channel amplifier, Coaxial in/out, Optical in/out, Line in/out and Subwoofer output
The Amp is part of Alexa’s expanded multiroom system, which incorporates devices that now include the new Echo Plus and the Echo Sub. As far as its competition in the market the closest is the Sonos Amp, but that device offers HDMI, twice the power and retails for $600.
Amazon says the Amp offers “voice control music selection and playback with your compatible Echo device or the Alexa app.” While it’s obvious that the company wants you to interact with the device via voice it’s a little disappointing that there’s no onboard microphone or even a source indicator. At this stage it’s unclear if the inputs will even be selectable or if everything connected will simply play at once. (Hopefully it’s the former.)
 
The good the bad the meh.
The largest improvement here is the one actually made to Alexa her self, they have improved contextual conversation, like asking her a question and not having to trigger her again for a follow up question. Performance improvements and natural responses rival google assistant. But she still cant use artificial intelligence to schedule a hair cut on your behalf.
The Echo Link Amp could a very strong contender to any of the premium smart sound setups but we lack information regarding the same as of now. If you have a good set of speakers and don’t mind an active microphone in your house get the amazon input. It looks like best way to get into the ecosystem.
The smart wall clock is super pointless but super cool, because everyone needs a good alarm. The event has been long and tiring similar to this article there is way too much for us to pay attention to. The new echo dot is a good upgrade from the previous generation and you can always pair this to a larger speaker in the future.
The Echo auto and ring cam is a pass for now and the echo plus is decent device, but falls short compared to its own more affordable siblings.

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