Amazon took a blunderbuss approach to their device event this morning, so we’re going to attempt to nutshell the lot. Revealed today were a whole bunch of Amazon Echo devices, a DVR called Fire TV Recast, and a set of improvements for Alexa across all Alexa-friendly devices. “The Alexa service is always getting smarter, whether you’re using the Echo you bought three years ago or an Echo Show you buy tomorrow” said Tom Taylor, Senior Vice President, Amazon Alexa, “Soon customers will be able to manage their email, easily secure their home, watch the shows they love on Echo Show, and make their daily routines more productive—all just by asking Alexa.”
1. New Alexa Features
Amazon announced enough features to fill a day’s worth of articles, so I’ll collect them all here in a nutshell. Alexa Guard will activate smart home security measures by saying “Alexa, I’m leaving.” Hunches is Alexa’s learning AI system that’ll predict when you’ve forgotten items like turning out the living room light once you’ve left your home.
Frustration Free Setup is Amazon’s new quick-setup initiative that’ll allow Echo devices (and others in the future) to be set up by scanning a barcode or by asking Alexa to do so. Local Voice Control will let Alexa work locally, even if there’s no internet. Video Doorbell will allow Echo Show to work with Ring and August doorbell cameras.
Other features are coming too, like Location-Based Reminders, Cook with Alexa, Multi-step Requests, Email Integration, and Whisper Mode. Echo Show will soon have its own web browser, and TIDAL will soon be available on all Echo devices. Left-Right Stereo Pairing will soon be ready for two or more Echo devices, and Amazon Music New Release Notifications will soon tell users when their favorite artist released a new track or album.
There’s more too – have a peek at our article Alexa is learning how to whisper – and more – to learn more.
2. Amazon Echo Show 2018 (2nd gen)
The newest Echo Show has a 10-inch HD display, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat, and a built-in smart home hub. This device will have video doorbell integration, Skype calling, Alexa calling, and Drop In calling. Users will be able to watch Hulu, NBC, and Vevo, and with the Fire TV Recast, they’ll be able to watch DVR content as well.
The new 2018 version of the Amazon Echo Show will cost around $230 USD. There’s also a new “accompanying stand” that’ll be made available “to adjust the viewing and camera angles” of the Echo Show for $30 USD. Both items are available for pre-order today and will ship starting in October.
3. Amazon Echo Dot 2018 (3rd gen)
Echo Dot 2018 is the third generation for the device. This version comes in Charcoal, Heather, Gray, and Sandstone, and is covered with a fabric finish. This version of the Echo Dot “plays music louder with richer sound” as well. The new Echo Dot 2018 will be available for approximately $50 USD. Pre-orders will begin this afternoon and shipping starts in October.
4. Amazon Echo Plus 2018 (2nd gen)
The 2018 edition of the Echo Plus is the second generation, now with a modified design, “upgraded sound”, and a built-in smart home hub. This new Echo Plus has Zigbee smart home control abilities and a new temperature sensor. The 2018 Echo Plus will be made available for the same price as the last version – that’s right around $150 USD. Pre-orders start today and shipping begins nest month.
5. Amazon Echo Auto
The Echo Auto brings an 8-microphone array “designed for in-car acoustics,” and speech recognition technology. Echo Auto allows the driver to speak with and work with Alexa – “Echo Auto lets Alexa hear you over music, A/C, and road noise.” This device is powered by a USB port or 12V power outlet and it transmits audio through a 3.5mm audio jack or Bluetooth to the car’s stereo.
The Amazon Echo Auto will be made available “by invitation” soon. It’ll be made available first for around $25 – but we don’t yet know how much it’ll cost in its general release.
6. Amazon Fire TV Recast
Fire TV Recast is a DVR that connects to a HDTV antenna (sold separately) to get all local over-the-air TV content for no additional fee. This DVR can record 2-4 shows at a time and has either 500GB or 1TB internal storage to keep either 75 hours or 150 hours of HD video. The lesser model costs approximately $230 while the 1TB version costs $280, and both will be available November 14th, 2018.
7. Amazon Echo Wall Clock
The Amazon Echo Wall Clock is easily one of the least expected places for Alexa I’ve yet witnessed. This clock has a 60-LED ring that’ll show “multiple timers for cooking, countdown to a family event, and show visual animations for alarms and reminders to keep you on schedule.”
The clock itself doesn’t have mics or speakers – it relies on an Amazon Echo device to reach Alexa. The clock is, instead, a smart device made to work with Alexa to display times and timers. Amazon Echo Wall Clock will be available soon for around $30 USD. Pre-orders start this afternoon and shipping will begin later this year.
8. Amazon Echo Input
Amazon Echo Input has a four-microphone array and connects to a 3rd-party speaker to turn said speaker into an Echo-like device. Basically Echo Input is the brain, the ears, and the internet connectivity, and it requires a 3rd-party speaker to transmit audio. Echo Input will be available later this year in black and white for $35 USD. Pre-orders start as early as this afternoon.
9. Amazon Echo Sub
Amazon Echo Sub is a subwoofer, or what Amazon calls “the first wireless Echo subwoofer for those who want to pump up the bass when listening to music on their existing or new Echo devices.” This subwoofer connects with existing Echo devices to create more expansive sound. Echo Sub will be available soon for around $130 USD. Pre-orders start today, shipping starts later this year.
10. Amazon Echo Link
Amazon Echo Link is one of two new devices with “Link” in their name. Echo Link is an “audio component” that acts as the brain for your 3rd-party stereo system. This device allows your stereo system to stream music services. Echo Link includes analog, optical, coax, headphone 3.5mm, and subwoofer line-outs; and analog, optical, and coax line-ins. It also has an ethernet port, support for multi-room music with Alexa, and a big fat volume knob. Amazon Echo Link will be made available for $200 soon. Availability starts later this year, pre-orders start today.
NOTE: Number 10 and 11 are pictured together in the two photos immediately above and below. The larger device is the Link Amp, the smaller device is the Link (non-Amp).
11. Amazon Echo Link Amp
Amazon Echo Link Amp has everything given to the Echo Link, but with an amplifier built-in too. Inside is a 60W 2-channel amplifier with left-right speaker binding post outputs to support the direct wiring of both passive and/or non-powered speakers of all sorts. The Echo Link Amp will be made available for $300 soon. Availability starts in early 2019.
12. AmazonBasics Microwave
AmazonBasics Microwave is very similar to the clock revealed today in that it’s very Alexa-centric. This microwave was built specifically to work with Alexa, but it does not have a microphone or speaker. It connects to your Echo device (sold separately) and obeys your every microwave-based command. The AmazonBasics Microwave will be available for around $60 USD. Pre-order starts today and shipping starts later this year. See our hands-on feature for this microwave in: I cooked a potato with my voice, and it might be the IoT’s tipping point.
13. Amazon Smart Plug
Amazon Smart Plug is a middleman between your old non-smart devices and the power they connect to via your wall outlet. The Smart Plug has no microphone or speaker – instead it connects to your Alexa-enabled devices to act as part of your larger smart home ecosystem. With this plug, Alexa can stop or allow power to be given to your appliances and lights, thereby making them semi-smart. The Amazon Smart Plug will be made available for around $25 USD, with pre-order starting today and shipping starting next month.
14. Ring Stick Up Cam 2018 (owned by Amazon)
Ring was acquired by Amazon back in April of 2018 – so they’ll be showing up at Amazon events for the foreseeable future. They’ll also be certain to roll with Alexa from here on out, too – as if they ever didn’t! The newest version of the Ring Stick Up Cam will come in white or black, wired or wireless, with the wired edition coming with power over ethernet. This version of the Ring Stick Up Cam will start at around $180, and we’ll be seeing how it stands up to the original, soon.
15. OMG what else now, jeepers!
We’ll be reviewing ALL of these devices in the next few weeks (and possibly months), so stick around to see what’s up. Let us know if you have any questions in the meantime. We’ll be getting up close and personal right this minute and again at home soon!
[Updated to reflect the Ring acquisition date]