Amazon revealed a bunch of revamped tech at their press event today, although most of the tech will be for Echo hardware. The speaker, which was released in 2014, has been in need of an update, especially since they added a camera and a touchscreen to the device not too long ago. The Echo Look (a device with a camera installed in it) was more so that a user could compare their clothes to those on Amazon and work from there to build a fashionable wardrobe. A good idea, but the Echo Look wasn’t as popular with people as Amazon may have hoped. So the announcements from today’s press event are important in regards to the company’s future in the tech world. Take a look at them below.
The Brand-Spankin’ New Echo Plus
As a part of the Echo update, Amazon will release the Echo Plus. This new device will essentially replace the original, yet will maintain the same size as the old one while adding some new features for users to get excited about. The Plus will act as a smart hub for your home, fully equipped with advanced voice recognition and enhanced sound hardware. At a starting price tag of $149, Amazon plans on making this Echo a must have for anyone with a smart home device (like Amazon’s Alexa). Note that it won’t be compatible with all smart home devices, but over 100 different ones will be able to sync up with the Echo Plus. The device is available for pre-order now and comes out on October 31.
Cheaper Echoes Are Also Coming Soon
There are also a series of new, smaller Echoes on sale for pre-order for about $99. At about half the size of the original Echo (and Plus), consumers have the opportunity to buy them in bulk so that they can have audio in multiple rooms. Buyers can purchase these devices in packs of three for $249, with the choice of cloth, wood, and other finishes to match the setting they’ll be placed in. The second generation Echo will be released on October 31 as well.
Along with the second generation Echoes being released, Amazon also plans on having a trivia-style Echo to come out as well. The hockey-puck shaped buttons (Echo Buttons) will be able to be used alongside an Alexa device to play trivia games. This idea is a step forward–technologically speaking–in regards to family entertainment that can be enjoyed in the comfort of one’s home.
The Echo Buttons will be the first in a new line of devices referred to as “Alexa Gadgets” by Amazon. The buttons will sell in two-packs for $20. No release date has been specified yet, but it’s speculated that they’ll be coming at some point during the holiday season.
The Echo Spot, An Advanced Alarm Clock
The Echo Spot may be the most unique announcement that happened during the Amazon press event. The device is a smart alarm clock that has the ability to make video calls and be connected to external speakers via Bluetooth or a cable. It’s pretty much made for those who can’t hear their alarms when they wake up (aka me). Enter a loudspeaker; exit no more being late for work. It’ll come equipped with a 2.5-inch screen and is a hybrid of the Echo Dot and Echo Show. Like the Show and the Dot, the Spot will have built-in speakers and the ability to stream from Pandora, Spotify, and other music streaming services. The Echo Spot will be on sale in December for $130.
Alexa And BMW Are Getting Married
Yep, you read that right: Alexa and BMW are going to be officially a”thing.” Alexa will be integrated into BMW and select Mini vehicles in the beginning of 2018. In line with this “marriage,” far-field microphones will be embedded inside the car while projecting Alexa content on the head-unit.
Previously, Amazon and BMW teamed up to bring an Alexa Skill to their vehicles, as Amazon’s website describes in regards to Alexa: “BMW Connected is literally coming home. Manage your schedule by asking when you should leave for your next trip. Start your journey in comfort by switching on the climate control in advance. And keep your BMW secure by locking the doors without lifting a finger.” It’ll be the first time the two companies have worked together to bring the voice assistant actually inside the car.
The New Amazon Fire TV
There has been 4K support for the Amazon Fire TV for a good amount of time now, but, announced at the press event, a new device will be released that’ll support a 4K HDR video with 2160p resolution at 60 frames per second. That’s a pretty impressive step forward in regards to the quality of the device’s video capabilities.
The great thing about the updated Fire TV is the fact that it will only be $69.99. They must have known to price it as it is, because, just a few days earlier, Apple launched its own 4K Apple TV with a price tag of $179. It’s not like the difference is $10… There’s a disparity of $110. I’m sure the heads of the project at Apple are bumping heads to come up with something to differentiate their product from Amazon’s. As it is now, there isn’t much of a difference between the two products in regards to quality and capabilities.
With the new Fire TV, there’ll be HDR10 but not Dolby Vision support for HDR playback. On the audio side of things, the device will use Dolby Atmos Integration. On the other hand, the new Apple TV will use both HDR10 and Dolby Vision but not Dolby Atmos Integration. So both devices will have their limitations, but one is way more expensive than the other. I think I know which one will sell more.
The 4K Fire TV will be released on October 25.