If Amazon is one thing, it’s persistent. For years they’ve been committed to filling your home with Echo devices. Powered by the proprietary hands-free assistant Alexa, their ever-growing line of devices ensures you’re always within range of turning on your lights, checking on the weather, or heating up a burrito using just your voice.
On Thursday, Amazon continued that trend by announcing a whirlwind of new products at a company event in Seattle. These include updates to some of their most popular Echo devices, as well as items designed to tackle new verticals which undercut some competitors. Some of the highlights below:
A new and improved Echo Dot
The gateway drug to voice assistants is usually Amazon’s hockey puck shaped Echo Dot that retails for $50 (although is routinely on sale for less). Outside you’ll find a more rounded design and inside a huge upgrade to the speaker that hopefully put the tinny sounding 2nd Generation Echo Dot to shame. Check it out on Amazon.
Subwoofer with Alexa inside
Amazon loves to take on leaders in other industries and the new Echo Sub seems to be a shot across the bow at Sonos. At only $130, the Echo Sub pairs with existing speakers in your home to provide powerful bass. And did we mention that Alexa will be built-in? We’re anxious to see the sound quality in an upcoming review. Check it out on Amazon..
Echo Show gets a needed design overhaul
Video screens on an Echo device have always made sense. But for some reason Amazon has struggled to make it click with consumers. Our 1st Generation Echo Show review pointed out just how ugly the design was. It looks like Amazon has remedied that with by offering up a sleaker profile and larger display screen. You’ll also be able to use Skype with it this time around. Much needed changes for the $230 device. Check it out on Amazon.
Echo Smart Plug
Smart plugs remain the cheapest and most basic entries into the world of home automation. Amazon now sells their own for $25. This could be a huge blow to Wemo and TP-Link who have dominated this industry. Check it out on Amazon.
A microwave you can talk to
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the announcement of a microwave. Piggybacking on their AmazonBasics line, this Alexa-powered kitchen appliance can take orders as long as you have Echo device nearby. Dash buttons are built-in so you can order up your favorite microwaveable meals in an instant. While it feels a bit unnecessary, the $60 price tag is cheap enough to compete with their less sophisticated competitors. Read our full review of the AmazonBasics Microwave with Alexa here or buy it on Amazon.
An Echo for the road
You’ll soon be able to turn on the lights and crank up the heat while driving home. The Echo Auto sits on your dashboard and gives you all the joys of the hands-free Alexa experience. It was one of the most intriguing product announcements at the event and should be a huge splash to loyal Echo users. It does however put a damper on competitors who have tried to make this happen such as the Roav Viva by Anker. Check it out on Amazon.
A speaker-less Echo
Need a way to communicate with Alexa but don’t need the speaker? The Alexa Input looks to be the solution. At $35, this crafty device lets you connect to an existing speaker in your home via 3.5mm audio input or Bluetooth. Amazon will be selling this as a standalone product as well as bundling with companies such as Bose. Buy it from Amazon.
Other Additions to the lineup
An upgrade to the existing Echo Plus is on the menu. The new Echo Link and Link Amp look to connect to your existing sound system and directly target Sonos. There’s a clock you can hang on your wall that will connect with existing Alexa devices. A new camera from recently acquired Ring. Fire TV Recast so you can record live TV. And plenty of new software features for Alexa too.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the event is that Amazon is not slowing down. They’re upgrading existing products and aggressively pursuing new verticals. This should be concerning for other smart home companies who might see their popular product overtaken in the blink of an eye. And perhaps to consumers who are seeing Amazon slowly take over their home. It might just be a matter of time before we’re telling Alexa when to flush.