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Amazon announced a slate of new hardware in an hour-long virtual event it held today at its Seattle office.
The presentation kicked off with an update on the company’s sustainability goals, which include using 100% recycled fabric for its echo speakers, introducing a low power mode to its new and existing devices, and giving users an “energy dashboard” to monitor their electricity consumption.
The rest of Amazon’s keynote was dedicated to hardware announcements, which ranged from updates to its Echo smart speakers, Eero Wi-Fi routers, and Fire TV sticks, to entirely new smart security equipment from Ring.
Amazon made the most significant changes to its Echo Dot, Echo, and Echo Show 10 smart speakers, which all received a complete redesign. The Echo Dot and Echo have a new spherical shape, with fabric on top, and a plastic base on the bottom.
The regular Echo now has a Zigbee smart antenna inside, which allows it to connect to even more smart home accessories without requiring an external hub. This new feature (and a few others, like improved speech recognition) are enabled by Amazon’s new AZ1 chip, which makes its debut with this device.
The Echo Show 10 retains its HD display, but the screen sits on a rotating display, which can follow you around while you’re on a video call, or swivel in your direction by recognizing where your voice is coming from. Amazon says the Show’s motors have a “brushless design,” which won’t make a lot of noise when it’s moving around.
The most significant change is that the Echo Show 10 now has a 13MP (megapixel) camera, and support for both Zoom and Chime, two popular video conferencing apps. Amazon also announced that Netflix will be available on the Echo Show 10 for the first time. The Echo Show 10 also features Amazon’s new AZ1 chip, and will be available for $249.99 and is “coming soon.”
All of the new Echo devices benefit from a handful of new updates to Alexa, Amazon’s smart-home assistant. You’ll be able to tell Alexa when it makes an error, and it’ll learn from its mistakes to avoid them again. Alexa can also insert pauses, and breaths, which can mimic the experience of speaking to a real person. By using context clues and machine learning, Alexa devices will also understand when you’re talking to them instead of another person.
Amazon also announced hardware refreshes for its Fire TV Stick, which is 50% more powerful, supports HD streaming, both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, and consumes 50% less power. It’ll be available on September 30 for $39.99. The company also announced the Fire TV Stick Lite, which doesn’t support Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos, hasn’t received the power bump, and will be available on September 30 for $29.99.
Both devices will receive the latest version of Fire TV OS, the software that power’s Amazon’s media streamers. The latest update includes support for picture-in-picture, and an updated version of Alexa that won’t take over your entire TV set when you answer a question.
Both of these Fire TV Sticks were developed to work with Luna, Amazon’s new video game streaming service, which launches in the United States very soon. Luna costs $5.99 per month, and includes unlimited access to over 50 premium games; Amazon announced a partnership with Ubisoft, which will double Luna’s game library.
You’ll be able to play these games using Amazon’s new Luna controller, which will be available for $49.99, and launch shortly. Subscribers will be able to play Luna games on the Fire TV Stick, computers running Windows or MacOS, and phones and tablets running iOS and Android. Luna also integrates with Twitch, the most popular video game streaming services. If you see a streamer playing a game available on Luna, you’ll be able to launch the game and start playing it yourself.
The hardware announcements continued with updates to Amazon’s Eero and Eero Pro routers, which both received two significant updates. The bigger one is that these new routers support Wi-Fi 6, the latest version of the wireless standard that will enable faster speeds, more stable connections, and the ability to connect to over 75 devices simultaneously.
The second change is that both of these routers now have a Zigbee antenna inside, so you’ll be able to connect your phone to more smart-home accessories through your router instead of an external hub. Both routers will launch on November 6: the eero 6 will be available for for 129$, while the eero 6 Pro will be available for for $229.
Finally, Amazon announced a flurry of new connected security devices coming from Ring. This includes three car security gadgets: Ring Car Alarm, Ring Car Cam, and Ring Car Connect. The Car Alarm will make a loud noise if someone bumps into your car, or tries to break in. You’ll also receive a notification if your car is towed.
Ring’s Car Cam is a dash cam that will continually monitor your car, even when it’s turned off. The Car Cam will also provide emergency crash assistance if you get into an accident, even if you’re unable to issue a command. Amazon has also announced a new Alexa feature called Traffic Stop, which will begin a brand new recording, send video stream to the cloud, and alert a family member that you’ve been pulled over.
The final Ring hardware announcement was the Always Home Cam, an indoor HD camera built into a drone, which can fly on a designated flight path throughout your place, or go to an area if it hears a sound that’s out of place. These Ring devices will be available between now and early 2021, but are not available for preorder just yet. Ring also introduced end-to-end encryption on any video sent from your camera to the cloud, which will roll out next year.
All of this new hardware affirms Amazon’s commitment to dominate the smart home space. They enable you to get on the internet, control your smart-home devices, play games in and out of your house, stream videos, and monitor your home and car. Alexa ties all of this gear together, and allows you to use a single smart platform for many of the devices in your life.