In case you missed it, Amazon threw a surprise event Thursday and as rumored, it unveiled a barrage of Alexa-enabled devices that aimed to expand its virtual assistant’s chokehold on the smart home market.
Some may say that it’s like a poor man’s Apple event but boy oh boy, with Amazon’s torrent of new and truly exciting product announcements, the online shopping king may just have out-Apple’d Apple this year.
Read on and check out these twenty (yes, twenty!) Amazon announcements that you may have missed. We hope that you are excited as we are!
1. Redesigned Echo Dot
The Echo Dot is a big success story for Amazon mainly because of its affordability. And why not? For $50, consumers can get a complete Alexa experience in a cute but unassuming form factor.
But despite its hotcake-like popularity, Amazon has redesigned the diminutive smart speaker with a prettier look.
With its multiple color options, fabric body, and improved sound, it looks like the Echo Dot’s makeover is an obvious attempt to position itself better against its closest rival, the Google Home Mini.
Worth it? For $50? Definitely worth getting especially if you’re just starting to get into the whole smart home trend.
The new Echo Dot will be released on October 11 but it’s available for pre-order now. Note: The second-generation Echo Dot is now $40.
2. Echo Input
Here’s another surprise product from Amazon – the Echo Input! It’s essentially an Echo Dot without the built-in speaker, meant to be connected via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable to your existing sound system or speaker.
Since the Echo Input doesn’t have a speaker, it is coaster thin, perfect for integrating it with your current audio setup.
Worth it? At $35, if you already have nice speakers that you want to add Alexa functionality to, then the Echo Input is a no-brainer. For example, with the Echo’s multi-room audio function, I can finally repurpose my old first-generation Airplay speakers to blanket my house with computer-free streaming music. Coming on October 11,
3. Stereo sound with two Echo speakers
Directly going after Sonos speaker systems and the Apple HomePod, second-gen Echo speakers are getting the long overdue stereo pairing ability. With an upcoming software update, you can finally pair two Echo speakers for true left and right channel stereo sound.
This may not sound like a big deal, but for audio and music enthusiasts, this is a significant upgrade.
4. Echo Sub
Speaking of audio systems, one of the biggest gripes about the Amazon Echo is its less-than-adequate bass response. To address that, a subwoofer was one of the rumored Amazon products pegged for this year. Sure enough, here it is – the aptly-named Echo Sub.
With the Echo’s new stereo pairing and improved multi-room audio features, you can link up an Echo Sub and two Echo speakers for a complete 2.1 audio system, similar to what Sonos and Bose already offer.
Worth it? If it can deliver the enhanced audio it promises, compared to its competitors, the Echo Sub is reasonably priced at $130. Amazon is also selling an Echo Sub and two Echo speaker bundle for $250, much more affordable than a $380 pair of Alexa-enabled Sonos One speakers. October 11 is the release day but you can preorder it now.
5. Echo Link Amp
As rumored, it appears that Amazon is gearing up for the audio enthusiast crowd with the announcement of the Echo Link Amp.
The Echo Link Amp is a hi-fi music streaming gadget with a built-in 60-watt two-channel amplifier. This means you can integrate any existing home speaker setup with Echo’s multi-room audio system.
Worth it? If you have an existing home audio component system (audiophile speakers, turntables, etc.), the $299 Echo Link Amp is worth a look.
6. Echo Link
Directly related to the Echo Link Amp, if you have already have a high-end home audio system with its own audiophile-grade amplifier and receiver, then the $200 Echo Link is a better option.
Worth it? Not sure if this is worth $200, but this nifty little gadget will upgrade your existing stereo system with high-fidelity streaming music and Alexa control.
With the Echo Link lines focus on hi-fi streaming, is Amazon planning its own Tidal-like high-fidelity music streaming service soon?
7. New Echo Plus
The Echo Plus, Amazon’s smart speaker/smart appliance hub, also gets a makeover this year.
Similar to the new Echo Dot, the Plus will also come with a new fabric finish and a smaller form factor.
It will also have a built-in temperature sensor (that should integrate seamlessly with smart thermostats) and a new premium Dolby 360-degree speaker system with improved bass.
Worth it? Converting your home into a smart home can be a hot mess of separate hubs and competing systems. If you want to skip the oftentimes complicated smart home setups, then the $150 2nd-gen Echo Plus is the one for you.
It will be released on October 14 but you can preorder. Amazon will even throw in a Philips Hue smart bulb to get you started.
8. Local Voice Control
Amazon addresses one of the most annoying things about smart home control. Since it’s cloud-based, if your Echo loses internet access, you lose control of all your Alexa-enabled smart appliances too.
Local Voice Control to the rescue. With this new feature, select Alexa controls can now be accessed locally on the device. This way, Alexa won’t have to connect to the cloud each time you want to turn your smart lights on and off.
9. Frustration-free setup
Amazon also announced a new “Frustration-free setup” system for its smart devices.
With this in place, installation of an Alexa-enabled smart appliance, say, a smart outlet, will be “as easy as plugging it in.”
With this system, Amazon will be able to store your encrypted Wi-Fi credentials on the cloud and share them automatically with third-party smart gadgets for seamless set-up.
10. Amazon Smart Plug
Speaking of smart outlets, Amazon also announced its very own Smart Plug, a simple way to add Alexa voice control to any non-smart appliance.
With this plug, you schedule lights, fans, and appliances to turn on and off automatically, and even control them remotely when you’re away.
Worth it? A bit overpriced at $25. But with Amazon’s “frustration-free setup,” the ease of setting them up can make up for it. Out on October 11.
11. Alexa Hunches
The just-announced Alexa Hunches are similar to AI and deep learning predictions. With this new feature, Alexa can learn your daily routines and remind you of activities that you may have neglected to do.
For example, when it’s time for bed, Alexa could remind you to lock your (smart) door if you forgot to.
12. Alexa Connect Kit
Here’s a gadget that’s meant more for developers but it opens many possibilities for the consumer market. It’s called the Alexa Connect Kit and it’s a small module that allows gadget manufacturers to easily add Alexa capabilities and Amazon cloud syncing to their products.
13. AmazonBasics Microwave (best surprise of the day!)
Now, here’s the best Amazon product reveal of the day in my opinion! I’ve never been excited for a microwave before but I am now.
As rumored, an Alexa-enabled microwave was unveiled and it’s called…. wait for it… the AmazonBasics Microwave. What makes this so special? Well, for one, it has built-in Dash replenishments and a dedicated popcorn button!
This microwave may not have a built-in speaker but, of course, it can also be voice-controlled through a nearby Echo device. Now, instead of setting up timers, you can simply tell Alexa to “reheat a cup of soup.”
And the best part is this — the AmazonBasics Microwave is just $60. That’s simply unbeatable.
Worth it? An Alexa-enabled microwave oven for $60? Of course, it is! Preorder now. It releases on November 14.
14. Echo Wall Clock
Another new gadget that was announced was the Echo Wall Clock.
Although its name might suggest it, this analog wall clock doesn’t actually have Alexa built into it, rather, it works with your other Echo devices to show your Alexa timers via LED lights around its rim. As a bonus, this connected wall clock will also set its own time and adjust itself to Daylight Savings Time automatically.
Worth it? At $30, maybe not. The timer function is cool but this wall clock may be a bit overpriced for what you’re actually getting. However, its fresh new take on analog clocks can’t be denied.
15. Alexa Guard Mode
Here’s one useful security update for Echo devices: a mode called “Alexa Guard.”
With this feature, you can inform Alexa that you’re leaving your house and she’ll set all your Echoes into “Away Mode.”
With Guard Mode, your Echoes can act like security sensors and they will send you notifications if they hear the sound of breaking glass or an alarm. Guard Mode will also randomly turn your smart light on and off to make it appear as if you’re home.
Quite a brilliant update, if you ask me.
16. Ring Doorbell Show Integration
Amazon purchased Ring for a good reason — it wants to integrate home security with their smart home plans.
In line with this, Amazon is integrating more of Ring’s functions with its Echo line of products. With the new Alexa Smart Home API, your Echo Show can now automatically stream your Ring Doorbell’s camera footage when someone rings it.
Additionally, you can now lock compatible smart locks from Schlage, Yale, Kwikset and Danalock straight from the Ring app.
17. Ring Stick Up Cam
In line with the Ring product expansion, Amazon also announced the new $180 Ring Stick Up Cam, available on Oct. 18.
This all-new Ring camera monitors indoor or outdoor areas at home in 1080p HD video with a smaller design that you can mount almost anywhere.
Worth it? Ring products are solid security gadgets. If you want to add expanded coverage into your Ring system, this camera is definitely worth it. The Ring Stick Up Cam is available for pre-order now and will be released on Oct. 18.
18. All-new Echo Show
The video-enabled Echo Show gets a major redesign, too. The second generation Show is smaller yet it has better sound than its predecessor. It will also come with the new fabric design similar to the new Echo Dot and Echo Plus. The new Echo Show will also sport a bigger 10-inch display and an expanded eight-mic array.
Worth it? It’s the same price as the original Echo Show at $230. With all the new features you’re getting, it’s definitely worth it — if you want to add video features to Alexa, that is. If you want the original Echo Show instead, this is the time to get it! It’s on sale for $129 right now.
19. Fire TV Recast
Now, here’s a surprise product — the Fire TV Recast.
What is it? Basically, it’s a DVR system for your antenna-based TV. It can record two to four live shows at a time (depending on the model) and stream them to multiple devices. There’s even a feature in its app that can help you find the best spot for your TV antenna.
Worth it? A bit pricey at $229, but with its built-in storage and live TV recording, it can be a must-have device for cord-cutters. This item will be released on November 14, 2018.
20. Echo Auto
The Amazon Echo Auto is essentially a small gadget that puts Alexa in your car. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth for its data connection and it can give you Alexa functions on the go. You can even ask it for directions and it will show you turn-by-turn directions on your phone.
Worth it? Relatively cheap at $50 but couldn’t you just do everything that the Echo Auto can do on your phone? Psst. If you apply for a preorder now, you can get the Echo Auto for $25.