Amazon held a surprise hardware event at their Settle campus. The surprise event brought a lot of updates to Alexa, but also hardware. During the event, they announced six new hardware devices;
- $99 cloth covered Echo
The new “Echo” is now a $99 fabric covered device. It’s cheaper and shorter than the first generation, but it still packs the same technology as the originals. Now that the Echo has support for multi-room music playback, Amazon is selling 3-packs of the Echo for $250. Not much has changed on this device regarding specs. If you do want a more premium metal or wood finish, that’ll cost you an extra $20.
- $149 smart hub Echo Plus
If you want the more traditional look of the Echo, Amazon updated it and renamed it to the Echo Plus. On the Echo Plus, you’ll have a built-in smart hub to control hundreds of smart home products. It uses Z-Wave technology to extend its wireless technology and control the IoT devices. Amazon also updated the far-field mics and speakers to recognize your commands better and sound better when playing music.
- $20 trivia Echo Buttons
Along with the new Echo’s, Amazon introduced Echo Buttons which let you play trivia games alongside Alexa. A two pack of the Echo Buttons will cost $20. The buttons are a fun way for a family game night to interact with Alexa or to get kids accustomed to Alexa.
- $70 4K Fire TV dongle
After Apple announced the 4K Apple TV, everyone is moving towards 4K content and devices. Amazon updated the Fire TV to support 4K HDR content and Dolby Atmos. Amazon also changed the form factor of the device. Now the TV is less of a box and looks more like a Chromecast. The dongle plugs directly into HDMI and is powered by USB, same as a Chromecast. The remote has Alexa built-in so that you can search with voice.
- $129 Echo Spot alarm clock
If you’ve wanted a smaller Echo Show, the Echo Spot is the perfect solution. The Spot is billed as an alarm clock that’ll sit next to your bedside, but you could put it anywhere in your home. The 2-inch screen lets you see video feeds, see lyrics of the song, or show more information on a voice search. For a $129, it’s much cheaper than the Echo Show. There’s a small camera in the device which also lets it double as a nursery camera or lets you video chat between devices.
- $35 phone system Echo Connect
Alexa can now place or receive calls, but only if you buy the Echo Connect. The Connect needs a landline connection, which men you’ll need to pay for home phone service. Once you do have home phone service and the Connect setup, Alexa can make and receive calls including to 911. This is a different path than Google which uses VoIP to place calls without any extra hardware.
Alexa is everywhere, and Amazon is embracing the technology
Alexa is a hit that Amazon never expected. They recently announced new hardware including the Echo Show and Echo Look. The new hardware today is now much cheaper and includes and a lot of new features. Nothing is over $150, and Alexa is always gaining new skills.
The new hardware comes right before the holiday rush, and most of the devices are going to hit doors Oct 31st. We’ll have to wait and see what deals Amazon offers during Black Friday and through the holiday rush on their new hardware. We’ll also have to see on Oct 4th what Google announces to compete against Alexa.
Let me know what you think about all the new Alexa hardware in the comments below! Are you going to buy or pre-order any of the devices?