With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, we’ve seen big product launch events from the likes of Apple, Samsung, and plenty others. Amazon announced a slew of products covering a wide range of product categories throughout the home. Unlike the others, Amazon didn’t open this event to the public, but we were invited to watch the announcement and check out details on all of the new products.
Amazon launched a few entirely new devices, starting with a long-requested Kindle you can write upon! The Kindle Scribe is a huge reading tablet that also includes a stylus for note taking. The Halo family of health-conscious gadgets got a bedside clock, the Halo Rise. The budget-friendly Amazon Fire TV brand of television sets took a step toward the upper echelons with a set that uses quantum dot QLED tech.
A number of existing Amazon products got a yearly refresh, including new Echo Dots, with some new kid-friendly characters, as well as a new Echo Auto contraption. There is an upgraded Fire TV Cube that comes with a spanking new Amazon Alexa remote control. Ring and Blink home security gear also got some fresh new kit additions.
Finally, some of Amazon’s existing products can do new things. The Amazon Astro robot, with its massive waiting list of buyers, can now detect pets and other objects around the house. The Echo Studio speaker sounds better with a new upgrade, and the Echo Show 15 can display new content.
What’s all new?
- Kindle Scribe
- Halo Rise
- Fire TV Omni QLED
What’s a new version?
- Echo Dot (5th Gen)
- Echo Auto (2nd Gen)
- Fire TV Cube (3rd Gen) and Alexa Voice Remote Pro
- Ring Spotlight Cam Pro and Alarm Panic Button
What does new things?
- Astro can detect pets and call the cops
- Echo devices extend your Wi-Fi network
- Echo Show 15 gets Fire TV
Kindle Scribe – Finally a pen for our Kindle
Amazon has finally given us a Kindle you can write on. The Kindle Scribe comes with its own stylus and lets you draw and take notes directly on the screen. You can annotate books directly, or write freestyle journal entries. The Scribe will let you write on PDF documents as well, and Amazon says it will add support for Microsoft Word in the future.
Like the S Pen used on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (and the old Galaxy Note phones), the Kindle Scribe does not need to charge its stylus. The pen is included with the device, but an advanced pen with eraser and highlighting features will be available separately.
The Kindle Scribe is a huge e-reader, with a 10.2-inch display, making it by far the largest Kindle you can buy and closer to an iPad in size. It will use a 300dpi e-ink screen, making it just as sharp as other Kindle readers.
The Scribe will be expensive, starting at £339.99 / $339.99 for a 16GB model and going up for 32GB or 64GB of storage. That price gets you four months of Kindle Unlimited books.
Halo Rise – Watches your body while you sleep
In the realm of sleep-tracking, we’ve seen some recent advancements but nothing like the Halo Rise, part of Amazon’s Halo family of fitness devices. The Halo Rise uses sensors that detect your body position while you sleep to monitor your breathing and respiration movements.
The device’s main feature is a large light that will help wake you up at the time Halo deems most appropriate, based on your sleep patterns. There is a digital clock at the center of the LEDs, in addition to a small alarm speaker.
Halo Rise will be mostly automated. It will detect when you lie down so you don’t need to tell it you started sleeping. It can detect when you get up and start a number of Alexa-based routines to help you start your day.
The new bedside clock and light will cost $139.99 (regional prices TBA) and will come with six months of Amazon’s Halo health and fitness services. Presumably the light will still work if you don’t keep paying for service.
Fire TV Omni QLED – A step closer to the cutting edge
Amazon Fire television sets have never been known for cutting edge picture quality and technology. They’ve been a bargain TV with full access to Amazon’s suite of Prime and Alexa services. Focused on Quantum Dot technology, the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED series gives you the color sharpness of QLED with other advanced features like full-array local dimming.
Amazon’s new TVs also support Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive, which, along with the local dimming, should improve black levels and contrast on the set, healing one of our biggest complaints about previous Amazon Fire TV Omni sets.
The Omni Fire TV QLED series comes in two sizes. You can preorder today the 65-inch for $799 or the 75-inch for $1099 (regional prices and availability TBA).
Echo Dot with a clock – Don’t skip the purple dinosaur
Amazon has improved the sound quality on its latest fifth generation of Echo Dot, which the company says will distort 50% less (whatever that means), and will deliver twice the bass (now we’re talking). There is a plain flavor of Dot and new Echo Dot with Clock that uses a dot matrix display that can side-scroll information, including track info about whatever music you’re hearing.
What’s most important are the new Echo Dot 5th Gen Kids Edition speakers, which feature a purple dragon character or a somewhat adorable owl. If you’d rather your kids speak to cartoons than Alexa, Amazon has you covered, as well as your Echo Dots.
In addition to the Echo Dot, Echo Studio owners will find their devices sound a bit better thanks to upgrades Amazon has made to the speaker’s spatial audio processing. Amazon says everything will sound “closer to the listener,” with improved sound quality across the board.
The Echo Dot will cost $49.99 / £54.99, while the Echo Dot with Clock or Echo Dot Kids will cost $59.99 / £64.99.
Echo Auto – Alexa your ride
The Echo Auto device is getting an update with an entirely new look and a new adhesive mount so you can stick it wherever you want Alexa to live in your car. The Echo Auto has five microphones to eliminate all of the ambient noise a car ride creates.
You can set up Echo Auto to control your music and make calls, and you can yell for roadside assistance if you need. Amazon will send someone to change a tire or fill your car with gas if you manage to strand yourself, in addition to other services.
We’re not sure when the new device will be available, but the updated Echo Auto 2 will cost $55 when it’s launched. The roadside assistance does not require a subscription, you simply pay for services as you demand them.
Fire TV Cube and Alexa Voice Remote Pro – Talk to things and they talk back
The Fire TV Cube (3rd generation) gets serious about performance, especially if you’re streaming content in the highest resolution possible. It adds support for Wi-Fi 6E and an Ethernet port so you can connect to faster home networks, giving you the bandwidth you need.
There’s also a new HDMI input, and when you plug a device into the Fire TV Cube it will let you use Alexa voice commands to control whatever you’ve connected. You can control a cable box or a video game console this way.
The new Alexa Voice Remote Pro comes with a built in speaker, and you can locate it by calling out “Alexa, find my remote,” or by using the Fire TV app. The remote speaker will ring so you can find it.
The Fire TV Cube and the Alexa Voice Remote Pro are available for pre-order today. The Cube is $139.99 and the Remote Pro is $34.99.
Ring Spotlight Cam and Ring Alarm Panic Button – Radar for the home
Ring has stepped up its light-augmented security camera offerings with a new Ring Spotlight Cam Pro and a mid-range Spotlight Cam Plus. The new Pro model adds RADAR capabilities to the home security lineup, in addition to the standard motion sensor and very loud siren. Using radar tracking, the Spotlight Cam Pro can work with your other RIng devices to map an intruder’s path across your property.
The Ring Spotlight Cam Plus doesn’t upgrade the feature set of the original Spotlight Cam, but it does package everything in a much nicer bundle. The sleek new light still features two-way talk, color night vision, and other Ring Spotlight features.
Both the Spotlight Cam Plus and Cam Pro are available with a variety of power options, including a solar kit. The Spotlight Cam Pro costs $229.99 / £199.99 for the battery or plug-in version, and $249.99 (UK pricing to come later) for the solar kit. The Spotlight Cam Plus will start at $199.99 / £179.99 for the battery or plug-in.
If you want to set off every alarm in your house, the Ring Alarm Panic Button (2nd Gen) will show intruders just how many security devices you own. For $29.99 / £29.99 you can install a Panic Button that will also call your emergency contacts and even request emergency assistance from first responders.
Astro – Understanding your home and its inhabitants
It may be hard to get your hands on an Amazon Astro robot, but Amazon is plugging ahead with upgrades that make the little thing more useful as a security device and a home companion. The robot can now recognize doors and windows and can check whether they are open or closed. For businesses, it can investigate an incident while a professional monitors its camera, then call the authorities if needed.
At home, Astro can now recognize pets. It won’t take your dog for a walk or shoot a laser pointer for your cat to chase, but it will take short videos of your pets and send them to you. If it’s cute, you can do nothing, but if it’s destructive you can call the authorities, if needed.
Amazon is constantly updating Astro, and it is learning how to recognize your furniture, and also how to check the level of your pet’s food. The Astro robot costs $999.99, though Amazon will eventually jack the price up to $1499.99. Astro is available by invitation only.
Eero in Echo – Your Echo devices form a net
Amazon owns Eero, a company that makes Wi-Fi extender and Wi-Fi mesh devices. Now it is bringing some of those features to its Echo speakers, both new and old. The new Echo Dot (5th Gen), the current Amazon Echo (2020) and the previous Echo Dot (2020) can now work together to boost the Wi-Fi signal around your house.
This is an exciting new feature, and a great way to take advantage of the Wi-Fi capabilities already on board the Echo Dot. We love Wi-Fi mesh networking as a way to boost signal, and we know that Echo Dot devices often see a price cut for Prime Day, making this a great target for bargain tech shopping.
Fire TV on Echo Show 15 – An old school kitchen TV
The Echo Show 15 is a nice smart display to have in the kitchen or around the house. It could already play Amazon Prime video, and Amazon says this was a very popular way to use the device. Now owners will be able to use the full suite of Fire TV features, including an expanded list of streaming channels, on the Echo Show 15, making it much more like the small, old school TV we used to gather around for dinner time in the days of sitcoms and network TV.
By Philip Berne