Amazon held a hardware event last night, releasing a pile of new products to drive home automation. The Echo range received a massive boost but a number of other accessories including cameras, smartplugs and even a microwave oven. And while not every product will make it to Australia - we won't be getting the microwave oven for now - there's enough in this announcement for Amazon to be declared the current leader in smart home gear.
New And Updated Echo Devices
All the new Echo devices have received a facelift with the hard edges replaced with a rounded finish that is reminiscent of the Apple HomePod.
Amazon says they basically started over in creating the new Echo Dot. While it keeps the Bluetooth and 3.5mm inputs for sound, it gets a new, louder speaker that delivers better output and looks far more elegant. The price stays the same at $79 and you can pre-prder it today for delivery next month.
If you already have great speakers and don't want to replace them, the Echo Input was also announced but it's not currently listed on the Australian site. It boasts a microphone array for receiving instructions but connects to existing speakers, making them smarter.
The Echo Plus ($229) gets an upgrade with better sound. But it also gets a temperature sensor that can be used to trigger other connected devices.
For those who want better bass from their sound there's the Echo Sub. The $199 Echo Sub boasts a 100W 6-inch woofer and can be paired with either one Echo or Echo Plus or two of the same Echo (2nd Gen) or Echo Plus (2nd Gen) devices for left/right stereo sound.
The 10-inch display on the updated Echo Show lets you view photos, album covers when listening to your favourite tracks through the speaker and watch video content from Amazon Prime and other sources.
What Else Did Amazon Announce?
Amazon also announced several other products that aren't currently listed for our market. As we all as the AmazonBasics microwave oven (Alexa, cook my dinner!) which will cost just US$60 there's an Echo Wall Clock, a multi-room speaker amp so Amazon can try to start cutting Sonos' lunch, a smart plug so you can use Alexa with almost any device in your home that uses electricity and the Ring Stick Up cam - an indoor/outdoor security camera with 1080p video, night vision, motion detection and IPX5 water resistance.
What Does this All Mean
Amazon Apple and Google have been battling it out for control of the smart home market for some time. Apple's relatively closed approach has relegated it to third place as there are far fewer supported devices and they tend to be more expensive than similar options supported by Google and Amazon.
Google is playing their usual game of offering their own products but opening up their platform to all an sundry.
Amazon has a foot in both camps. They are producing great hardware of their own as well as allowing a massive number of third parties to play in their garden. At the moment, Amazon's commitment to a broad array of hardware, albeit one that is still limited here, as well as working with third parties makes them the leader of the pack - for now.
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