The tech launch season is fully upon us, and we’ve already seen new devices from Samsung and Apple. But now it’s time for Amazon. That means new Echo smart speakers and screen, Ring doorbells and cams, Eero routers and most certainly a few surprises.
Last year at the 2019 Amazon Devices event, a monstrous amount of devices were announced. Don’t remember, we’ll remind you: We got Echo 3rd Gen, Echo Dot with Clock, Echo Studio, Echo Flex, Echo Buds, Echo Frames, Echo Show, Ring’s Indoor Cam and Stick Cam and the all new Eero mesh system.
And for 2020 Amazon has plenty of new devices. Dave Limp, Amazon’s SVP of Devices, opened up the event by announcing that all of the new devices being announced are built from 100% recycled fabric and 100% recycled die cast aluminum. There’s also a low power mode to reduce energy consumption in each device, with some previous models set to received an update.
Amazon focused in on Echo, Ring, Fire TV, Eero and Alexa at the event. Let’s break down all the new devices arriving this year.
- Echo Fourth-Generation ($99.99; amazon.com)
- Echo Dot Fourth-Generation ($49.99; amazon.com)
- Echo Dot with Clock Second-Generation ($59.99; amazon.com)
- Echo Dot Kids Edition ($59.99; amazon.com)
- Echo Show 10 ($249.99; amazon.com)
- Eero 6 (Starting at $129.99; amazon.com)
- Eero Pro 6 (Starting at $229.99; amazon.com)
- Fire TV Stick ($39.99; amazon.com)
- Fire TV Stick Lite ($29.99; amazon.com)
For the most part, Amazon’s core Echo has stayed a tall vertical cylinder. But the Echo is going somewhere different. It’s spherical and looks like a mini Death Star. It represents a full redesign from the ground up, but it still maintains the most important part of any Echo: Alexa integration.
This fourth-generation Echo smart speaker features six far-field microphones that work to pick up your voice and clearly hear it. Those audio inputs are paired with two main audio outputs. Powering the sound on the spherical Echo is a 3-inch woofer and dual-firing tweeters. Dolby Atmos processing is on board for a vibrant mix with clear lows, mids and highs. You can connect out to other speakers via a 3.5-mm audio port (and it supports Bluetooth).
Plus, for the first time outside the Echo Studio (Amazon’s high-end $199 smart speaker), this Echo features adaptive sound. Essentially it will intelligently listen to how the audio is flowing in the room and make adjustments for the best mix possible.
But, as expected, the story goes beyond just audio. Powering this Echo is Amazon’s first-generation AZ1 Neural Edge processor — essentially a silicon chip that Amazon designed in partnership with MediaTek. The core purpose and feature-set is designed to accelerate machine learning applications. The biggest improvement? The time it takes to process your voice (before it gets sent off to the cloud.
And Amazon is combining the previous Echo and Echo Plus into this Echo. That means all of the extra smart home features — like ZigBee, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Amazon Sidewalk –— are all integrated here. So you’ll get easy pairing with an array of smart devices (lights, door locks, outlets and more) with just the Echo and no need for an additional hub. The classic Alexa action and mute buttons are still here. And this incorporates a tap-to-snooze function.
In terms of size, it should be wider than the current Echo but much shorter at just shy of 6-inches. It will be a unique shape for sure and it comes in three colors: Charcoal, Glacier White and a Twilight Blue. All of these feature a “homey” fabric design and are made from 100% recycled products. The classic LED ring light now sits on the bottom, opposed to the top, and should reflect off the surface the Echo lives on with a nice glow.
Alongside a circular and spherical fourth-generation Echo, we have the fourth-gen Echo Dot and second-gen Echo Dot with Clock. Priced at $49.99 and $59.99, respectively, these both represent a whole new design for the Echo Dot family.
Like the bigger Echo, both of these features a fabric outer shell that’s made from 100% recycled fabric. Both Dots will be available in Glacier White and Twilight Blue. The normal Dot will also come in Charcoal. They’re smaller than the Echo at just 12-ounces in weight and measuring in at just 4-inches tall. There’s also a single 1.6-inch front-firing driver inside. We expect the sound from Echo Dot and Dot with Clock to be on-par with previous generations. The 3rd Gen model brought big improvements to sound, so we hope that is the case again.
To communicate easily with Alexa, there are four far-field microphones onboard both of these. The AZ1 processor is inside the Echo Dot and Dot with Clock as well. The classic microphone mute and Alexa call buttons now sit on top, while the LED glowing light has been moved to the bottom of the device.
The tap-to-snooze function will be on both of these Dots as well. The LED display can also be used to show off animations for the weather, act as a time and display the temperature.
Echo Dot Kids Edition: Now featuring Tiger or Panda designs
Also along for the ride is the Echo Dot Kids Edition. For starters, it matches the same design as the new Echo Dot, but is cheaper than the previous Kids Edition at just $59.99 (and available for preorder now).
You get the brand new spherical design and all the power of Alexa, while also giving you a year of Amazon Kids+. Plus, the new color options are epic: You can pick from a Tiger or Panda design. They look dope and we have a feeling a lot of adults might opt for these, as well.
New to this generation is the ability to create a Kids Profile. And with this turned on, Alexa can identify if a kid is speaking to it and properly adjust its responses to be a bit more child-friendly. There’s a Reading Sidekick skill which will let Alexa read along with your child and also provide positive encouragement. The latter could be especially helpful with many kids learning from home. Both features will be available across all Alexa devices.
As the name suggests, the Eero 6 is the new entry point at $129 for one, $199 for two and $279 for three. With two or more your Eero system will act as a mesh Wi-Fi system (see our guide here), which essentially intelligently pushes connected devices between the different nodes. The main Eero will plug into your modem or direct internet line and then broadcast out to the other Eeros. In this new generation, we’re getting Wi-Fi 6 support and the ability to cover over 75 devices at once. The Eero 6 also acts as a Zigbee hub for easy smart home device connection. In fact, it eliminates the need to go out and buy a separate hub.
Let’s talk about coverage. A single Eero 6 covers up to 1,500 square feet, two reach up to 3,000 square feet and three will cover up to 5,000 square feet. Truth be told though, the two-pack also includes a new mesh Wi-Fi extender and the three comes with two of those extenders. No matter how many Eero 6s you have in your mesh system, they will only be dual-band. There’s not much different with Wi-Fi extender either, they’ve kept the same design and removed the ethernet port.
If you want a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 enabled mesh router, then the Eero Pro 6 should be your choice. The Pro 6 not only delivers tri-band for faster Wi-Fi performance and easy device switching, but it covers more ground. A single Pro 6 node covers 2,000 square feet, two covers up to 3,500 square feet and three cover up to 6,000 square feet. Talk about whole-home coverage. The big advantage of tri-band is more room for devices to roam. Essentially you get a 2.4GHz, 5GHz and another 5GHz band. The Pro 6 costs $229 for one, $399 for two or $599 for three.
And like the Eeros before these two, there are some special features. For instance, Alexa is deeply integrated and you can simply say, “Alexa, start a guest network.” It’s pretty handy and for Amazon devices, they auto-connect to your Wi-Fi network. It’s important to remember that all Eeros run on the same operating system. That also means the Eero 6 and Pro 6 will integrate with Apple’s HomeKit system, allowing for more control and security of connected devices.
The just-announced $249.99 Echo Show 10 looks similar to the Nest Hub Max, but the screen is on a Motor. So now the display can turn to your voice and use the motor to angle the display towards you. The Echo Show 10 is also powered by the AZ1 Neural Processor.
The screen is a 10-inch display with a 13-megapixel camera on the top bezel. It can track you and make sure you’re always in the frame. You can physically cover that front facing lens with a shutter as well. And that screen is essentially floating but mounted onto a base that resembles an Echo Studio. For audio (calls and music), you get a 2.1 audio system with adaptive sound.
Fans of video calls will appreciate the ability for group calls here. And for streaming video, Netflix is joining the party alongside Prime Video and Hulu. It seems the Echo Show 10 is becoming more about being an effortless experience that works in a variety of situations — calls, communication and entertainment.
Notably, for smart home fans, the smarts from the standard Echo will be arriving inside the Echo Show 10. The ability to move the screen on the Echo Show 10 also works in a sentry mode. Essentially, if it picks up on motion it can turn to see what’s going on.
Our biggest qualm with Fire TV — the clumsy and annoying interface of rows — is being a bit streamlined. Alexa is able to shine bright without blocking the full screen. From what we saw, digitally, the interface throws a bit less at you. Profiles are also arriving, this way if the Fire TV is being used by a family, each member can have his or her own custom interface.
Alongside a new interface, Amazon is launching Luna – a new game streaming service that will be available on Fire TV and PC. It’s built on top of AWS (Amazon Web Servers). The focus on this is a low latency experience that delivers fun games across genres. We’re digging for more information on this and will report back. Luna is not free ($5.99 a month), but features legacy games like Sonic Mani and Control, to name two. Ubisoft is partnering with Amazon here for some big titles like Assassin’s Creed. Amazon is developing a Luna Controller as well that looks a lot like any other gaming controller. The controller links directly into the game cloud to reduce latency, which Amazon calls “cloud direct technology.” The Luna Controller will cost $49.99.
And there are new Fire TV streamers. The Fire TV Stick is staying at $39.99, but gets two big boosts. The Alexa voice remote has a few extra buttons that deliver TV controls. Yes, that means one remote for volume and power to your home entertainment setup. And there’s a faster processor inside that Amazon says should deliver a 50% more powerful experience. It’s still an HD only streamer but supports Dolby Atmos. It will run the new Fire TV interface at launch.
For $29.99, the Fire TV Stick Lite is the new entry point. It’s paired an Alexa voice remote that lacks TV controls. Amazon also claims this is the most powerful streaming device under $30. We will put that to the test.
Ring Always Home Camera: Yes, a flying camera to patrol your home
You might be reminded of a post-apocalyptic movie, but Ring’s Always Home Camera is an autonomous flying indoor camera that will patrol a set path in your house. From the images, it looks like a Ring doorbell strapped to a drone. It has a home base, which it will take off from and land at, while also acting as a charger. It will launch in 2021 for $249.99.
We had the chance to chat with Jordan Metzner, a Senior Manager at Ring, to discuss the Always Home Camera. He’s been working on the product for a bit and was quick to note that the idea for the device came from customers “looking for the ability to have multiple view points within [a] home, but not the need to have so many devices.” It’s safe to say that you could get those view points from a plethora of stand alone cameras, but the Always Home Camera gives you the ability to move on demand, via predetermined routes.
The Ring Always Home will fly around your house based on pre-learned routes. It works like a Roomba in this context and in our chat we learned that in training mode only the sensors will be on. Camera, motor and propellers will be off. Essentially you’ll hold it and walk around to create a path. In this learning mode the camera will be off and it will be using multiple sensors (including obstacle avoidance) to learn your home. You also get the ability to create multiple paths.
When can it fly around your home? Well, it can only be engaged when the Ring Security System is armed away. Let’s say your Ring Doorbell picks up unexpected motion at the front door, the Ring Always Home Cam can fly to that area closest to the sensor or device going off. It will then give you a birds eye view of the situation and this arrives via the Ring app for Android or iOS.
On the privacy front, it only records when in motion and Ring says it’s quite loud, dubbing it “privacy you can hear.” The camera lens is physically blocked when it is in the charging base. In terms of speed the Always Home Cam moves about three feet a second and can only sustain a flight time of about five minutes. We’ll report back with more on the Ring Always Home Camera in the coming months.
Ring expands to the car
Ring pretty much has you covered from the outside in when it comes to the home. Now, they’re expanding to the car. And it arrives in the form of three products.
First up is the Ring Car Alarm, which is a $59.99 device that plugs into your car’s OBD-II port. It has wireless components inside, allowing it to alert the owner, via the Ring app, of what’s going on. It’s not arriving until 2021, so specifics are a little far off, but essentially it will allow you to trigger your car’s alarm from afar in the event something goes wrong. Amazon mentions it can alert owners of a break-in or bumps, so we imagine there are some sensors on board. It also connects via Amazon Sidewalk, a public network that is operated by Amazon and available to customers for free.
Second is the Ring Car Cam, Amazon’s version of a dashcam. It will also launch in 2021 for $199.99. There’s a blue ring around the camera lens so you’ll know when it’s recording. It can start recording if a crash or bump is detected. Better yet, if you want to record a traffic stop, you can say “Alexa, I’m being pulled over” and it will record the interaction. And if you don’t want the camera recording, you can hit a button to physically cover the camera and electronically disable the hardware.
Lastly, Ring has the Car Connect API, which integrates software and a physical hardware attachment that plugs into the vehicle. It’s first launching for the Tesla Model S, 3, X and Y. With it enabled, you’ll get content like video footage, vehicle status info and events visible in the Ring app for Android and iOS. Notably, with Teslas, you’ll be able to watch Sentry Mode directly in the Ring app.