The latter part of the year is a big time for tech companies, especially those wanting to show off all of their new hardware that we want to spend our money on, but inevitably won’t be able to. A season of technolust and excuses as to why you can no longer afford to give your kid that bike you promised for Christmas because you absolutely needed that new phone/tablet/console.
We’ve already seen big tech announcements from the likes of Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Microsoft, and of course the big gaming next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony. Late last week was amazon’s turn and while we’ve already told you about their upcoming new cloud gaming service, they announced a fair amount f new hardware that once again shows that they are global players in pretty much every little endeavor they pursue.
Much of Amazon’s big hardware announcements focused on the company’s efforts to be the centre of your smart home. New smart speakers, screens, home security devices and ultimately updates to the AI that is the centre of their Skynet initiatives, Alexa.
It’s easily Alexa that probably gets the most attention with Amazon announcing a new AZ1 Neural Edge processor designed exclusively around the Alexa AI with the intended purpose of making the way it processes voice commands faster. Much of the new hardware will utilise these processors to help ensure all devices can communicate with households and become even more integrated than ever before.
Alexa itself has also been enhanced to better listen to multiple people at once and ask clarifying questions if it is not clear about the different queries or commands. Something which is certainly going to be useful and make the AI voice assistant even more lifelike in the way it communicates. It will probably still misunderstand your South African accent repeatedly, but at least it will try and clarify what you were trying to say which is perhaps less frustrating.
To make the best use of an updated Alexa, Amazon is ready to release new versions of its Echo Dot and Echo Dot Clock. The company also showed off a new Spherical Echo device that also functions as a Sidewalk bridge that will feature adaptive sound with full Dolby support. It will come at a significantly higher price of $99 compared to the other Echo devices Echo Dot ($49.99) and Echo Dot Clock ($59.99), but if you want to be a part of Amazon’s Sidewalk initiative and get better sound, it might be worth it for you.
Perhaps one of the more impressive hardware updates belongs to the new Echo Show, which now features a motorised screen that automatically positions itself to face you as you move around the room and interact with it. Something which you will probably end up doing as the Echo Show now supports Netflix. It could create for some interesting tennis spectating manoeuvres if there are multiple people in the room vying for its attention.
Amazon is also bringing out enhancements to its Wi-Fi router Eero range, which will simply just offer faster speeds and better mesh technology. Along with a new Fire Tv stick, with enhanced UI and gaming support. These are fairly minor updates though to previous ranges and perhaps not worth an upgrade if you really don’t need a new device and will be unlikely to lure you to them if you haven’t previously been convinced to get one.
Perhaps the next big focus for Amazon was in the security side of things with new Rings devices. Impressively, Amazon has launched a new security drone which will feature an always-on camera that will autonomously patrol your home when you are not around. It features a dock that it will then return to for recharging before it sets off again for a patrol later on.
It’s a remarkably intuitive home security device, though also one that is also quite creepy considering it is connected to the internet and perhaps not the kind of device you want if you have serious concerns for internet privacy and Amazon already having too much of your data. Especially after they start sending you advertisements for that old TV they notice you have that needs upgrading. The company is promising end-to-end encryption for all of its camera products by the end of the year, so perhaps worth waiting to see how that pans out before looking to spend $250 on one of these.
If you are looking for less invasive security devices though, Amazon has a new range of security cameras for both home and the car, along with an API for car manufactures to integrate their car cameras directly into the Ring platform. Something which we will have to wait and see if any manufacturers or take up that integration.
Overall, there are few revolutionary products from Amazon, but with solid AI improvements, some innovative ideas, and cheap prices. Amazon has a lot to offer especially in how it is specifically targeting the smart home market and looking to integrate itself into people’s lives to become an eco-system that can’t live without.
No, it’s not creepy or disturbing at all
Last Updated: September 28, 2020