Despite the repeated reports of doom, gloom, and reorganisation inside Amazon’s hardware division, that hasn’t stopped the company from moving forward with its vision for the “ambient home.” At its streamed live event overnight in Virginia, Amazon announced a bevy of new connected products for its Echo lineup, it also shared some of the work it’s been attempting behind the scenes with its LLMs to make Alexa more conversational as you turn your smart home devices on and off.
Amazon’s other efforts joined in the deluge of announcements. There are new Fire tablets and Fire TV sticks. Eero launched a new Wi-Fo 7-enabled router. It is not the first router to hit the market with the capability, but the spec has yet to be widely adopted, so consider this one future-proofed.
But that aside, there’s only one or two things coming to Australia. We sometimes wonder if Amazon wonders why no one gives a hoot about its products down under – it’s giving us half-assed attempts and probably blaming Google for its Aussie smart home stranglehold. Anyway, here’s what was announced and whether or not Amazon is bothering with bringing it to Australia.
Echo Show 8 – NO
The last-gen Echo Show 8 launched in 2021. The Echo Show 8 offers “room adaptation” technology to figure out how to deliver sound and make music sound its best. The new Echo Show 8 is a bit more bulbous, but at least it’s well-equipped. There’s a 13-megapixel camera for video calls with improved background noise muffling capabilities. The Echo Show 8 has all the requisite connections for the smart home, including Matter, Zigbee, Bluetooth, Thread, and Sidewalk, which Amazon uses as its internal mesh network to let you know how close your package is to arriving.
Amazon also says the Echo Show 8 runs an “improved processor” that can handle smart home commands up to 40% faster than its predecessor.
While it’s not coming to Australia, ‘Adaptive Content’ is coming to existing Echo Show 8 (2nd generation) devices.
Echo Hub – YES
And now, the successor to the Echo Show 15—or that’s what it seems like at first glance. The Echo Hub is an Alexa-enabled smart home “control panel.” It’s meant to be a universal controller for adjusting the lights, checking on security feeds, and peeking at information like a communal shopping list. Like the Echo Show 15, it can be mounted on the wall or stand up with an additional accessory.
The Echo Hub has all the current-gen smart home connectivity built into it, including Matter, but it doesn’t have a camera, making this solely a smart home-specific product. Amazon also enabled a way to wire the Echo Hub to connect via ethernet rather than relying exclusively on wifi. The Echo Hub will cost $329 and should be out in time for holiday shopping.
Echo Frames – NO
The new Echo Frames introduces five new styles, are prescription-ready, and offer blue light lenses to encourage you to wear them more often than not. Some models come styled by Carrera Eyewear, so no one immediately notices you’re wearing a computer.
Amazon says this new generation of specs is 15% slimmer, with up to six hours of battery on a full charge and faster parsing for Alexa commands. The Echo Frames will start at $US270.
Eero Max 7 – NO
Sure, the Eero Max 7 is the fastest Eero yet, but not even the new iPhone 15 supports the new Wi-Fi standard. It’s that new. It makes a nice tagline for Eero, one of the market’s more popular mesh router offerings. The Max 7 connects to Wi-Fi 7, offers Eero’s proprietary dynamic routing algorithms, and features 10 Gigabit speeds.
The Eero Max 7 supports 2.4, 5, and 6 Ghz radio bands with promises of wireless speeds up to 4.6 Gbps and wired speeds up to 9.4 Gbps. It has four Ethernet ports, two of each for two major speed variants: 2.5 Gigabit and 10 Gigabit. Eero also advertises a Wi-Fi range of up to 7,500 square feet with a three-pack of nodes or 2,500 square feet with a single one.
The Eero Max 7 will cost $US600 for one node, $US1,150 for two, and $US1,700 for three. The Max 7 isn’t the most affordable networking device, but that’s the price to pay for early adoption.
Fire TV – YES (But also NO)
For living room entertainment setups, Amazon announced two new Fire TV Sticks. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max costs $119. It’s speedier and features support for Wi-Fi 6E. The regular Fire TV 4K costs $79. It introduces support for Wi-Fi 6 and comes with an updated processor that the company says is “30% more powerful” than the previous model.
Amazon announced the Fire TV Soundbar alongside its dongle brethren. The two-channel Fire TV Soundbar offers Dolby Audio in a 24-inch package. This isn’t coming down under, though.
Echo Pop Kids – NO
Children are a big part of Amazon’s business, so enter the Echo Pop Kids. It’s a smart speaker covered in branded characters so that it doesn’t seem as foreboding as a regular Echo Dot in the corner of the room. Disney’s Princesses and Marvel’s Avengers are the first franchises featured on the Echo Pop. They include access to exclusive audiobooks and easter eggs and start at $US50.
Amazon also updated the Fire HD 10 Kids tablet, and now they’re split by age groups: Fire HD 10 Kids for three to seven-year-olds and Fire HD 10 Kids Pro for up to their pre-teen years. Amazon says these 10.1-inch tablets will feel lighter and 25% faster than the previous generations. ($US190.)
Elsewhere, Amazon spent some time talking about the improvements it’s made in the background to its digital assistant. Alexa will eventually be updated to the company’s new LLM, which will enable the assistant to be more conversational. Alexa will also be better at handling multiple requests and commands for third-party devices. Amazon plans to release a preview in the coming months.
So, Australia is getting two new Fire TV Sticks (which we like) and Echo Hub. Sorry for wasting your time.
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