September 21, 2018
Last night, Amazon unveiled the latest in its line of Alexa-powered devices. From a wall clock to a power point to a microwave, all of these voice activated products are designed to respond to your spoken whims and desires – plus integrate the Amazon infrastructure furthermore into your daily routine, naturally.
The lineup was eclectic, to say the least. While some old favorites have been updated – the Echo range has been revised with better speakers – there were also some rather left-field choices. A voice activated microwave doesn’t seem like an obvious must-have, while Amazon also revealed a wall clock that can be linked to your existing Alexa devices.
It seems that Amazon won’t rest until everything in your home can be activated with a few key commands. We take a look at the lineup. Sorry, I mean ‘Alexa. Show me the lineup’.
Latest Alexa Products
- Compact design
- Dedicated popcorn button
- Small capacity
- Feels gimmicky
- Requires existing Echo device
- Cheap entry price
- 8 microphones
- Keeps your eyes on road
- Limited availability
- Requires Smartphone with Alexa
Echo Wall Clock
What does it do? Like the AmazonBasics Microwave, the Echo Wall Clock doesn’t have its own integrated Alexa functionality. Instead, it connects to your existing Echo device.
Once hooked up, you can set multiple alarms and change the time with voice commands.
Is it worth it? Amazon is pitching the Echo Wall Clock at families who need to organize, and it seems that’s a smart move.
We all have voice activated clocks in our pockets already, with most smartphones capable of these features. The bonus of the clock is that it be seen by everyone and it’s not hard to imagine using it to usher kids along with their breakfast or as a reminder to take the dog for a walk.
The one aspect that could make or break it is the battery life of the clock. The smart functionality could be power drain, and nobody is going to want to replace their wall clock battery every other week.
Updated Echo Dot and Echo Plus
What do they do? Amazon’s Echo speakers have been given a little upgrade. although it’s nothing groundbreaking.
Amazon claims that the Echo Plus and Echo Dot speakers have now been improved and are capable of louder volumes. This is good news for those that favour the Echo Dot especially, which could be a bit tinny if you pushed it too far.
With a reported 70% volume increase over the previous model, it’s a substantial improvement for Amazons plucky little puck. However, it still won’t have the power to keep a party banging. But don’t worry, Amazon has another product to sell you for that.
The other improvement, and I hope you’re sitting down for this one, is an improved fabric design. Phew.
The Plus introduces what Amazon is calling local voice commands. These will still work even if you lose internet. Commands are limited at the moment (an example is controlling the lights), but Amazon intends to add more in the future.
Are they worth it? If you own an older Dot or Plus. there’s little reason to upgrade, unless you’re desperate for a little more volume. For those that have been toying with the idea of picking up a Dot or Plus for a while, now is the time to jump in.
Price: The pricing remains the same for the two new Echo devices, with the Dot costing $49.99, and the Plus $149.99
- Large, 10-inch screen
- Improved speaker
- Compatible with home hub devices
- Can’t watch YouTube
What does it do? The Echo Input is a thin, disc-like device that connects to existing speakers, via a 3.5mm cable or Bluetooth. It then provides a full Alexa experience without the expense of an Echo.
Is it worth it? Being able to turn any old speaker into an Echo-like device with the Echo Input is a welcome addition to the Echo lineup for those that want to upgrade their existing equipment.
If you’re rocking a solid home stereo system, and wish that you could add Alexa to it for playing your Amazon music collection, here’s your solution.
What does it do? No, it’s not a delicious sandwich, but a wireless sub woofer for use with your existing Amazon Echo device.
Hook this up, and boost the bass and volume from your Dot, Plus or other Echo enabled gadget.
Is it worth it? The Echo range isn’t known for its deep bass and volume. The Echo Sub should help you turn it up to 11 and get the music pumping with a bit more oomph than before. If you’ve already got a decent stereo system, then the Echo Input is the better (and cheaper) device for you, but otherwise this is a decent choice.
What does it do? The Echo Link and Link Amp are designed to stream music through your home on existing audio equipment. Connect the Link to your stereo or other Echo devices and stream high fidelity music, controllable by voice or with the Alexa app. The Link Amp is the same device, but built into a 60w amplifier to boost your speakers.
Is it worth it? For music buffs, there’s bound to be a degree of excitement about the Echo Link and Link Amp, especially as they’re priced competitively.
The Sonos solution to this problem, the Sonos Amp, is priced at $600. While we’ll have to see how they fair when pitched against each other, Amazon has certainly nailed the price.
Price: $199.99 for the Echo Link, $299.99 for the Amp
Amazon Smart Plug
What does it do? It’s a plug. And it’s smart. Plug any device into this plug and you’ll be able to control it with Alexa voice commands and program accordingly.
Plug a lamp in for example, and you’ll be able to turn it off and on and will using your voice, or program it to come on at certain times of the day.
Is it worth it? While plug timers are nothing new, being able to control the Smart Plug via Alexa is a neat addition and a lot more versatile than traditional timers.
Being able to add voice command functionality to ‘dumb’ products is a nice touch, and it’s easy to imagine plenty of scenarios where this could be useful. For example, if you’re on holiday you could set up lights to come on in the evening as a burglar deterrent, and control them remotely.
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