It’s been a while since we’ve seen so many products announced at one time from any company.
Amazon announced a slew of new products, including new Echo devices that house Amazon’s smart voice-activated assistant Alexa, as well as some nifty new features.
Business Insider’s Matt Weinberger got some hands-on time with all the new devices, which replace and refresh some older Echo models while also adding brand-new members to the Echo family.
The company also announced a new Fire TV that will make the most of the latest video standards.
Plus, Alexa was also added to a very special fish-related product, which you’ll see at the end of this roundup.
Here’s what we thought of all the new Amazon products announced.
This new Echo is way smaller -- it's only slightly taller than a soda can, and the base fits in your palm. It's hard to gauge in the controlled conditions of an Amazon demo area, but the sound quality does seem noticeably improved from the old model. It also sports a faster processor, which Amazon says makes Alexa's voice recognition better and more reliable.
It also sports a pair of nifty side-perks:
First, you can choose between six casings for your Echo, including a wood veneer and a full fabric covering. If you get bored, you can swap. The casings seem to be high-quality when we looked at them in-person, which is nice if you're going to place the Echo in your living room. Second, unlike the old Echo, this new one sports an auxiliary jack to plug in your own speakers.
The new $US149 Echo Plus keeps the original Echo's design, but it comes with better sound, as well as a built-in smart home hub to control your smart home devices, like smart lightbulbs, smart door locks, and smart thermostats.
The original Echo could also control your smart home devices, but you needed to install the appropriate app, or skill. 'There's no apps, there's no skills, it just works out of the box,' said Dave Limp, Amazon's senior vice president in charge of Alexa.
While we didn't get to try out those smart home smarts, we can attest that the device looks great up close, and wouldn't feel terribly out of place in your kitchen or on a bookshelf. Also, like the all-new Echo, the Plus sports an auxiliary jack for external speakers.
With the Spot, you'll be able to make video calls with its built-in camera and speakers, and it can be connected to speakers using a 3.5mm AUX cord or via Bluetooth. It looks like it could make a great, albeit expensive, bedside alarm.
The Echo Spot also supports certain screen-based apps: You can check your calendar, watch Amazon Prime video, or even read restaurant reviews on Yelp, among other things.
Importantly, Amazon tells us that the Echo Spot will have better sound quality than the Echo Dot -- but you'll still want a $US99 Echo or $US149 Echo Show if you want the music to fill a room.
And yes, you'll be able to dim the screen at night so you can sleep.
Amazon's new $US20 Echo Buttons are glowing single-button devices that come in packs of two. They're designed to be used for simple family-style games like buzzers for trivia games or Simon Says.
The buttons are actually really fun to press, with a satisfying 'click' when you push it down. Plus, they flash pretty colours.
The $US35 Amazon Echo Connect turns any Echo model into a landline phone. It connects to your home's phone jack and to your Echo, and you'll be able to place or receive phone calls using your home's landline number.
Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to try this one out. But it's a really interesting idea that speaks to Amazon's vision of the Echo as a communications device.
Amazon's new $US69 Fire TV streaming box is smaller than previous models, and it can stream video in 4K and HDR, the new dominant standards in ultra-high definition video. You'll be able to control the new Fire TV with your voice using an Echo device.
In a demo, videos were indeed crisp and clear, provided you have a TV that supports 4K and HDR. And giving the device commands via Alexa was smooth, so you can just say 'rewind 20 seconds' or 'play 'Grand Tour.'' Otherwise, it doesn't appear to be vastly different than existing Fire TV models..
With Alexa in BMW and Mini cars, you'll be able to use Alexa in a similar way you would at home with an Echo device. For example, you'll be able to ask Alexa for directions, make phone calls, play music, and control your smart home devices.
We tried using an Echo Dot in a car, which isn't quite the same thing as having Alexa built into the car, but we found it incredibly useful.
Oh thank goodness, we thought the day would never come.
Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa, will be compatible with future versions of Big Mouth Billy Bass, Amazon's David Limp announced on Wednesday.
The new Big Mouth Billy Bass will connect to your Echo via Bluetooth, and it will lip-sync and move to the music playing from your Echo.
The new and Alexa-improved Big Mouth Billy Bass will be available to buy later this year.
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