As you probably know by now, Amazon went cray-cray and released a huge stack of hardware devices aimed at getting Alexa into every aspect of your life… Echo toilet? Let’s do it! Some of the devices were anticipated and others weren’t. Some make sense and others… well, maybe don’t (Alexa powered microwave).
A few technical glitches aside, the reveal went smoothly and was well received by the public. So, will Amazon sell all of this stuff? Of course. The new Echo Dot will be in every stocking and the Show will be under more trees than ever anticipated.
Amazon’s top seller, the Dot, now has a cloth finish (I guess they liked Google’s Home line) and better sound for the same price. You can go check out the other changes yourself here. Oh, yeah, the Echo Plus has been redesigned, sports a better speaker and has an internal temperature sensor (that sensor is pretty cool – think fans turned on automatically if room temperature is too hot).
The attack on Sonos
Amazon is going directly at Sonos with the launch of the Echo Sub (brings bass to your Echo or Echo Plus speaker ecosystems), the Echo Link (make your dumb stereo smart), Echo Link Amp (same as Link, but with an amp and speaker outs), and the Echo Input (Add Alexa to External speaker through 3.5mm jack or bluetuth).
All four of these make sense. Amazon is attacking here from two directions. One, improve the overall sound quality of your existing Echo system by adding a sub and enabling the new stereo mode. This will compete against the Sonos Sub, Sonos One (Alexa built in) combo. There is no way the Echo products will sound as good as Sonos, but it’s a fraction of the price – they’ll sell a crap load of these Sub/Echo Plus solutions.
The second approach is to ‘upgrade’ your non-connected home stereo. If you already love your speakers or have portable, self-powered speakers sitting around, Amazon wants to bring them into the fold. Nothing, literally nothing, in your home will not have Alexa options in the next few years. That’s smart.
But I miss YouTube
The new Echo Show finally looks good. It’s big (10″ screen), has improved sound, improved 8-mic/far-field technology, and some awesome smart home options – my favorite being the ability to have two-way conversations through a security camera. Amazon also announced a new partnership with Skype for video calls and even more integration with Ring cams.
Give the Clock Some Love
Seriously, stop laughing at the clock. Sure, it feels dorky and useless, but this thing can be huge.
OK, this first iteration of the clock is almost useless, but it won’t be for long. Think about it – we love clocks in our homes and analog clocks are still super popular. There is a nostalgic quality to it and it’s useful – It’s a clock. Amazon wants to be everywhere and clocks are, well, everywhere.
So, why is this a badass product? IF Amazon takes it seriously, your clock will be able to do much more than just show time remaining on your timer. Other features I want to see:
- Light notification of a calendar event. If I have an event at 3pm, I should see the 3 somehow highlighted on the clock. Maybe it flashes 15 minutes ahead to grab your attention.
- Lights that indicate weather. Maybe temperature related colors – red lights means it will be hot today – blue means rain.
- Birthday indicator. Again, this is a clock – it should know calendar/time related events and show me.
- Used as a notification device based on just about any ‘trigger.’ From the app, I should be able to setup the clock to flash lights if my phone rings, someone is at my front door, etc.
As you can see, it’s not just about being a clock – it’s about being a visual communication device that’s high on your well and can easily attract your attention. It’s a no brainer and I hope Google comes out with something similar.
Although many of the new devices from Amazon are cool (I didn’t even cover them all here) and their third party product integration is extraordinary, it wasn’t enough for me to consider trashing my Google based smart home. The battle will continue. From Google, I’m hoping they release a good smartwatch (that Series 4 Apple Watch is impressive), open up Google Assistant to more third party hardware manufacturers, and up their display game (the Lenovo Smart Display is a great start).
October 9th better be good.