New product onslaught confirms Amazon Alexa is a megalomaniac

posted on Friday, 21st September 2018 by Steve May

Amazon Alexa  Smart home  Streaming  Hi-fi 

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Amazon has improved and dramatically expanded its Alexa enabled product line-up at a hardware event in Seattle. There’s a new version of the Echo Show on the way, along with a wireless subwoofer and smart plug. But that’s just the start. Alexa revealed aspirations to take over your music room, your kitchen and your car.

“Alexa, what’s a megalomaniac?”

The new UK launches are intriguing. The upgraded Echo Show (pictured above), with Zigbee built-in, sports a 10-inch HD display and upgraded speaker system. The device, which retails for £220, uses dual side-firing 2-inch Neodymium drivers and a passive bass radiator.
A built-in 5MP camera supports video calling. A Skype application is on the cards.

Amazon has also confirmed new video doorbell integration with Ring doorbell cameras. Customers will be able to say “Alexa, answer the front door” to see and talk to whoever is at the door. Alexa Routines can also play custom announcements, when the front door camera detects movement or the doorbell is rung.

Echo Dot _Lifestyle

Echo Input _2

Similarly, the company has revamped the Echo Dot (£50) with a fabric design (choose from Charcoal, Heather Grey or Sandstone) and improved audio, and is introducing a tweaked version of the Echo Plus (£140), now with a larger 3-inch Neodymium woofer and more welly - it’s said to be 75 per cent louder.

Incoming Alexa expansion devices include the Echo Input (pictured above), a £35 add-on which brings Alexa functionality to existing speakers - basically a speaker-less Echo Dot. Just 12.5mm tall, the Echo Input connects to a speaker through a 3.5mm audio cable or Bluetooth, and features a four-microphone array.

Amazon is also introducing the Echo Sub, a £120 compact wireless bass speaker, which can be used with other Alexa audio devices to create a 1.1 or 1.2 audio solution.

In addition, a £25 Smart Plug can be used to activate non connected devices such as lights, fans and coffee machines. All of the above will be available in the UK.

For US users, there’s an even broader range of compatible kit on the slate. Amazon previewed the Echo Link, a function junction for music sources, and the Echo Link amp, a two-channel 60w hi-fi amplifier.

It’s also bringing Alexa to the automotive market with the Echo Auto dashboard accessory, and entering the TV recorder market with the Fire TV Recast, a DVR that will share its recordings with other Amazon Fire streamers.

Amazon Smart Plug _Lifestyle 3

Echo Plus _Lifestyle

US Amazon users will even be able to buy a low cost Amazon Basics microwave, with Alexa controls and Dash button functionality. There’s no speaker built-in, but it can interact with a local Alexa speaker;  there's even an Alexa wall clock.

"Amazon is doubling down on its strategy of integrating Alexa far and wide into appliances, consumer electronics and cars. It's notable that Amazon is not just relying on pre-integration in new products, but enabling existing home appliances and devices through connectors and adapters in an effort to drive utility and usage," says Geoff Blaber, Vice President Research, Americas, CCS Insight.

“Amazon's announcements are sharp reminders to Apple and Google that Alexa has a significant lead that it is working meticulously to maximize.”

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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