Amazon held a media event in its hometown of Seattle on Thursday morning. Just like nearly every other consumer tech announcement this year, Amazon’s extravaganza was a virtual affair, with company executives speaking over a livestream instead of to a room full of reporters.
The company unleashed a flood of hardware in about an hour, including new Alexa devices, new Echo speakers devices, and some very curious new Ring devices. We’ve rounded up the highlights for you below.
Meet the New Echo Orbs
First up is a new Echo speaker. Where older Echoes were cylindrical, this new Echo is an orb. The spheroid gray blob is the new home for Alexa, Amazon’s ubiquitous voice assistant. It’s also home to a bit of bespoke silicon, a new chip Amazon calls the AZ1 Neural Edge processor. With this new chip inside, the Alexa service will be able to recognize speech more quickly, allowing the voice assistant to respond to questions and requests with greater speed. The new (fourth-gen) Echo will cost $100 when it comes out on October 22.
We like the look. Round is good. And the design is oddly reminiscent of the Nexus Q, though the new Echo will likely see far more success than Google’s ill-fated streaming player (which was killed before it even shipped).
More Orbs, More Alexa
We see that soft, organic orb shape echoed in the new Echo Dot ($60), which has a clock on its face like one of last year’s Dots. The revamped Echo Dot Kids Edition ($60) is, of course, also an orb, and comes with some insanely cute tiger and panda faces. Soon, your kids’ new Tiger Ball Friend will be able to read to them with a new Reading Sidekick feature. Amazon’s FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited subscriptions, which give you a bundle of kids software and services, are now called Amazon Kids and Kids+.
The new Echo 10 ($250) is not so spherical, and doesn’t yet have a release date. It uses cameras to slowly pivot to face you on its mushroom stalk, and adds improved video calling features like digital panning, group calling, Zoom, and Amazon Chime.