Ama­zon re­designs Echo, in­tro­duces car se­cu­rity

In­door-only drone to take flight next year

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY AMERICA’S MARKETS - Talk­ing Tech Jef­fer­son Gra­ham USA TODAY

Ama­zon un­leashed a slew of new prod­ucts Thurs­day, in­clud­ing an in­door se­cu­rity drone, car se­cu­rity prod­ucts, a re­designed Echo speaker with a spher­i­cal look and a gam­ing ser­vice.

The most rad­i­cal of the prod­ucts is an “in­door only” $249 se­cu­rity drone, Ring Al­ways Home Cam, which Ama­zon says will au­to­mat­i­cally fly to pre­de­ter­mined ar­eas of the home, “giv­ing you mul­ti­ple view­points with just one cam­era that flies around the home.” It will only record when in flight, says Ama­zon, which won’t be re­leas­ing it un­til 2021.

The “all-new” Echo is in a dif­fer­ent, ball shape, touts im­proved au­dio and will sell for $99. The reg­u­lar Dot, which is also spher­i­cal, is priced at $49.99, and both will be avail­able on Oct. 22. A new round $59.99 Dot edi­tion with a clock will be avail­able Nov. 5.

Ama­zon also showed off a re­think of the Echo Show, the Echo unit with a video dis­play. The new $249 Echo Show 10, with a 10-inch screen, is tar­geted to video call­ing, which has taken on new ur­gency in the COVID era. It will be re­leased some­time in the com­ing weeks.

What’s unique about this Echo is that it has a ro­tat­ing base and a screen that “moves with you,” as the cam­era also dig­i­tally pans and zooms as peo­ple move around the room. “Now you can catch up with your fam­ily while mak­ing din­ner – you aren’t stuck in front of your com­puter, or prop­ping your phone up to squeeze into view,” notes Ama­zon.

Pre­vi­ous edi­tions of the Echo Show didn’t sup­port the No. 1 video meet­ing app, but Ama­zon is bring­ing Zoom to Echo later this fall, the com­pany says.

The Echo speak­ers are the crown jewel in Ama­zon’s self-made prod­ucts, with a 53% mar­ket share of the smart speaker mar­ket, com­pared to 31% for Google Nest Home, ac­cord­ing to Voice­, which tracks voice com­put­ing.

Some 87.7 mil­lion peo­ple cur­rently own a smart speaker in the United States, per Voice­bot.

Car se­cu­rity: Ring Car Alarm and more

Ama­zon also an­nounced it’s go­ing to bring its Ring se­cu­rity cam­eras to your car. It said it was the most re­quested fea­ture from Ring fans. How­ever, they won’t be able to see them un­til 2021.

The $59.99 Ring Car Alarm mon­i­tors for im­pacts, break-ins, tows, and more and sends alerts. The $199.99 Ring Car Cam goes fur­ther with a se­cu­rity cam­era for the car that will also send alerts, via the Ring app, if it senses at­tempted break-ins. With the built-in cam­era, driv­ers can get a live view and check-in on the ve­hi­cle and sur­round­ing ar­eas.

A Car Cam fea­ture touted at Ama­zon’s event is “Traf­fic Stop.” If you are pulled over by po­lice, a driver can say, “Alexa, I’m be­ing pulled over,” and the cam­era will start record­ing.

Ama­zon has opened up its cod­ing to other car man­u­fac­tur­ers for what it calls Ring Car Con­nect, a $199.99 de­vice that al­lows driv­ers to watch recorded ve­hi­cle video footage, and mon­i­tor whether the car is locked or un­locked.

Tesla mod­els 3, X, S and Y are the first com­pat­i­ble ve­hi­cles for Ring Car Con­nect.

‘All-new Fire TV Stick’

The other tra­di­tional best seller in the Ama­zon De­vices cat­e­gory is the Fire TV Stick with Alexa, which also sold for around $25, and brings an easy way for TV con­sumers to add stream­ing to their TV sets. Ama­zon says it’s sold over 100 mil­lion Fire TV units.

This year, Ama­zon is promis­ing a new look to Fire TV, which it says will be more per­son­al­ized and cus­tomized with new con­tent-dis­cov­ery fea­tures, en­hanced Alexa voice in­te­gra­tion and user pro­files.

Two new edi­tions of the Fire TV Stick were an­nounced. The “All-new Fire TV Stick,” for $39.99 fea­tures an “en­hanced pro­ces­sor” that’s 50% more pow­er­ful, which means that your Net­flix should load faster. Fire TV Stick Lite gives you less power for $30. Both will be avail­able on Sept. 30.

Ama­zon also said its bring­ing the Zoom video meet­ing to Fire TV cus­tomers, but it may not be easy. They’ll need to con­nect a Log­itech we­b­cam to an ac­ces­sory Fire TV Cube de­vice to make it hap­pen. Zoom sup­port via the TV will launch “at a later date,” Ama­zon says.

Fire TV com­petes with Roku, which has sim­i­larly priced stream­ing de­vices. Both Fire TV and Roku claim 40 mil­lion view­ers, mak­ing both the dom­i­nant play­ers in stream­ing, which also in­cludes Ap­ple and its Ap­ple TV set­top box, and Google, with its Chrome­cast don­gle.

New Luna gam­ing ser­vice

Ama­zon also an­nounced a new gam­ing ser­vice, Luna, charg­ing $5.99 monthly, plus $49.99 for the game con­troller. It will be ac­cessed via the Fire TV Stick.

It could take a while be­fore you get to see it. Ama­zon has launched it for “early ac­cess” un­der an in­vite sys­tem. A ques­tion­naire on Ama­zon’s web­site asks peo­ple to check how fast their in­ter­net speeds are, to list their ZIP code and de­fine how ac­tive a player they are.

New round look for the Echo speak­ers AMA­ZON


The fly­ing Ring in­door se­cu­rity cam­era.

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