Amazon’s fall event showcases Astro Home robot, Echo Show 15, and a smart thermostat



It’s early fall, which means it’s time for Amazon to launch a bunch of new smart home gear around the world. The company hasn’t launched any new Alexa speakers this year, and Alexa smart displays and Ring cameras are pretty standard pricing for Amazon, but robots and smart thermostats are whole new territory. Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll be testing several of these devices to see if they’re worth it. In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of what’s to come.

Alexa on Wheels and a Bigger Echo Show

Photo: Amazon

The grand finale of the Amazon event was the reveal of the Amazon Astro, an autonomous domestic robot that, as one Wirecutter editor noted, looks a lot like a mashup of Wall-E and her lover Eve. The Astro has nifty features like a telescoping camera that extends to counter height, and you can adapt it with a cup holder or other accessories. The Astro has a large display for one face, as well as built-in cameras, and it can answer calls and voice commands with built-in Alexa support. In addition to roaming around a house and causing the cat to panic, the Astro is intended to fit in with Amazon’s myriad of brands and services. You can use the Astro as a roaming camera that connects with a Ring Security System, for example, or with Amazon Together, a service designed to allow caregivers to keep tabs on the elderly and their loved ones with special needs. The Astro currently costs $ 1,000 and is only on sale by invitation, but Amazon says the price will drop to $ 1,500 at some point.

An Echo Show 15 hanging on the wall.
Photo: Amazon

Amazon also announced its latest smart display, the Echo Show 15. The company’s largest smart display at 15 inches (hence the name), it’s designed to be wall-mounted or placed on a table stand. This larger screen is designed differently from previous Echo Shows, with a new interface that lets you access multiple commands or items simultaneously, like following a recipe while a live security camera feed appears. It’s also large enough to double as a small TV in places like the kitchen, and it can switch between portrait and landscape mode if you want to use it as a large digital photo frame. Surprisingly, it is priced at $ 250, the same as the smaller Echo Show 10, but that could be because the Show 15 only has a 5 megapixel camera (other newer Echo Show models have 13 megapixel cameras). It will also have an optional feature called Visual ID, in which the screen will identify who is speaking to it and show specific things for that person, such as their personal calendar and the last music they played.

A smart thermostat for the price of an idiot

An Amazon smart thermostat on a wall.
Photo: Amazon

The Amazon Smart Thermostat has many of the same power saving and convenience features found in our current picks, including automatic programming, custom programming, remote control and voice control and geolocation, but at $ 60, it’s a fraction of the cost. This requires your thermostat wiring to include a C wire for power, but you can choose to include a C wire adapter (for an additional $ 15) if you need it. Unlike the more expensive models in our guide to smart thermostats, the Amazon smart thermostat does not have smart remote sensors, which can better balance temperatures in homes with zoned HVAC. Oddly, Amazon’s thermostat doesn’t have Alexa built-in either; to use voice commands, you need to pair it with an Alexa device or use the Alexa app. To develop its thermostat, Amazon says it has partnered with Honeywell, one of the biggest names in home HVAC, which gives us hope that this model will work well.

Ring offers more power (and monitoring) in alarm options

A Ring Alarm Pro installed on a wall.
Photo: Ring

The Ring Alarm Pro builds on our budget choice for home security systems, integrating new cybersecurity features and cellular web connectivity into a new base station, which has an integrated Eero Wi-Fi 6 router. . If you have the existing system, do not throw away your sensors; they will work with the new base station (which you can purchase separately or in an eight- or 14-piece starter kit). The Ring Alarm Pro can operate as a self-monitoring system, with the Ring Plus Package, or with Ring Protect Pro, a newly announced plan that combines live surveillance with cloud storage for cameras, local video storage and processing, a backup internet connection for outages (if you also have the Ring Power Pack at $ 130), cybersecurity features and Alexa Guard More.

To take a closer look at your property, you will soon be able to activate Virtual security guard, a complimentary subscription service to Ring Alarm and any Protect plan, which allows a third-party monitoring service to take a peek whenever motion events occur. Surveillance officers can speak with intruders through the camera speakers, letting them know they are recorded and that authorities have been notified. At launch, Virtual Security Guard will work with Rapid Response (which currently operates the monitoring service for Ring Alarm customers) and is expected to start at $ 99 per month per location.

And if you want to keep prowlers (and maybe everyone) away, you can invest in the Ring Always Home Cam, a $ 250 indoor flying camera that can travel predefined flight paths, triggered by Ring Alarm sensors. and deliver 1440 × 1440 HD Video from angles you’ve never seen before. It’s weird, cool, and very exclusive, since the Ring Always Home Cam is currently available by invitation only.

An illustrated Blink video doorbell installed near a front door.
Photo: Amazon

Amazon is adding to the budget Blink security line with the introduction of the Blink Video Doorbell, a $ 50 1080p smart doorbell that can be hardwired or powered by two AA batteries. Available in black or white, it can store recordings locally using the Blink Sync module and a USB drive (sold separately) or in the cloud with a Blink subscription.

For areas that need a little extra light, the Blink Outdoor + Floodlight adds a battery-powered 700 lumen spotlight to the Blink Outdoor camera. If you already have the camera and sync module, you can simply purchase the add-on support.

Care Hub gets paid upgrade

Last year, Amazon announced Alexa Care Hub, a free collection of services to check on loved ones. Alexa together lets you upgrade these services for $ 20 per month (or $ 200 per year). The new option will include Care Hub features like activity alerts and feeds, as well as the ability to call Alexa to reach a designated loved one. The paid subscription also adds 24/7 hands-free access to a qualified response team, fall detection and the ability for caregivers to remotely add reminders, create shopping lists and modify Echo settings. Amazon is offering first-time subscribers six months free when the service launches later this year.

An interactive projector for kids to confuse their grandparents

A child talks with someone on an Amazon Echo Glow.
Photo: Amazon

The Amazon Glow (hey, Amazon, you already sell the Amazon Echo Glow) must surely have been inspired by the distance learning experiences of the students over the past year. It’s a new kind of device, part of a sub-category of smart displays, with a large tablet built into a sturdy stand with a built-in projector and sensors. A physical privacy button on the side blocks the camera and mutes the microphone. The idea with the Glow is that while having a video chat with a loved one, teacher, or tutor, a child can use their hands to interact with an image projected directly in front of them, much like whiteboards in the classroom are working (the other person is using the Glow app and a tablet or smartphone, and they can see the activity and the child in real time). A one-year Amazon Kids + subscription for games and books is included, and Amazon has partnered with a handful of kid-centric brands, such as Sesame Street and Disney, to provide interactive content, with more. expectations.

An update to their fitness game

The Halo View activity tracker, displayed next to a smartphone displaying the Halo app.
Photo: Amazon

The Halo View is Amazon’s new Fitbit-like fitness tracker, a sleek watch that will come in two sizes and three colors and feature a crisp-colored Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (AMOLED) display. Tracking measures include steps and heart rate, but also blood oxygen levels and sleep. As with other trackers, the device is only half of the experience; the companion app displays all of your activities and progress, but also provides access to one-year free of Amazon’s fitness portal, Halo. There you will find personalized workouts, movement assessment and fitness programs, as well as recipes and nutritional information. The Halo View has a seven-day battery life, charges in 90 minutes, and is waterproof up to 150 feet.


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