Amazon Fall Event

Amazon held its annual Fall event at its new HQ2 campus in Arlington, Virginia to showcase its new lineup of products. I attended the event and tried out these new products and features firsthand. From new Echo devices, smart home solutions, and a smarter, more conversational Alexa—here’s what you need to know. 

Echo Show 8

The Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) makes smart homes even smarter. Redesigned with edge-to-edge glass, the new Echo Show 8 has a centered camera to improve video calls. Previously, the camera was situated on the right side.  Amazon also upgraded the audio pipeline in the Echo Show 8 to minimize background noise. 

With a new adaptive content feature, what you see on the screen depends on your proximity to the device itself. For example, if you are far away, the screen will show a large clock or a simplified news headline. However, as you get closer to the Echo Show 8, the screen transitions to a more detailed, touch-friendly user interface. The built-in smart home hub on the Echo Show 8 is Matter compatible. It allows users to control their smart home devices on the touchscreen, or through voice commands with the help of Alexa.

Echo Show 8

Generative AI is coming to Alexa

Speaking of Alexa, Amazon said that more than 400 million smart home devices are connected to Alexa. The first Echo smart speaker was released in 2014. That means next year, Alexa is turning 10. She’s growing up so it seems fitting that Alexa is getting smarter and more conversational. Thanks to the new Alexa LLM (large language model), Alexa can understand conversational phrases, talk more human-like, and complete multiple requests from a single command. Soon you will be able to say, “Alexa, let’s chat” and proceed to have a conversation with Alexa without having to use the wake word before every sentence. 

I think this is going to be a game-changer because it gives people the ability to program complex routines entirely by voice. For example, a parent could say “Alexa, every weeknight make a bedtime announcement for the kids, turn the TV off, dim the lights, lock the doors, and arm the outdoor security cameras.” Instantly that multi-device routine will be set—all through a single voice command. Amazon said this new Alexa will work with older Echo devices so expect Alexa to get smarter and more conversational very soon.

Echo Hub

Echo Hub

Amazon introduced entirely new Echo devices with the Echo Hub. This is a wall-mounted, eight-inch touchscreen control panel for smart homes. Powered by Alexa, you can view multiple live camera feeds at the same time, control lights, and control the indoor temperature. The Echo Hub is both Matter and Thread compatible and supports over 140,000 smart devices. A key feature of the Echo Hub is the low-latency control of smart home devices. For example, if you tap the lights off from the Echo Hub, it will turn off in as little as 300 milliseconds. 

Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Fire TV Stick 4K Max 

The second generation of Fire TV Stick 4K Max supports Wi-Fi 6E for lower latency streaming and less wireless interference from other Wi-Fi devices in your home. The big news is that it now supports Fire TV Ambient Experience. This was previously only available on the Fire TV Omni QLED Series. This transforms the TV into an always-on smart display. Instead of a black screen when the TV is not in use, your TV will display photos, artwork, weather forecasts, and upcoming reminders on the screen.

The Fire TV search experience is also getting help from generative AI and Alexa. Just like you might ask a friend for a movie recommendation, you can ask Alexa. For example, you might say, “Alexa, show me movie suggestions with that actor who played the lawyer in Breaking Bad.” This will make it easier and faster to find content hands-free.

Echo Dot Kids

Echo Pop Kids

Kids love interacting with smart speakers. The new Echo Pop Kids is the smallest smart speaker for kids. I recently reviewed the Echo Pop speaker, you can read that review here. The big difference with the kids version is they come with two new character themes—Marvel’s Avengers and Disney Princess. Kids can wake up to an Avenger-themed alarm, or hear Alexa discuss fun facts from a Disney Princess. The Echo Pop Kids comes with six months of Amazon Kids+. This is a collection of age-appropriate books, games, videos, music, and apps. Kids can ask Alexa questions about animals and nature. These conversations combine fun facts and trivia questions from trusted sources like the World Wildlife Fund.  

eero Max 7

eero Max 7

It’s hard to believe but Wi-Fi 7 is just around the corner. Amazon announced the eero Max 7, their first Wi-Fi 7 mesh system. It provides twice the speed of Wi-Fi 6 and uses Amazon’s patented TrueMesh networking technology. The eero Max 7 features 10 Gigabit Ethernet which Amazon says can download a 50 gigabyte video game in less than a minute. With 7,500 sq of coverage and supporting 200+ connected devices, the eero Max 7 is clearly designed for homes where ultra-fast and reliable Wi-Fi is required.

Fire TV Soundbar

Fire TV Soundbar

Amazon is getting into the soundbar game with the Fire TV Soundbar. It’s really a two-in-one device—a Bluetooth speaker, and a TV soundbar. It’s 24” wide and can be placed in front of a TV, on a stand, or mounted to the wall under a TV. It connects with an included HDMI cable that connects to a television’s eARC/ARC port. 

As you might imagine, the Fire TV Soundar is designed to work with Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks. It comes with an included controller but users can use a single remote to control both the TV and Fire TV Soundbar.

Ring Stick Up Cam Pro

Ring Stick Up Cam Pro

Home security was discussed a lot during the event. Amazon announced the Ring Stick Up Cam Pro, an indoor/outdoor camera with 1080p HDR video and colour night vision. It uses a feature called 3D Motion Detection. This allows you to pinpoint movements to reduce false alerts. With Bird’s Eye View, you can see an aerial view of your property. You can then see where someone has been and how they got there. With Bird’s Eye Zones, users can map out detection areas so you only get alerts about specific areas. For example, configure alerts for a front yard, but not the sidewalk. 

When will these new products and features be available?

All these new Amazon products will be available just in time for the holiday season. Keep an eye out at Best Buy and on this blog for reviews and other tips and tricks for getting the most out of a Smart Home.

Andy Baryer
Andy Baryer aka “Handy Andy” is a technology journalist, gadget reviewer, and DIY/how-to content creator. Known as the handyman of tech, Andy enjoys fixing poor wireless networks, building smart homes, and cooking with the latest kitchen gadgets. He’s a competitive whistler, a budding woodworker, and loves gardening in his home-built smart garden.

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