Amazon’s Announce-A-Palooza 2018!

Amazon’s Announce-A-Palooza 2018!

Amazon does announce things throughout the year, but September is a special time.

Today was no exception. 🙂

While they didn’t announce a home robot (they could still do that this year…it probably deserves its own event), they did announce a whole slew of new products and features.

Okay, there wasn’t a new EBR (E-Book Reader), or Fire Tablet…although they did just refresh the Fire Tablets about ten days ago:

Was it All About Alexa? Pretty much, but not entirely. 😉

You can see new products here:

Alexa for Everyone (at AmazonSmile*)

I’ve ordered one so far…or, at least, ask for an invitation:

Echo Auto (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s funny, but when I was hearing about possible new models, I thought this one wouldn’t interest me that much. Not because I didn’t think I would want to use Alexa in the car, but because I already do…in the Alexa app on my Galaxy phone.

However, we are only allowed to do a one-tap operation in California when we are driving. I can just drive with the app open and then tap the mic to talk to it, but I don’t want to have to look at the phone to do that. This device is really just a way to access the app on my phone…it does need both of those. What it will do is give me an eight-mic array designed to hear me in the car.

It’s going to have access to apps, including Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze…and it will be able to control my home devices. You can also listen to podcasts, like Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles. Full disclosure: I’ve appeared on The Kindle Chronicles, but I don’t know Len outside of our Kindle coverage (which has extended to XR…virtual/augmented/mixed/merged reality).

It will also take advantage of one of Alexa’s new abilities: location-based routines. You can ask for nearby gas stations…and it can direct you there.

All of this is cool, but one of the things that convinced me? It’s $24.99! That’s 50% off what will be the price. It’s supposed to come out later this year.

Let’s jump from that to something that costs about nine times that much ($229.99):

Fire TV Recast (at AmazonSmile*)

This one also requires a Fire TV (“or compatible mobile device”) and an HDTV antenna. I already have both, but I’m not springing for this now. What does it do? It records TV and plays it back…you know, like a VHS machine. 😉 It actually does a lot more than that, but that’s the heart of it. The less expensive model can record two shows at one, the more expensive one can record four. I think that’s going to be seen as a luxury, but will have some gift value at the holidays.

They’ve upgraded the Dot and the Show, and added a bunch of things to give you better sound.

Things have also gotten a bit more out there.

AmazonBasics Microwave 700W Works with Alexa (at AmazonSmile*) $59.99

Not only can you give it voice commands to set the time, it can also automatically reorder popcorn using Dash button tech. 🙂 You also won’t be telling it just things like, “Level 3 for two minutes”…it will have presets, so you can say things like, “Reheat coffee”.

It’s an Alexa accessory…it doesn’t have Alexa built into it, you use it with an Alexa device. The same thing is true for the new Echo Wall Clock, which will display your timers counting down.

That’s just the beginning! Amazon recently made it easier to add Alexa to gadgets, and the ones that they’ve told us about include a new version of Big Mouth Billy Bass…that will “lip sync” while Alexa talks.

You can sign up for a newsletter to hear about new gadgets:

Alexa Gadgets News and Notifications (at AmazonSmile*)

If you do see something there you want to buy, I’d appreciate it if you get to Amazon by clicking on a link in this blog, of course…

Well, this is about as much as I can do tonight. I did want to mention one more new feature for Alexa…partially because I suggested it about a year ago. 😉

Kids are growing up with talktech being normal

You’ll be able to whisper to Alexa…and Alexa will whisper back! You can whisper now, but Alexa responds full voice. This will be a lot better when I’m up and my Significant Other isn’t.

There’s a lot more (Amazon put out four press releases today), but I’m just out of time. Did something else stand out to you? Do you have questions? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post…and I’ll keep my eye out for that robot!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

7 Responses to “Amazon’s Announce-A-Palooza 2018!”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I was going to make some comments on your Sept 10 post about what might be coming, but as I was accumulating thoughts, wishes, rumors, etc, I was overtaken by today’s event.
    You had thought back then that they might cancel the Show instead we’ve got a new Show with a larger screen, and lots more content including a browser (either Silk or Firefox). The new show sports a 10″ full HD display similar to my Fire HD 10 tablet with Show mode, and the Show Mode dock (my Fire HD 10 sits on my bed and is largely similar to the original Show — when in Show mode).
    At the recently concluded IFA show in Berlin, an Amazon VP stated that Alexa had 50,000 skills, and 20,000 Alexa capable devices. in the attached WSJ article (with humorous cartoon) you can see the future we are careening towards:
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/all-ears-always-on-listening-devices-could-soon-be-everywhere-1531411250
    This begs the question, however, how are we going to communicate with only 4 foundational wake words? I was hoping for some kind of answer today. There were some hints. They’ve done some stuff with deep learning to avoid false wake-ups, and they did announce a new feature: “simple Wi-Fi setup”, which they admit is not fully baked. But I think the four foundational wake words will remain. Maybe think of them as rooms (or master addresses) with all the separately named devices in the room (sub-addresses) now more easily recognizable without fear of false positives. We’ll see.
    There’s a lot of stuff there. I did request an invite for an Echo Auto invite — as I will be getting a new 2019 Mustang with all the trimmings in early October (to replace my expiring 2016 one). I hope I get one. I also asked to be notified when the Echo Link will be available — that will allow Echo streams to be routed through my high end audio Hi-Fi system.
    I recently have needed to get hearing aids. So one thing I might like to see are hearing aids with Alexa recognition built in. My aida can already stream audio, but the quality is not great (what do you expect for in-the-canal speakers?). I suspect when the new hearing aid selling law takes effect in 2020 (you’ll be able to buy hearing devices at retail just like you can with reading glasses now), we might see a whole new take on audio AR/VR — far-field microphones might be unnecessary.
    One thing not mentioned was Kindle. So, (with apologies to Rodgers & Hammerstein):
    Everything’s up to date in Kindle City
    They’ve gone about as fer as they can go
    They’ve got a fancy reader they call the Oasis two
    With which you can read some Edgar Allan Poe
    I know, I know — don’t leave my day job😁.

    • Edward Boyhan Says:

      Speaking of kindles my Oasis 1 is just about 2 years old. The battery cover (merlot) has a tiny peel in one corner, but the real concern is that a full charge lasts only for about 24 hours.
      I had considered getting an Oasis 2, or a replacement Oasis 1 battery cover ($90). On Tuesday the battery cover started to be a bit flaky so I went ahead and ordered the replacement cover. It came about an hour before Amazon’s announcement event. I guess I’m happy that new Kindles were not disclosed (although they could still do a separate kindle release).

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        I do think we’ll get more announcements this year…something that get the buzz in maybe mid-October to mid-November, and that might be the robot.

    • Edward Boyhan Says:

      I did a little deeper look into the Fire TV Recast. As I understand this, it provides a DVR capability for Over The Air (OTA) video. As such it requires an HDTV antenna (not included). So I asked myself what OTA sources are available in my area of S Florida. There are maybe 12-13 stations. A rating service pointed out that all but two or three sources would require a roof-mounted antenna. An in-house antenna might get two or three. Shades of Back to the Future NOT! More like back to the fifties. Maybe in a dense city like NYC, the story might be different. Back in the day, NYC had 7 local VHF channels (guard band requirements prevented any more — UHF added a few, but they were mostly local community or foreign language stations). I don’t know whether digital transmission changes the count. One thing I will say: with HDTV digital, there’s no such thing as marginal reception: either you get it, or you get nothing.

      This seems to be aimed at a weird cutting the cord scenario. Unless I’m missing something?

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        I’m not sure how accurate it is, but people can go to this site, put in a ZIP code, and it will tell them what’s available:

        https://nocable.org/

        I remember when Sutro tower went up in San Francisco (where I lived at the time). It’s still up, and it was a powerful broadcaster at the time…so powerful that, as I recall, we only got the one station it carried on several channels at first. 😉

        So, yes, that’s the main scenario with this…live over the air TV to supplement what you get on the Fire TV: Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video, Tubi, and so on. That’s the deal Amazon hasn’t seemed to be able to swing very well…live TV from local channels.

        Do I think this is going to be a hit? Not really…it’s very expensive in my mind for what it does. If it was $50? Sure, but it has a lot of memory which is kind of expensive. 🙂

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Yes, that hearing aid law will probably impact my day job. 🙂 Not in a bad way, though.

      I think that may lead to blended devices…rather than hearing aids that can now do music, I think we’ll get existing music systems that add the hearing aid part. In other words, Beats by Dre adds a version that acts as a hearing aid. That’s a bit like the new Apple Watch having an EKG…adding the utilitarian to the cool.

      I appreciate your song!

      “I had my fill of this dreamy abstract thing called business, and I decided to face reality by writing lyrics.”
      –Edgar Yip Harburg

  2. AFD News: Alexa everywhere: cars, kitchens, clocks…and socks | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] 🙂 Amazon did not announce Alexa-enabled socks at the recent event, which I wrote about here: Amazon’s Announce-A-Palooza 2018! I was just intrigued and amused by Amazon really diversifying the offerings, and tried to think of […]

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