Amazon's latest devices put Alexa anywhere and everywhere


Amazon's Echo devices are already a part of many an abode. It seems like the strategy behind the company's latest announcement could be described as "have Alexa everywhere," though. The e-tailer has revamped most of its existing Echo lineup and announced a bevy of automation devices: the Echo Auto for cars, the Fire TV Recast set-top box, an Echo subwoofer, a voice-controlled Smart Plug, the Stick Up Cam Wired security camera, and (drum roll, please) an AmazonBasics Microwave with Alexa built in.

The Echo Auto is one of the most interesting items of the bunch. It's a small slab of black plastic with a blue LED strip at the front that pairs with the car's radio and a smartphone using Bluetooth. The device has eight microphones that, according to Amazon, should let the Auto hear you fine over road noise and playing music. There's also a 3.5-mm jack for auxiliary audio output if necessary.

Users can then ask Alexa to play music, play podcasts, make calls, manage calendars, and deliver directions via phone apps like Google Maps or Waze. Amazon remarks that Alexa has "over 50,000 skills and counting," so we'd imagine that the assistant can perform most of those through the Echo Auto. Interested buyers can request an invitation for owning an Echo Auto for an introductory price of $25. There's currently no word on a release date.

Next up, the Fire TV Recast. This box lets users record multiple shows simultaneously and then stream them to Fire TV or Echo Show devices in the home, or to Alexa-enabled devices anywhere else. To do its thing, the Recast needs a direct HD antenna connection and a device that can use the Fire TV app. The Fire TV Recast is set to arrive on November 14. A version with two tuners and 500 GB of storage will set buyers back $230, while a higher-end model with four tuners and 1 TB of room will go for $280

The Echo Sub is probably the simplest device of the lot. Much like its name implies, it's a powered subwoofer that works in conjunction with one or two Echo or Echo Plus devices and performs ever-important bass-handling duties. Amazon sells the Echo Sub on its own for $130 or as part of a bundle with two Echo Plus units for $250. Deep sound waves will hit users' homes on October 11.

Smart power outlets are an interesting item, but they often require varying degrees of work to install. Amazon's Smart Plug simply, er, plugs into any existing outlet and connects to a Wi-Fi network. Users can then ask Alexa to perform tasks like turning a connected device on and off or turning on multiple devices at once. People don't need to be home to do this, either, as they can control their outlets using the Alexa app on their phones or tablets. Each Smart Plug goes for an affordable $25, and they'll be available on October 11.

The Stick Up Cam Wired is mostly described by its name. It's a wired camera that can record 1920x1080 video and should be easily mountable on most locations. The device uses Wi-Fi or Ethernet to connect to the outside world. The camera can send notifications if it detects motion and can be used for real-time video chat. Watts get delivered to the camera via Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), though Amazon doesn't include such an adapter in the box. Pre-orders are available for $180, and cameras should be in homes on October 18.

Finally, the weirdest item in the bunch. The AmazonBasics Microwave looks more or less like you'd expect it to, but it hides a trick under a particular blue button: you can talk to it. The microwave offers Alexa integration via a paired Echo device and can be controlled with voice commands. Amazon says you can ask Alexa to defrost and cook food, heat coffee, or just turn the microwave on for a set time. The microwave can deliver 700 W of power, has a capacity of 0.7 ft³, and will set buyers back $60 when it ships on November 14.

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