Amazon’s Echo devices get redesign on the way to world domination – CNET

Amazon’s products are the minivans of the devices world. They’re plastic-encased, utilitarian and sometimes ugly. But they work, are inexpensive and can take a beating. Parents love them.

Amazon’s products are the minivans of the devices world. They’re plastic-encased, utilitarian and sometimes ugly. But they work, are inexpensive and can take a beating. Parents love them.

In comparison, Apple designs its sports-car-like devices as artwork — with a price to match. Drop an Apple product and the neighbors will know about it from your shrieking.

That changed Thursday, as Amazon unveiled a torrent of new products, with many featuring a badly needed update in looks. They may not come close to the fit and finish of Apple gadgets, but Amazon’s portfolio of products is keeping pace with modern aesthetics.

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The move to update its products comes as Amazon continues its mission to put Alexa everywhere. After Thursday’s launch, which included a microwave, wall clock and an in-car accessory, the company is surely aiming for world domination through its Alexa digital assistant.

Creating a bigger universe of Alexa-powered products is an increasingly important goal for Amazon as it tries convincing millions of people to place its Echo products all over their homes (or even their cars). Competitors, meanwhile, had been looking to capitalize on Amazon’s uninspiring Echo designs by offering prettier devices, forcing Amazon to spend more time on the Echo’s look, not just its voice assistant.


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Amazon Echo event: Pictures from Seattle

The concern over aesthetics isn’t superficial. What’s at stake for these companies is establishing a presence in the home as more consumers opt to invest in smart speakers to power the smart gadgets in their lives. If you buy an Echo, you’re less likely to invest in a Google Home, ensuring your commitment to using Alexa (that works the other way round too).

Though the Echo remains the leading smart speaker in the US, taking up 70 percent of the market, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, its lead could slip if people start drifting to other, more attractive options. The Google Home accounts for 24 percent, while the Apple HomePod takes just 6 percent. The number of devices in use in the country hit 50 million.

Not just for show

Amazon’s device lineup is likely best known for offering better-than-expected capabilities at a lower-than-expected price. It’s a sales pitch that’s often repeated by Amazon execs when they trot out new products.

But while Amazon devices chief David Limp likes to pack his gadgets with useful features, apps and storage, he doesn’t seem to emphasize design as much.

The Echo Show is a good example. The Alexa-powered smart speaker with a built-in touchscreen display was released last June. The 2.5-pound device has a boxy and bulky design with a thick plastic border around its screen. The design instantly made it look outdated in an age of thinner smartphones with nearly edge-to-edge displays.

Limp showed off a new Echo Show featuring a 10-inch touchscreen, twice the size of the original, all housed in a sleeker body. The company’s new lineup almost universally embraced the fabric design scheme that Google Home employs. Amazon also showed off Skype support and the ability to display step-by-step cooking instructions.

Competing Google Assistant-powered smart displays were introduced at this year’s CES and some offered better designs, putting more pressure on Amazon to up its game. The LG WK9 ThinQ looks as clunky as the original Show. But the Lenovo Smart Display offers a more elegant shape, complete with a bamboo finish like what you might find in a cutting board.

The Show’s new look means it’s no longer a running joke in the industry.

Echo’s wallet-friendly options

The $50 Echo Dot, by far Amazon’s most popular Echo product, is essentially a plastic hockey puck and offers tinny sound. The similarly priced Google Home Mini has a fabric top and much nicer audio.

On Thursday, the company gave it a fabric makeover and boosted its volume, while keeping its price to $50. The Dot is the best selling product on Amazon’s site and is critical to Amazon’s mission to get its Alexa digital assistant into your home.

For those who have their own speakers, Amazon unveiled an even cheaper Echo — the Echo Input. The $35 puck connects to speakers and offers all the same Alexa functionality. The device comes later this year.

With sleek new designs, you can’t exactly call them the minivans of the smart speaker world.

Alexa’s new abilities

Amazon somehow squeezed in descriptions of new Alexa features between the slew of new products and refreshes. The company kicked things off with the ability for Alexa to whisper — a godsend to any parent worrying about waking a child.

Alexa can employ “hunches” based on your preferences, offering you suggestions like turning off the living room lights when you say good night in your bedroom. There are routines you can program based on your location, allowing you to set up actions when you leave or arrive home. Amazon touted the ability for Alexa to recognize your location, which potentially opens up several new capabilities for the digital assistant.

You can even use Alexa to help ease the process of setting up smart home gadgets around the house, solely using your voice rather than searching for the right Wi-Fi network and inputting codes to recognize devices. Limp compared it to the “frustration-free” packaging used in its shipped products.

“We’ve only scratched the surface of AI-powered inventions and we’ll continue to invent ways to make Alexa more useful for our customers,” Rohit Prasad, vice president and head scientist for Amazon Alexa, said in a statement.

Amazon’s trying to put Alexa everywhere

Those smarts don’t mean much if Alexa isn’t widespread. Amazon took a big proactive step toward that goal today.

The company introduced the AmazonBasics Microwave for $60, and an Echo Wall Clock for $40 — which prior to today, could have been punchlines to a joke. Then there’s Echo Auto, Amazon’s effort to get Alexa into your car. Amazon also unveiled subwoofers,amplifiers, receivers and a DVR called Fire TV Recast.

Amazon has a history of jumping into categories that’re occupied by its partners, and today was no different. Appliance makers that worked to integrate Alexa into their products have to be giving Amazon’s offering a critical, potentially worried, look. After the speakers were announced, Sonos’ stock fell nearly 3 percent, to $13.94.

Amazon’s stock, meanwhile, was up 1 percent, to $1,947.14, as everyone absorbed the sheer amount of products in its new lineup.

They’re a lot prettier to look at.

First published Sept. 20, 6 a.m. PT.
Updates, 10 a.m.: Adds details; 11:55 a.m.: Includes more product information.

Amazon’s big reveal: Everything Amazon announced today.

Will Alexa appeal to audiophiles? All the rumors on Amazon’s new stereo equipment.

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Amazon’s microwave works with Alexa, automatically reorders popcorn – CNET

Amazon will begin to sell its own brand of Wi-Fi-connected microwaves that will respond to voice commands, the company announced Thursday at its headquarters in Seattle.

Amazon will begin to sell its own brand of Wi-Fi-connected microwaves that will respond to voice commands, the company announced Thursday at its headquarters in Seattle. The $60 AmazonBasics Microwave will work with Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated, internet-connected digital assistant. It will also include Dash Replenishment Services, which means it can automatically order popcorn from Amazon. You can preorder the microwave starting today, and Amazon will begin to ship them later this year.

Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices, said the company decided to add Alexa capabilities to the microwave in part because the user interface of the appliance “is stuck in the late ’70s.” Amazon equipped the microwave with the new Alexa Connect Kit, a toolkit that lets developers create Wi-Fi-connected smart home products that connect to Amazon-managed cloud services.

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See alsoEverything Amazon just announcedAmazon’s microwave has Alexa and automatically reorders popcornAmazon Fire TV Recast: The Amazon DVR is real, and starts at $230Amazon’s new Echo Show is $230 and isn’t as ugly as before

You’ll still need an Alexa-powered speaker near the microwave for it to work with Alexa so you can give commands like, “Alexa, reheat one cup of coffee,” and automatically start a cook setting for that specific action. There’s also an “Ask Alexa” button on the touchscreen control panel, which you can press and say the time you want something to cook or the item you want to cook without the need to say “Alexa” first.


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Amazon Echo event: Pictures from Seattle

Amazon Echo event live blog: Catch all the latest news, pictures and updates from CNET.

Amazon’s new device lineup: Here’s everything we expect to see unveiled today.

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Amazon’s $25 Smart Plug plug brings Alexa brains to dumb electrical appliances – CNET

If you want your dumb coffeepot to work in your smart home, Amazon has a way: The Wi-Fi connected Amazon Smart Plug.

The $25 app-controlled device plugs into any ordinary wall socket, and you then plug ordinary electrical appliances into it.

If you want your dumb coffeepot to work in your smart home, Amazon has a way: The Wi-Fi connected Amazon Smart Plug.

The $25 app-controlled device plugs into any ordinary wall socket, and you then plug ordinary electrical appliances into it. The plug, which will ship in October, was unveiled at an Amazon smart device event on Thursday.

When you first fire up the smart plug, Alexa will ask you if you want to name it. You can then use your voice to say, for example, “call it the bedroom light.”

Amazon’s new plug joins a crowded market. But Amazon has good reason to be hopeful of success given how widespread its Alexa technology is already. The company’s Echo smart speakers are particularly popular and designed to help control smart-home products.

Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices, said the plug is designed with simplicity in mimd.

“What we’re trying to do is make the installation of any smart device — whether we make it or somebody else makes it — as easy as plugging it in,” Limp said.

Amazon also unveiled new Echo speakers, part of the line that helped create the smart speaker market. The line has given Amazon a foothold in the “ecosystem” wars of interlinked products, software and services that Apple and Google previously dominated.

See alsoEverything Amazon just announcedFollow our Amazon Echo launch live blog hereAmazon Echo Dot gets a fabric makeover, better sound, still costs $50$130 Echo Sub turns Echos into a 2.1 system

Amazon Echo event live blog: Catch all the latest news, pictures and updates from CNET.

Amazon’s new device lineup: Here’s everything we expect to see unveiled today.

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Amazon Echo Dot, Echo Input, Echo Sub: Everything Amazon just announced – CNET

At Amazon’s Thursday event, we saw a new Echo Dot, an input device to turn your dumb speakers smart and and Alexa-enabled microwave for just $60. But that’s just the beginning — scroll down for a running list of everything Amazon announced.

At Amazon’s Thursday event, we saw a new Echo Dot, an input device to turn your dumb speakers smart and and Alexa-enabled microwave for just $60. But that’s just the beginning — scroll down for a running list of everything Amazon announced.

See alsoEverything Amazon just announcedFollow our Amazon Echo launch live blog hereAmazon Echo Dot gets a fabric makeover, better sound, still costs $50$130 Echo Sub turns Echos into a 2.1 system
HardwareAmazon Echo Dot (redesigned): It’s still $50, but has a refreshed design. Preorders begin today.
Amazon Echo Input: Connect the new Echo Input to a dumb speaker to make it smart. The Input costs $35.
Amazon Echo Sub: Amazon unveils a $130 subwoofer to improve audio, including capabilities for stereo pairing.
Echo Link Amp and Echo Link: The $300 Amp gives you a built-in amplifier and the $200 Link gives you control over your current AV receiver.Amazon Echo Plus (redesigned): The redesign of the $150 Echo Plus adds in a temperature sensor and a new fabric design, similar to the new Echo Dot.
Amazon Smart Plug: Amazon also introduced its first smart plug for $25. It’s available for preorder today, and starts shipping in October.
Amazon Basics Microwave: The $60 Basics Microwave is Alexa-enabled (but doesn’t have a built-in Alexa speaker) with integrated Dash replenishment.
Amazon Echo Wall Clock: A $30 wall clock is coming soon, too, and it works with Alexa speakers.
Ring Stick Up Cam: Ring’s all-new Stick Up Cam costs $180 and will be available later in 2018.
Amazon Echo Show (redesigned): A new Echo Show is here, too. You can preorder it today and it ships in October. The price stays put at $230, but it has an improved design.
SoftwareWhisper mode: Have Alexa talk quietly if your child is asleep.
Routines: Routines come to the Echo Dot Kids Edition.
API SDK: Brings multiroom audio to third-party speakers. Amazon’s own speakers already offer this feature.Alexa Hunches: Amazon’s new machine learning software is supposed to make suggestions about your smart home. Are you going to sleep? Hunches might ask if you want to lock your front door.
Alexa Connect Kit: This developer toolkit is designed to integrate into large appliances and other smart devices to sync with Amazon’s cloud service.
Alexa Guard: With Alexa Guard, you should be able to use your existing Amazon smart speakers to “arm” your home’s security. At launch, Amazon is partnering with ADT and Ring, which Amazon purchased earlier in 2018.
Alexa doorbell API: If someone rings your Ring smart doorbell, it should show up on your Echo Show.


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Amazon Echo event: Pictures from Seattle

This is a developing story.

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Amazon Echo event live blog: Catch all the latest news, pictures and updates from CNET.

Amazon’s new device lineup: Here’s everything we expect to see unveiled today.

It’s 6 a.m. here in Seattle, and we’re a couple of hours away from a previously unannounced event at Amazon HQ. The agenda for the day?

“We will debut some new features and products related to the Amazon devices business,” reads the invitation in my inbox. I’ll be liveblogging the event with my CNET News colleague Ben Fox Rubin and trusty photo/video ninja Tyler Lizenby. Surprise!

Follow Amazon’s event live as it happens with the CNET Live Blog

Well, the predictable kind of surprise, at least. Last September, Amazon unveiled its second-gen Echo smart speaker along with a gaggle of other new Alexa gadgets, including the Echo Spot touchscreen alarm clock and the Echo Plus smart-home hub, as well as the Alexa-equipped Fire TV Cube. The September before that saw the arrival of the second-gen Echo Dot.

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Less predictable is what, exactly, we should expect to see today, because it sounds like we might see a lot. CNBC already reports that Amazon has as many as eight new Alexa gadgets planned for release this year — everything from an Echo subwoofer to an Alexa microwave (that “Echo Sub” briefly popped up on the Amazon UK website, as well, along with an Alexa smart plug for good measure). On top of that, we’ve seen leaked images of a third-gen, fabric-bodied Echo Dot that Amazon is reportedly cooking up, too.


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Alexa 101: What you should know about Amazon’s AI assistant

Will all of these rumored devices make their debut? I’m guessing that at least a couple aren’t past the prototype stage yet, but then again, Amazon has made a recent habit of throwing multiple ideas at the wall at once to see what sticks. Anything is possible when you’re a trillion-dollar company, I suppose.

One prediction: Today’s event will try to shore up some of Alexa’s potential vulnerabilities in what has quickly become one of tech’s hottest categories. Amazon has to be at least slightly concerned with Google’s growing presence in the rear-view mirror after the search giant overtook Amazon in smart speaker sales during the first quarter of the year.

The momentum hasn’t slowed since, with new Google Assistant-powered touchscreen devices such as the Lenovo Smart Display and the JBL Link View proving more compelling than Alexa’s touchscreen-equipped Echo Show ever has. More of those are on the way, including the LG Smart Display and perhaps even a first-party Google smart display, each of which could challenge the Echo lineup on the sound quality front, just as the king-sized Google Home Max and sweet-spot-hitting Sonos One already have.

Meanwhile, Apple has skin in the smart speaker game thanks to the HomePod, and Samsung’s voice assistant Bixby wants to muscle its way into the market, too.

With so much new competition coming for Alexa’s crown, it certainly wouldn’t be the worst time for Amazon to play some defense with a shiny new crop of Echo devices just in time for the holidays. Whatever Amazon has planned, we’ll be there in the room to share it with you in just a few hours. For now, here’s a quick rundown of what we might see outside of those other rumors.

Echo Dot 3.0?

At $50, the second-gen Echo Dot is Amazon’s bestselling Alexa gadget, and that makes it the most important piece of the Alexa lineup. But last year, the full-size, second-gen Echo ditched the black and white plastic in favor of a fabric-bodied build that’s more in line with the Google Home and Home Mini smart speakers — that left the Echo Dot feeling a bit dated by comparison.

That’s one reason why I think the recent leak suggesting that Amazon is working on a third-gen, fabric-bodied Dot is probably legit. Those leaks also suggest that the new Dot would offer improved sound quality, which would help it better compete with the likable Home Mini. My question: If a new Echo Dot really is coming soon, can Amazon get the cost down any lower than $50?

Chance we see it today: 85 percent

A new-and-improved Echo Show?

Let’s face facts: The touchscreen-equipped Echo Show wasn’t the home run Amazon probably hoped it would be. The most expensive Alexa gadget Amazon’s ever released, the Show was positioned as the Alexa lineup’s showstopper, and interest in the device seemed high as preorders came piling in. But the visual interface felt underwhelming (and still does), and squabbles with Google over YouTube support limited a lot of its initial appeal, too. A little over a year later, you’ll regularly find the Echo Show marked down by 50 percent or more, something we haven’t seen with any of Amazon’s other Alexa gadgets.

Is Amazon cleaning house ahead of an update? I’d give it slightly better than average odds, especially given what we’ve seen from compelling new Google Assistant-powered competitors such as the Lenovo Smart Display. If those prove popular and the smart display category takes off, then Amazon will want something compelling of its own capable of coming along for the ride. The first-gen Echo Show just doesn’t feel like that device anymore, and there aren’t any third-party Alexa touchscreens that fit the bill, either. That means that the timing is right for Show 2.0 — or at the very least, some significant updates to the existing model’s user interface.

It wouldn’t be the first time Amazon revamped an Alexa gadget in short order. The original Echo Dot debuted in March of 2016 — the second-gen model arrived at half the cost just six months later and helped Amazon blunt the debut of the Google Home. Time will tell if Amazon has something similar in mind for the Echo Show today, but with Alexa’s touchscreen a step or two behind the curve at this point, I’d say the odds are decent.

Chance we see it today: 60 percent

A new Echo, too?

The second-gen Amazon Echo made its debut last September — roughly three years after the introduction of the first Echo. If you think that makes for slim odds of seeing a third-gen Echo this morning, I’d say you’re probably right. With the interchangeable fabric shells and all of Alexa’s features on board, the Echo still feels current to what smart speaker shoppers are looking for — and at $100, the price still feels more or less right, too.

That said, I wouldn’t rule it out altogether. If the third-gen Echo Dot leak mentioned earlier is accurate, then it looks like Amazon’s made some tweaks to the overall Echo aesthetic. Releasing a new Echo with similar design tweaks could help keep things consistent (and keep the current Echo from feeling stale by comparison).

I could also envision Amazon releasing an updated Echo with a new hardware trick or two to help stymie Google’s momentum. The Echo Plus felt overpriced to me at $150, but its addition of a Zigbee radio for connecting with smart lights and smart locks without an extra hub is a nice feature. It would make plenty of sense in a third-gen Echo at that $100 price, particularly as Amazon shifts more of its focus to in-home delivery and smart home security. Other unique additions like a built-in motion sensor capable of turning the room’s lights on automatically when you walk in could help keep the Echo ahead, too.

Chance we see it today: 40 percent

The Tap strikes back?

Announced along with the Echo Dot back in 2016, Amazon’s portable, battery-powered Tap smart speaker never quite felt like a full-blooded member of Alexa’s family of devices. (The fact that it’s called the “Tap” and not “Echo Tap” certainly didn’t help matters.) But even as something of an Alexa offshoot, it still held a fair deal of appeal for folks looking for flexibility from their smart speaker, and the ability to take it with them around the house, or outside even.

The appeal of portability aside, Amazon is no longer making the Tap — instead, it’s selling off existing, refurbished stock. With lots of battery-powered competition from third-party Alexa gadgets not made by Amazon, as well as popular portability docks for the Echo Dot, Amazon might simply be sunsetting the speaker, but I also think there’s a chance that a new version is on the way. Better battery life and sound quality, or even a waterproof design that can stand up to the weather or to your pool would be nice upgrades. And finally calling it the Echo Tap would give it the pedigree it deserves as one of Amazon’s oldest Alexa gadgets.

Chance we see it today: 10 percent

Other potential surprises

All projections aside, the odds are good that Amazon’s event this morning will include at least a surprise or two (microwaves or otherwise). After all, remember Echo Buttons and the phone-replacing Echo Connect? Both debuted last September, and no one saw either one coming.

I’m also curious to see whether Amazon has any new plans for the Ring Video Doorbell or the new Ring Alarm Security Kit, which still don’t work with Alexa in spite of the fact that Amazon bought Ring this past February. I’ve also long wondered whether or not Amazon will ever release its own Amazon Basics-type line of low-cost smart bulbs and other smart-home gadgets designed specifically for Alexa, though such a move would certainly frustrate the third-party retailers Amazon’s put so much effort into courting. With high-end, high-fidelity competition from the Apple HomePod and the Google Home Max challenging Alexa on the sound-quality front, could a better-sounding “Echo Max” be in the mix, too? Seems likely that that’s precisely what the rumored Alexa subwoofer is all about.

Beyond Alexa, there’s also room for Amazon to introduce a new Fire TV streaming device, or perhaps an update to the Kindle or Fire tablet lineups. After all, Amazon’s invitation to the event only promises “new features and products related to the Amazon devices business.” Note that you don’t see the words “Echo” or “Alexa” anywhere in there.

Heck, we’ve even heard whispers that Amazon is interested in taking a second shot at the Fire phone — though I’d peg the odds of seeing anything on that front today at less than 1 percent.

Amazon doesn’t comment on speculation about new products, but we won’t have to wait much longer until they show us the goods. Stick with CNET for up-to-the-minute updates live from Amazon HQ, with our liveblog coverage beginning at 10:00 a.m. PT.

Originally published Sept. 8.
Update, Sept. 20: September event confirmed.


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Amazon’s 2018 device lineup includes a new Dot, Echo Show… and a microwave

If you’ve complained about Alexa’s inability to answer a question recently, we’ve got some good news: Alexa’s about to get a massive update.

In an event today at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, the company announced a slew of updates to its infamous smart assistant – and some new devices as well.

If you’ve complained about Alexa’s inability to answer a question recently, we’ve got some good news: Alexa’s about to get a massive update.

In an event today at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, the company announced a slew of updates to its infamous smart assistant – and some new devices as well.

The presentation began with David Limp, VP of Alexa at Amazon who announced a sequel to the Amazon Echo Dot that will ship for the same price – $49.99 (£49.99).

There’s also the Amazon Echo Input, which will cost just $34.99 (£34.99), and which removes the speaker from the Dot and focuses on voice input.

To enhance the audio of existing Amazon speakers, there’s Amazon Echo Sub – which leaked yesterday – the Echo Link Amp and Amazon Echo Link.

The Echo Sub is a subwoofer that pairs with Echo speakers, cost $129.99 (£119.99), will be available in every country Alexa is in today. That’s available for pre-order now, while the Link Amp and Link will be available for $299 and $199 later this year and some time next year, respectively.

To accompany the new music devices, Amazon is updating its Music service to include release notifications that will alert you when a new album drops.

On top of that, there’s going to be a new version of the Amazon Echo Plus that will start shipping next month for $149.99 (£139.99).

What about your domestic devices that aren’t smart already? For those ‘dumb’ devices, Amazon has introduced the Smart Plug (£24.99) that will enable every device in the home to have at least some limited smart home functionality.

To finish the presentation, Amazon announced a new version of the Amazon Echo Show that will have better sound (thanks to Dolby processing) and two times the display area over the original Echo Show. It will include web browsers (both Silk and Firefox) and

The 2018 Echo Show is $229 (£219.99) and will also have an accompanying stand that will allow you to tilt the Echo Show to adjust the viewing and camera angles for only £29.99. Both are available for pre-order today and will begin shipping next month.

Amazon Basics Alexa Microwave and Wall Clock

Two of the stranger products Amazon announced today were the Amazon Basics Alexa Microwave and Echo Wall Clock.

The Wall Clock is really an extension of Alexa’s widely used timer feature. It will have an LED for timers which can tick down when it’s close to being finished and flashes when a timer is done. That will be $29.99 and ships later this year.

The Amazon Basics Alexa Microwave works with connected devices despite microwave interface and can connect to a nearby Echo. It has Dash replenishment for popcorn, an Ask Alexa button that you can tap and tell the microwave what’s cooking (e.g “1 potato”). That’s $59.99, shipping later this year.

Alexa updates

Alexa is getting two updates, one that focuses on software and one on hardware.

Alexa Hunches will be aware of things you may want to do contextually. If you say, “Alexa Goodnight”, Alexa may warn you you’ve left the smart lock on your door unlocked, or a smart light on.

Alexa Connect Kit, on the other hand, lets manufacturers add a module with Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi to appliances of all types. There’s a real-time operating system in there too for updates and contextual awareness.

Amazon Fire TV Recast – an Amazon tuner / DVR

One of the most exciting products announced during the keynote was the Fire TV Recast, an Amazon DVR that includes two tuners and a 500GB hard drive for $229.99. A four tuner 1TB version also on the way and it poses a major threat to TiVo.

The Recast lets you send broadcast TV recordings to Fire TV devices, Android mobile and Echo Show, can be placed anywhere in your home for best aerial reception and beam content over Wi-Fi. It will add a DVR panel to Fire TV devices when installed and will integrate with cable streaming services like PlayStation Vue.

Amazon Echo Auto – Alexa for your car

So far, Alexa has invaded the kitchen, the living room and most of the walls on your home. But what about your car? Amazon has a device for that.

It’s called the Amazon Echo Auto and features 8 mics inside. The Echo Auto is able to differentiate between road noise, entertainment, voice and more, plus has a dash mount. (Not even Alexa can talk its way out of a ticket.)

Amazon Echo Auto is built from a new real-time operating system, booting as soon as your ignition is turned. The device features Bluetooth and Aux connections, with the phone in your car used to route queries to the cloud.

Alexa will also be location-aware, allowing you to pull up to your house and immediately turn smart lights on.

Developing…

The ongoing battle between the two warring VPN factions

Over the last few years VPN usage has come full circle; from IPSEC-VPN to SSL-VPN and now, back to IPSEC-VPN again. The reason for this is simple: connectivity needs have expanded rapidly, and for a while, scale and convenience were key priorities.

Over the last few years VPN usage has come full circle; from IPSEC-VPN to SSL-VPN and now, back to IPSEC-VPN again. The reason for this is simple: connectivity needs have expanded rapidly, and for a while, scale and convenience were key priorities.

IPSEC-VPN was originally seen as the best option for organisations that wanted to connect disparate systems and networks via strongly encrypted communications.

Even when flexible working fuelled demand for remote access to company resources, its client-server abilities were still considered superior — with some development to support more devices.

But the rise of Wi-Fi adoption brought big changes. While IPSECVPN was modified for better Wi-Fi compatibility, it was soon side-lined by technology that was easier to install, functioned at the pplication layer, and integrated with most web browsers: SSLVPN.

And as mobile usage exploded, SSL-VPN became the standard technology deployed in most apps and environments to provide what was broadly viewed as secure access.

Security vulnerabilities

Yet there were always security vulnerabilities with SSL-VPN — highlighted by Man-in-the-Middle attacks (MiTM) — and recent focus has returned to the risk these flaws pose. As organisations explore new opportunities for mobile, they need more robust connection technologies that offer network-level security, meaning IPSEC-VPN is back in the frame.

Now that the initial craze around mobile adoption has subsided, organisations are increasingly turning their attention to security. For most safety-conscious organisations, it’s clear that SSL-VPN does not offer sufficient protection — especially as they look to leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud capability.

As a result, the concept of creating a secure route to company networks and implementing tools that can detect threats before they jeopardise cloud-based systems has growing appeal, and IPSEC-VPN is the ideal technology to deliver this across the mobile space.

The future is set to bring a renaissance of classic computing methods — such as client-server — but with a modern twist. In place of PCs and fixed networks, mobile and IoT devices will be used for the majority of computing activity, and connections will be managed through the cloud.

Yet security will return to technologies that can offer data leakage prevention, protection at the network layer, stringent threat detection and in-depth risk monitoring, such as IPSEC-VPN.

Eric Green is a Security Strategist at Cyber adAPT

Apple Watch price range breakdown: how much does each Series cost?

The Apple Watch isn’t cheap, but exactly how much it costs can vary substantially based on the model you buy.

These, broadly, are split into the Apple Watch 4, Apple Watch 3, Apple Watch 2 and Apple Watch Series 1, but there are some special models too, such as the Apple Watch Edition, while prices can additionally vary based on the size and strap you choose, and whether or not you opt for LTE.

The Apple Watch isn’t cheap, but exactly how much it costs can vary substantially based on the model you buy.

These, broadly, are split into the Apple Watch 4, Apple Watch 3, Apple Watch 2 and Apple Watch Series 1, but there are some special models too, such as the Apple Watch Edition, while prices can additionally vary based on the size and strap you choose, and whether or not you opt for LTE.

So there are a lot of variations, but to help simplify things we’ve created this guide, highlighting the core models and what they currently cost, so you can see at a glance how much you’re likely to have to spend.

Note: pricing was correct at the time of writing, and while Apple isn’t prone to changing its prices without launching new products we’re sure to see some fluctuation over time.

Want to know more about buying an Apple Watch? Read our full guide hereApple Watch Series 4

The most recent variant is the Apple Watch Series 4, and it’s therefore the most expensive you can buy right now. The pricing is quite easy to follow, but if you want the top-end edition we want you to prepare yourself for some high prices.

It starts at $399 / £399 / AU$599 for the 40mm version of the watch. If you want the larger 44mm Wi-Fi only variant, you’ll be spending $429 / £429 / AU$649.

There’s also the LTE toting version of the Apple Watch Series 4 that starts at $499 / £499 / AU$749 for the 40mm and $529 / £529 / AU$799 for the 44mm version. A variety of Nike+ versions of the Apple Watch 4 cost the same as the pricing above depending on size and connectivity tech.

All of the watches just mentioned are made of aluminum, but you can also buy the watch in stainless steel too. You can only get the LTE version in stainless steel, and that comes in at $699 / £699 / AU$1049 for the 40mm and $749 / £749 / AU$1129 for the 44mm.

If you want the stainless steel with a milanese loop band, you’ll be spending more at $799 / £799 / AU$1199 for the 40mm and $849 / £849 / AU$1279 for the 44mm.

Looking for the Hermes version of the Apple Watch 4? Brace your bank account, and the prices start at $1249 / £1249 / AU$1899 and head up to $1499 / £1499 / AU$2299 depending on what versions of the watch you’re looking for.

Best Apple Watch 4 deals you can buy right nowApple Watch Series 3

2017’s top model was the Apple Watch Series 3, and it has had a price cut since the launch of the Apple Watch 4. That said, the variety of watches you can buy directly from Apple has been trimmed down.

You can only buy the watch in aluminum now where the Wi-Fi only version if $279 / £279 / AU$399 or $309 / £309 / AU$449 if you want the larger 42mm one.

If you want the LTE connectivity, you’ll be spending $379 / £379 / AU$549 on the 38mm or $409 / £409 / AU$599 for the 42mm. There are also some Nike+ variants available at the same prices as the above too.

These are the only variants sold directly by Apple, but there are some models you’ll find third-party retailers are still stocking. Stock is likely to drop off over time though as it seems Apple is slowing production on the other models.

There’s the Apple Watch Hermès and Apple Watch Edition models that some third-party retailers still sell, plus there are variants with a Milanese loop strap as well. Pricing is sure to vary depending on where you’re shopping.

Apple Watch Series 2

The Apple Watch 2

Apple itself is no longer selling the Apple Watch Series 2 – a device which is similar to the Apple Watch 3 but doesn’t offer LTE or a barometric altimeter, and has an older, slower chipset.

However, you can still buy the Apple Watch 2 from some other retailers, and it can be found starting at around $299/£289/AU$400. In other words, there’s not currently much of a saving over the Apple Watch 3 unless you buy it pre-owned.

As with the Apple Watch 3 there are various straps and special models of the Apple Watch 2, but now that it’s been discontinued many of these are increasingly hard to find. Most of the time we’d recommend buying the Apple Watch 3 instead now the price is that touch lower.

Apple Watch Series 1

You can no longer buy the Apple Watch Series 1 from the official Apple website, and it’s sure to become more and more difficult to find as time goes by.

Not to be confused with the original Apple Watch, this is a newer device (although it did come out in 2016) with a faster chipset, but it’s still slower than the Apple Watch 2, 3 or 4 and lacks GPS, LTE and waterproofing.

The price is lower than the three products listed above at around $179 / £229 / AU$359. We wouldn’t recommend buying this right now though.

Apple hasn’t pushed the watchOS 5 update to the original Apple Watch, meaning it’s gently going to lose a lot of its usefulness over the coming months and years.

We can’t gurantee it, but there’s a chance that when watchOS 6 launches in 2019, we won’t see the Apple Watch Series 1 upgraded to the new software. If that’s the case, you’ll be better off buying the Apple Watch Series 3 or newer 4 to ensure you’ve got years of support for your new smartwatch.

Check out the best Apple Watch bands

GoPro Hero7 Black: Say goodbye to shake and hello to live streams – CNET

The GoPro Hero7 Black isn’t a major overhaul of last year’s Hero6 Black, but more a continuation of what the company started with the Hero5 Black. GoPro could’ve easily leaned into specs oneupmanship, but instead it’s made a camera that’s better than the last by focusing on feature requests from its customers.

The GoPro Hero7 Black isn’t a major overhaul of last year’s Hero6 Black, but more a continuation of what the company started with the Hero5 Black. GoPro could’ve easily leaned into specs oneupmanship, but instead it’s made a camera that’s better than the last by focusing on feature requests from its customers. For the Hero7, that translates to rock-solid image stabilization and more ways to shoot and share your shots and do it as fast as possible.

Being the most feature-packed camera in the 2018 product line, the Hero7 Black keeps its top-end price of $399, £399 and AU$499. You’re getting more for your money now, but that really doesn’t take the sting out of the price. However, alongside the Black, GoPro announced the Hero7 Silver and White models priced at $299 and $199, respectively. They replace the Hero5 Black and the baseline GoPro Hero released back in March and have similar features to those models.

Now playing:Watch this: GoPro Hero7 Black is its most stable-shooting camera…
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4K60, 1080p240 and 12-megapixel photos

While there are a couple big changes with Hero7 Black, none of those problems are bumps to resolution or frame rates. It can record video at up to 4K 2,160-pixel resolution at 60 frames per second, which can give fast action a smoother look. If you’re into slow-motion clips, you can record in 2.7K at 120fps and 1,080p at 240fps. Photos are still 12 megapixels, too, and can be shot in bursts at 30fps.

These higher resolutions and frame rates require a reasonably powerful computer for playback and editing. Also, GoPro switched from the H.264 video codec to the newer H.265 codec also called HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) to save on storage space while keeping quality the same. HEVC is natively supported on Windows 10 and MacOS High Sierra/Mojave as well as on Android 5.0 or higher and iOS 11/12, but again, your computer, phone or tablet will need a strong processor. You can read more about HEVC on GoPro’s support page.

No more Jell-O

The GoPro Hero5 Black was a complete overhaul from the Hero4 Black. GoPro got rid of the clunky polycarbonate housing and made the camera waterproof and ditched the add-on touchscreen for a built-in one. It also added voice control, GPS and much-needed electronic image stabilization (EIS).

The EIS improved in the Hero6 and it’s so good in the Hero7 Black, GoPro named it HyperSmooth. It’s awesome at controlling shake from vibration, such as you would get from a handlebar or chest mount, and I never saw a hint of wobble. For most people, it takes away the need to get GoPro’s $300 Karma Grip gimbal.

Using a motorized gimbal will still make video look smoother, but it also adds a somewhat floaty quality (and it’s more to carry). HyperSmooth clips have a little shake to them still that makes them appear more natural and while it occasionally looks a little jerky, I’ll take that over nauseatingly unwatchable shakiness any day.


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GoPro Hero7 Black bulks up on features while staying small

HyperSmooth isn’t available for frames rates faster than 60fps, but it is available up at resolutions to 4K. You can also shoot at 1080p at 120fps with its standard EIS, which still looks good and certainly better than nothing.

GoPro took the shake out of audio, too. Though audio improvements tend to get glossed over, the Hero7 is noticeably better when it comes to the quality of voices and music. GoPro said it worked to eliminate unwanted vibration noises to prevent pickup of mechanical vibration and preserving the true-to-life sound.

New waterproof membranes were used to improve the signal-to-noise ratio, too. However, in water and windy environments like motorsports, you’ll experience a similar audio performance as Hero6 Black, GoPro said.

Time-lapse videos on the move

GoPro’s cameras have had the option to shoot time-lapse photos and videos for awhile. But the Hero7’s stabilization works so well that GoPro was able to add a motion time-lapse video mode called TimeWarp. If you’re familiar with Instagram’s Hyperlapse, it’s the same idea.

You can set TimeWarp to speed up what you’re recording by 2x, 5x, 10x, 15x or 30x. For example, if you set it to 30x, 5 minutes of recording creates a 10-second TimeWarp video. And because it’s all stabilized while shooting, the results look really smooth despite the fast movement.

HDR photos when you want ’em

Although the Hero6 could shoot HDR photos, you only had the option of having it off or on auto. In auto, the camera would always use it except in low-light conditions. The Hero7 is a little smarter and gives you more control and it, too, gets a marketing name: SuperPhoto.

If you want HDR on at all times, you can now do that. Or you can let the camera decide when to use SuperPhoto when it’s optimal for your shot based on the scene, light conditions and action. You can turn it off altogether also and shoot in JPEG or GoPro’s raw format. One other small photo feature: GoPro finally added a 3- or 10-second self-timer so you don’t have to use the time-lapse setting just to get in your shots.

A more social shooter

With the Hero5 and Hero6, GoPro was focused on making the most connected cameras possible. That included things like making it faster to connect to your phone or tablet and transfer content, having your shots transfer automatically to your device if you want and sharing to Instagram Stories directly within the GoPro app.

Adding to that, the Hero7 Black will let you live stream to Facebook Live as well as any service that works with an RTMP URL including YouTube, Twitch and Vimeo. It requires a Wi-Fi network or a personal hotspot and can stream at 480p or 720p.

The Hero7 can now shoot vertically, too, so it’s ready for posts to Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Now, as you rotate the camera, the image will rotate with it horizontally and vertically. So to go vertical, you just turn the camera on its side and press record or take a photo.

Lastly, to make capturing short shareable clips easier, GoPro added the option to limit clip lengths to 15- or 30-seconds. A countdown on the front display lets you see just how much time you have left.

Switch shooting modes like your phone

Are you used to how you change from photos to video to timelapse on your iPhone? Good, that’s how the interface now works on the Hero7. Just swipe left and right on the screen to jump between modes. Once you’re in the mode you want, shooting settings — resolutions, frame rates, stabilization and so on — are only one or two taps away.

The new interface will only be on the Hero7 models and if you’re coming from a Hero5 or Hero6 it’ll take some time to adjust. And if you get fed up and frustrated like I did, you always have the option to shout at the camera with voice commands to change shooting modes instead.

Battery life: Same old song

Guess what? If you were disappointed by your GoPro camera’s battery life in the past, the Hero7 is not any better. With all these features — Wi-Fi, 4K, high frame rates, GPS, HyperSmooth stabilization — there’s a power penalty: The more you ask of the camera, the shorter your battery life will be. To be fair, GoPro has done a decent job of bulking up on capabilities while keeping battery life relatively good. Still, you’ll want to travel with a spare pack or two and maybe invest in GoPro’s Supercharger.

All the little things add up

GoPro definitely added enough to the Hero7 Black to make stepping up from an older or lower-end model worthwhile. The stabilization is the killer feature that will benefit any user, while the rest of the new features fall into the nice-to-have category. The Hero6 Black’s stabilization worked really well and although the HyperSmooth is better, I’m not sure it’ll be worth it for most people. I’ll know for sure after some more testing and I’ll be back with a final verdict.

Note: Jim Lanzone, CEO of CBS Interactive — which operates CNET — is a member of GoPro’s board of directors.

The Hero7 Black is GoPro’s most advanced action camera yet

Almost a year to the day after unleashing its Hero6 Black, GoPro has given its many action camera rivals a tougher competitor in the new Hero7 Black.

While the basic idea has stayed the same for the new flagship model, GoPro isn’t shy as to the new model’s capabilities.

Almost a year to the day after unleashing its Hero6 Black, GoPro has given its many action camera rivals a tougher competitor in the new Hero7 Black.

While the basic idea has stayed the same for the new flagship model, GoPro isn’t shy as to the new model’s capabilities. Describing its hardware as the Hero6 Black’s “on steroids” the new arrival is said to be equipped with the best in-camera video stabilisation in any camera – not just action cameras.

This is courtesy of HyperSmooth, a feature developed in house that claims to equip the camera with gimbal-like stabilisation, rending a separate gimbal unnecessary.

A combination of hardware and software rather than optical stabilisation, HyperSmooth can be called upon when shooting 4K footage at the maximum 60p setting, and doesn’t consume any additional battery life in operation.

Read our hands onGoPro Hero7 Black review

This stabilisation also extends to the camera’s New TimeWarp video option, which allows users to incorporate motion into their Timelapses, rather than needing to keep the camera stable on a tripod. The result is a hyperlapse-style video that you can create completely handheld, or a magic carpet ride, as GoPro puts it.

Video specs otherwise are largely unchanged, although there’s a new Short Clips feature that disciplines you to capture footage with a maximum 15sec or 30sec duration.

Better stills

Another new feature is SuperPhoto, which aims to take the hassle out of manually calling upon various options to help improve your images. So, HDR, for example, is automatically deployed where the camera deems it necessary to help balance scenes with a wide dynamic range. Similarly, the camera will use multi-frame noise reduction if it feels the need to do so, helping to deliver images with lower noise without the user having to intervene.

The hardware on the imaging side, however, is unchanged. So, we get the same 12MP CMOS sensor from the GoPro Hero6 Black and a lens that provides an angle of view equivalent to that of a 16mm lens, when used in the 16:9 aspect ratio. Driving everything is the familiar GP1 processor that first surfaced inside the Hero6 Black.

The camera’s rugged credentials are also the same as before, with 10m/33ft waterproofing without an additional housing, although audio recording is said to be improved, partly through a microphone membrane that’s been redesigned to kill vibrations and detect more nuanced sounds.

Around the back there’s a 2in touchscreen LCD, and GoPro has refreshed the UI to make operation more smartphone-like. You can swipe the screen to change between different modes, and the UI now automatically adjusts when you’re shooting in a portrait orientation so that’s it’s easier to use the device this way.

Go Live… and get rich

The Hero7 Black also has the honour of being the first GoPro Hero model capable of live-streaming. Limited to 720p output, this will work with Facebook on launch, and is set to work with YouTube, Twitch and Vimeo before long.

All images and footage – including live-streamed footage – are whisked away to a microSDHC/SDXC card, though built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth also allow you to send everything wirelessly to your phone or tablet. The camera maintains compatibility with the Quik and GoPro apps as previous models.

To further encourage users to adopt the new model, GoPro is also launching a Hero7 Black Million Dollar Challenge. The contest encourages users to film the product highlight reel for the new device, and anyone whose footage is chosen will scoop an equal share of $1,000,000 with all other entrants who end up being chosen for the reel.

GoPro Hero7 Silver and White

The new model will be joined by Hero7 Silver and Hero7 White siblings, each bringing a handful of improvements over previous models, at more agreeable price than the Black version.

The Hero7 Silver offers a 10MP sensor and 4K video to 30p, along with Full HD recording to 60p and 2x slow-motion recording. It maintains the same waterproofing, Voice Control and touch-functionality as the Black option, together with the portrait-orientation shooting and Short Clips feature, although it misses out on the new HyperSmooth and SuperPhoto options, and burst shooting is limited to (a still-respectable) 15fps.

The White option, meanwhile, will arrive with much the same feature set as the Silver, but with video recording capped at 1080p.

GoPro Hero7 Black price and release date

GoPro’s previous Hero6 Black had its asking price reduced from the original $499 / £499 starting point down to $399 / £399, and GoPro is asking the same for the new model in the US, and a slightly more attractive £379 for the UK.

The Hero7 Silver and Hero7 White options will be available for $299 / £279.99 and $199 / £179.99 respectively. Pricing for all three models in Australia, is yet to be announced.

The new model can be pre-ordered now, and will be available from September 27, which is also the start date for entries to the Million Dollar Challenge.

Best action cameras: 10 top models for the GoPro generation

Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept is a mobile interstellar observatory – Roadshow

The trailer also features a laptop station, WiFi and an integrated UHF data transmitter, all powered by an EV battery borrowed from Nissan’s Leaf.

Published:September 19, 2018Caption:Photo:NissanRead the article

The trailer also features a laptop station, WiFi and an integrated UHF data transmitter, all powered by an EV battery borrowed from Nissan’s Leaf.

Published:September 19, 2018Caption:Photo:NissanRead the article