Amazon's new product line: the good, the bad, and the bizarre - The UpStream

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Amazon's new product line: the good, the bad, and the bizarre

posted Friday Oct 8, 2021 by Scott Ertz

Amazon's new product line: the good, the bad, and the bizarre

Last week, while we were off, Amazon held its latest new product reveal, and the company did not disappoint. As expected, the company announced updates to their core products, added new items to the existing lines, and announced some really weird new products.

The Good

A number of the products that were announced are really good, especially for people who are actively in the Amazon ecosystem already. Generally, this involves enhancements to the company's security offerings but also includes some kids' products.

Blink Doorbell

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Everyone is trying to get active into the video doorbell world, and Amazon is no different. The Blink Video Doorbell is an inexpensive entry from Amazon. The product only runs $49, far less than the company's other video doorbells, which currently start at $59 for the Ring wired doorbell. This new doorbell also allows you to hardwire or go wireless with an optional sync module. You can also save videos to the cloud or local storage and create clips to share. The doorbell runs on 2-AA batteries, can send alerts through Alexa, and has two-way audio capabilities. A great entry level model from the Amazon world.

You'll be able to get the Blink Video Doorbell starting October 21, 2021, for $49.99.

Ring Alarm Pro system

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The Ring Alarm Pro is a new security offering from Amazon that allows you to purchase a full set of connected devices in one easy-to-install package. In the box are an Alarm Pro Base Station, which is the brains of your system. Included in this base is a built-in eero Wi-Fi 6 router. This means that you can dual-purpose the device, as both your router and central security hub. You also get a keypad to arm and disarm your whole security system.

As for sensors, the kit also has a lot to offer. It comes with 4 window and door sensors, though it is important to note that they are only contact sensors. So, while you can tell if a door or window has been opened the correct way, they will not be able to tell you if glass has been broken, as some other sensors offer. They are also fairly large, as compared to comparable products. But, to try and compensate for the lack of a glass break sensor in the door and window sensors, you do get a motion detector in the kit. Properly placed, this can help a lot.

One of the interesting decisions about the kit, which has not changed from the previous non-Pro model, is that the set runs on Z-Wave. There are positives and negatives, of course, but it does mean that each sensor has to have radio communication with the Base Station. If you have a larger space, this might become an issue. Because of this, the kit also comes with a Range Extender, adding an additional 250 feet of range between devices.

The Ring Alarm Pro will be available November 3, 2021, for $299.99.

Amazon Smart Thermostat

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The Amazon Smart Thermostat is a new offering created in partnership with Honeywell Home. If you're going to make an air product, Honeywell is certainly one of the best partners to work with. While most smart thermostats try to look nice, this one takes a different approach: looking as uninteresting as possible. It has a screen that displays the temperature the same way your alarm clock shows the time - with a 7-segment display.

Obviously, the intention is to use Alexa to control the thermostat. This means being able to talk to it through an Echo device, but also being able to see stats through the Alexa app. You're able to see the amount of energy used for the week and month, as well as amount of run time for both. There's also graphs to be able to see what days are the highest energy consumption.

The Amazon Smart Thermostat will be available November 4, 2021, for $59.99 without c-wire and $84.98 with c-wire adapter.

The Bad

This doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad product, but sometimes a company is just too late to the party to be able to compete.

Halo View

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The Halo View is a new fitness tracker from Amazon. The design seems oddly remenistent of the Microsoft Band and comes without some of the biggest limitations. For example, while the Band had a fixed wristband, the Halo View is removable. The company also has some high-profile relationships, including Weight Watchers and Orange Theory Fitness.

The problem here is that Amazon is really late to the party with this fitness band. Most people who want some sort of watch or fitness band have already made their choices. While not as difficult to change as it would be for a phone, you'll have a lot of historical data stored in other platforms, making it less appealing to change now. That is made even less appealing when you see that there is little new or interesting about this particular band.

The Halo View release date has not been announced, but it will sell for $79.99.

Amazon Astro

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The Amazon Astro is an interesting product that could have potentially found a home under The Weird. It is a small robot combines a vacuum-less Roomba with an Echo Show. It's got a periscope on its head with a camera, a front screen that can move, and an expression that was supposed to be cute but comes across as intimidating. Using proprietary autonomous motion and home mapping technology, Astro is able to safely navigate the house. This includes avoiding pets, something that has been a challenge for other products.

So, what does it do? Not a ton. It can play videos, make and receive video calls, and act as a roving security guard. Using Amazon Alexa Together, it can also alert you if someone you're taking care of gets up when they aren't supposed to. But, all of this is possible without the expensive price tag of $1000 for the first batch, and an unbelievable $1500 after that.

The reason Astro falls under The Bad, though, is because of allegations against its security. A report from Motherboard states that developers on the project have referred to the robot as "terrible." This is because of physical issues with the robot, as well as its privacy issues. For example, in Sentry mode, Astro can follow people who it does not know and upload audio and video recordings to the cloud.

Even weirder, Astro will follow the owner around and try to learn what parts of the house people tend to congregate. Amazon claims that most of the processing is done on the device, which means that some of that data will be uploaded to Amazon. Worst of all, developers say that the AI is not ready for primetime, and that Astro will "almost certainly throw itself down a flight of stairs if presented the opportunity."

If you're willing to give it a shot, Amazon Astro will be available by invitation for $999.99.

The Weird

As always, Amazon has a few items that are just odd. Sometimes they turn into something interesting, and sometimes they're just what they are.

Amazon Glow

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The Amazon Glow is a product that appears to be based on one of our CES 2020 top picks - the MicroVision projection computer. This implementation is intended to be a game projector and video chatting computer. The projector creates a 19-inch screen that can interact with the kids and physical objects. For people on the other end, there is an Amazon Glow app that gives them the ability to video chat with the kids, which is shown on the device's front-facing touchscreen.

The Amazon Glow will be available initially by invitation only for $249.99.

Hey Disney

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Hey Disney is less of a product and more of a skill for your Echo devices. It is intended for kids, but can also be used by adults who are overly Disney-focused. It will be available complimentary in all Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms, and will be available for purchase on your Alexa devices. It can be combined with a new Otterbox stand, which turns an Echo Show 5 into a little Mickey.

All of the Hey Disney features will launch in early 2022.


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