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Refreshed Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
First up is the 3rd generation Echo Dot. So what’s new here? For starters, the updated Echo Dot is 70 percent louder than the previous generation. That’s due to an upgrade to the driver, moving from a 1.1mm driver to a 1.6mm model. According to Amazon, this upgrade produces enhanced bass and lower distortion compared to the previous generation. The speaker is also driven by additional power to get that higher volume. Completing this package is your typical Bluetooth connectivity and a new fabric-based exterior.
You can now get the Echo Dot for $50. It comes in Charcoal, Heather Gray, and Sandstone.
This is Amazon’s first Echo-branded device without a speaker. It essentially adds Alexa to any speaker you currently own, connecting via a 3.5mm audio cable or Bluetooth. The device measures a mere 12.5mm tall and includes a four-microphone array so you can command Alexa from across the room. It will be included with Bose speakers later this year as well.
The Echo Input will arrive sometime in late 2023 for $35. You can have Amazon email you whenever the Echo Input is back in stock.
The Echo Sub is a stand-alone 100-watt subwoofer sporting a 6-inch downward-facing woofer. It connects via 2.1 or 1.1 pairing with Echo and Echo Plus devices, adding a nice bass to your favorite music and video. While it’s not exactly cheap at $130, this could be a perfect accessory for those looking to take their Echo’s sound to the next level.
You can now order the Echo Sub for $130 in Charcoal. You can also pick up bundles that include the regular Echo for $250.
This box-shaped device connects to your current receiver or amplifier through digital or analog inputs and outputs. It doesn’t include a microphone, but you can control the volume and music selection via the dial mounted on the front, or through your Echo device or the Alexa app. The Echo Link includes an Ethernet port too.
The Echo Link will arrive later this year, but it’s not up for pre-order just yet. When it does become available it will set you back $200.
Echo Link Amp
At first glance, you might think you’re looking at another picture of the Echo Link, but nope. The Echo Link Amp is much larger than the Echo Link, due to the built-in 60-watt dual-channel amplifier. It also doesn’t include a microphone, requiring you to control music playback via the front-mounted dial, your Echo devices or the Alexa app. It includes multiple digital and analog inputs and outputs along with Ethernet connectivity.
The Echo Link Amp will cost you $300, though you won’t be able to get it until sometime in “early 2023”.
Echo Plus 2nd gen
The original Amazon Echo Plus looked a bit like someone just stuffed new parts in an original Echo’s shell and called it a day. But no longer! The new model has a fabric design that’s more in linek with newer Echo devices.
This refreshed model includes a built-in Smart Hub so you can setup other smart devices by saying, “Alexa, discover my devices.” Even more, it provides local voice control, meaning you can control smart devices even when the internet is unavailable. If that’s not enough, Amazon threw in a built-in temperature sensor. Just ask Alexa to check the inside temperature via the sensor or check the temperature using a compatible smart thermostat.
You can buy the Echo Plus for $150 in Charcoal, Heather Gray, and Sandstone. Interestingly, you can also buy the Echo Plus and a Philips Hue bulb for the same price. If that is not enough, you can buy a bundle that includes a second Echo Plus and Echo Sub for $330.
Fire TV Recast
The Fire TV family is now getting into the DVR space, with a stand-alone “companion” DVR device. The Fire TV Recast lets you record free, over-the-air TV programming that can be streamed to Apple and Android devices, Fire TV, Echo Show and Amazon’s Fire-branded tablets. You can record up to four shows simultaneously and stream the media to any two compatible devices at the same time, depending on the version you buy. One model merely offers two tuners with 500GB of storage while the pricier model includes four tuners with 1TB of storage. You’ll need to supply your own HDTV antenna.
You can pre-order the Fire TV Recast now and it will ship November 14th. There are two models, the 500 GB version for $230 and the 1TB version for $280.
Amazon Smart Plug
There are plenty of smart plugs already, but that’s not stopping Amazon from getting in the game with the Amazon Smart Plug.
This device plugs into your wall outlet and connects to Echo devices via Bluetooth. Essentially, you can control connected appliances and lights using Alexa via an Echo speaker or the Alexa app. It’s also the first device to ship with Wi-Fi Simple Setup, a new service provided by Amazon that will share your wireless credentials with other compatible devices so you’re not manually connecting each one during the setup process. TP-Link and Eero now support this service as well.
You can get Amazon’s Smart Plug for $25. Pre-orders start today but it won’t release until October 11th.
Amazon Basics Microwave
A smart microwave? Yep, those in fact exist. And now Amazon has one.
This new microwave from Amazon Basics can connect to your Echo devices via Bluetooth. It includes a built-in Ask Alexa button, enabling you to press the button and provide a cooking command, such as telling the device to cook a potato without specifying a duration. You can verbally add time to that command or tell the microwave to stop cooking. The Amazon Basics added support for the Dash Replenishment service too so you can reorder food when your supplies run low.
The good news is getting Alexa-powered smarts doesn’t mean this microwave will cost a fortune. You can pre-order it now for $60 and it will arrive on November 14th.
Echo Wall Clock
Amazon is introducing a.. wall clock. Thankfully it can do at least a little more than just tell us the time by looking at it. Amazon’s new clock connects to Echo devices via Bluetooth. It automatically updates when DayLight Savings changes and includes LEDS mounted around the rim that visually keeps track of your timers.
This is hardly a revolutionary product, but at $30 it’s not ultra-expensvie at least. The clock will arrive sometime later this year.A little icing on the cake
While the hardware announcements were obviously the most exciting, Amazon also unveiled plenty of new services. Below are some of the biggest software features heading to the Alexa family:
Alexa will learn your day-to-day interactions with smart devices and will adjust them accordingly if they’re not in your preferred state, such as a light not turned on at the appropriate time.
This service ties into your smart home devices to send you alerts when you’re not home. It will also turn on lights to help deter potential thieves if needed. It works with security systems provided by ADT and Ring.
This essentially allows you to whisper to Alexa so you’re not shouting “How’s the weather” and waking up your spouse and/or kids.
Routines for Kids
Parents can use Alexa to set Routines based on pre-configured samples. For example, saying, “Alexa, good night” will provide a parent-customized message telling kids to turn off the light and provide sleep-inductive sounds.
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Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter , for Friday, 20 November 2023.
1. Amazon Echo Frames reach second-generation
Remember when Amazon tried some new Echo wearables as part of its “Day One Edition” product line, with invite-only availability?
Two of those are seeing big changes.
First is the bad news, I guess: the $130 Echo Loop ring is dead.
The idea was it had a tiny speaker and it could vibrate on your finger when you get a call or notification.
It was worth a shot because getting silent notifications is not a solved problem yet, and evidently still isn’t. The ring was also pretty thick and unwieldy looking.
Anyway, if you bought one, existing customers are getting “updates and support” at least for now, but it’s no longer in production and not sold.
But more importantly, the Echo Frames smart glasses have been upgraded and they’re going live to the general public.
The second generation of Echo Frames are available to preorder for $250, and moving from invite-only to open to preorders for all.
The basic premise of the pilot product remains the same with the new second-gen smart glasses.
The updates include increased battery life by 40%, automatically power-off when the glasses have been set down for more than three seconds, better sound quality, and smart volume controls adjust automatically to account for ambient noise.
New colors: Classic Black, Horizon Blue and Modern Tortoise.
I needed a reminder of what the glasses actually do, and just to get you up to speed as well, the Frames aren’t about visuals as they are offering Alexa to your ears.
That includes listening to music, listening to books, or asking questions, and hands-free tasks like commanding smart home devices or reading a shopping list as you wander around a shop.
Amazon does offer instructions and help to get prescription lenses fitted from an optometrist but doesn’t offer them itself, by the way.
I am reminded of the original reviews, which went something like: “You have to really love Alexa to want to wear it on your face” (Washington Post), and that almost no one wants to wear glasses if they don’t need glasses.
I wouldn’t mind some smarts being baked into my current glasses, but no way in heck am I paying Amazon to not fit prescription lenses to their limited frames styles.
And charging glasses, which is still via a custom cable, seems like it could be annoying.
2. It’s official: Xiaomi’s new Redmi Note 9 series is coming next week (Android Authority).
3. Google is rolling out end-to-end encryption for RCS in Android Messages beta, after two years of getting there (Android Authority).
4. Why is it so dang hard to place an order for a next-gen console or new NVIDIA graphics card? (The Verge).
5. iOS gamers can now enjoy some cloud streaming gaming, with Google Stadia and NVIDIA’s GeForce Now platforms now working in Safari via web app, bypassing the App Store. Fortnite is effectively back on iPhone/iPad. (TechCrunch).
6. Speed Test G: iPhone 12 vs OnePlus 8T (it’s not really a contest) (Android Authority).
7. iFixit digs into the M1 MacBooks and finds similarities galore, except for that M1 chip (Engadget).
8. Roblox files to go public. Extraordinary numbers: 31 million daily active users, and 22.2 billion engaged hours. You might only know about this if you have kids but the kids just love it (TechCrunch).
9. Don’t be alarmed given the safety changes Boeing has been forced to make, but for flying nerds: How to tell if you’re flying on a recently recertified Boeing 737 MAX (Jalopnik).
10. The Pope’s Instagram account liked a post from a model in a pose probably not seen as particularly …devout. No one’s fessed up, so the Vatican is asking Instagram. Oops. (The Guardian).
11. Deep space isn’t pure black, and scientists don’t know why (NPR).
12. Facing destructive collapse, the famed Arecibo Observatory will be demolished. This was once a major US scientific achievement that is and was critical for astronomy, and fell into dangerous tatters (The Verge).
13. Here are 2023 award-winning wildlife photos (Agora).
14. Rocket Lab launched Electron in a big test of booster recovery, successfully brought the booster down in a parachute (SpaceNews)
15. ELI5: Why are there “hot people” and “cold people,” – like my mum, who is always cold. Why?! (r/explainlikeimfive).
Amazon Echo Auto gives your car an Alexa copilot
Amazon has revealed its first Alexa product for the car, with the Echo Auto set to add the voice assistant to your dashboard. The new gadget may be tiny – smaller than a smartphone, in fact, or a radar detector – but it still manages to fit in the eight microphone array from the new second-generation Echo Show.
That, Amazon says, was required because the cabin of a car is a much tougher place to pick out voices than anywhere in the home. Background road noise, the sound of the radio, and other people talking can get in the way of Alexa understanding, hence the need to squeeze eight microphones inside.
It comes complete with a dashboard mount, so that Echo Auto can be positioned right on the top. It connects to your car’s audio system either via Bluetooth LE, or using an old-school aux-in cord. Your phone will supply the data connection that Amazon needs to communicate with the cloud.
Since it can’t rely on being powered up – and connected – 24/7 like a home Echo smart speaker might, Amazon has switched to a new operating system. This real-time OS is designed to open up “incredibly quickly,” so that you can get going with Alexa without having to wait in the garage.
There’s the ability to ask for Audible audiobooks, which will resume from where you last left off listening on another device. There’s navigation built in, too. Alexa will be able to call up local results after a voice search, and then give turn by turn directions. The Echo Auto will deep link into Waze, Apple Maps, and other third-party mapping apps; if you have your smartphone mounted on a dashboard cradle you’ll be able to see those directions on-screen, too.
In addition, Amazon is adding location-based routines. For instance, you could have the lights at home turn on as your car approaches. Routines will also support delayed actions, too: you could have the lights stay on for a set period after you leave the house, and only then shut off.
Finally, there’ll be Drop In support, so you can make quick voice calls to an Echo at home. Of course, there’ll also be the usual ability to get general knowledge and trivia results from Alexa, together with streaming music.
Amazon has made great progress over the past 18 months, getting automakers to add Alexa support in various ways to their dashboards and infotainment systems. Earlier this week, in fact, it announced a deal with Audi: the new e-tron electric SUV will have Alexa integrated so that you don’t even need a smartphone. Echo Auto, though, will allow drivers to upgrade their own cars.
Amazon Echo Auto will be priced at $49.99, though the retailer is operating an invite scheme for early access. That’ll begin offering devices to customers later this year, priced at $29.99.
This summer’s Macworld in New York is cancelled — sort of.
IDG World Expo, producers of Macworld Conference & Expo Wednesday said it has replaced the July event at the Javits Center with a new show called “CREATE.” The event will take place on the exact same days (July 14-18) with an exhibit floor, open from July 16-18.
And they did it with Apple Computer’s blessing.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker said it will still be a major player at the show and is working with Framingham, Mass.-based IDG to help make an “event where our pro customers can immerse themselves in the latest technologies and solutions.”
“It’s time for a change, and time for an event which addresses the increasingly tech-savvy community,” IDG vice president, business development and operations Colin Crawford said in a statement. “We’re very excited about the new event, and hope the creative community is looking forward to a different kind of learning and networking experience.”
Instead of focusing on new hardware and software, CREATE will be filled with educational programs, including one- and two-day tutorials, two levels of conference sessions for beginner/intermediate and expert users, labs and various feature presentations — each with a different focus.
Seminars include, “Editing Techniques for Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express and iMovie,” “Music Editing on Your Mac,” and “Graphic Design for Online Gaming Development.” Online registration will be available beginning in April.
What is also vastly different about this show is that there will not be any keynote addresses by either Apple CEO Steve Jobs or any of his executive staff. Apple employee Doug Werner is among many presenters. Apple did not say if any of its other executives would be attending the event.
IDG World Expo vice president of sales marketing and Rob Scheschareg told chúng tôi that the Macworld San Francisco show in January 2004 will remain untouched and should actually expand. IDG’s other marquee shows LinuxWorld will also stay the same. Scheschareg said the Linux shows are so popular, that they are looking at expanding them internationally.
So, why the change in plans for New York?
“We realize that budgets are tighter and tighter and it’s harder and harder for people to come to events,” said Scheschareg. “More and more we are seeing that our customers like the focused events where they can have a hands-on experience and really work with professionals to come up with solutions. CREATE will be very much like that.”
Scheschareg said he was not aware of any exhibitor or presenter cancellations and said that the show floor will be a little smaller, but will be replaced with seminars on all three floors.
In fact, Scheschareg said having a non-Mac name to the show opens the door to even more companies that previously would not come to an Apple event.
“Where we see an opportunity is companies that have not worked with us before,” Scheschareg said. “Such is the case with Seybold. We’ve been talking to them for years telling them the benefits of coming to a Macworld. This most definitely opens the door.”
As for next year’s Macworld scheduled for Boston, IDG said it could only look to this summer and Macworld San Francisco.
The organizer has already smoothed over a tiff with Apple concerning a move from New York to Boston.
But speculation is that now departed IDG World Expo president Charlie Greco played a major role in Apple’s decision to tweak the New York event.
Scheschareg said the choice was motivated more by market factors and not by the “actions of one man.”
Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 Insider build adds a significant number of features to Windows 10, including weather and news widgets in the taskbar, new storage settings, and some additional command-line tweaks.Taskbar adds ‘news and interests’ feature
Microsoft already offers two apps within Windows that provide up-to-date information on news and weather—the News and Weather apps, naturally. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed that these apps will be going away, but the company now says that the two will be combined into an “integrated feed of dynamic content” that will be available from the Windows 10 taskbar. Based on a screenshot released by Microsoft, it appears that the taskbar will display the current weather, in a blurb that mirrors the taskbar’s time display.
“Instead of switching between apps or your PC and phone to stay up to date with the news and interests you care about – seamlessly peek into your feed directly from the taskbar anytime you want throughout your day,” Microsoft said in a blog post announcing the new features.
If this taskbar news widget sounds familiar, it should: Last April, Microsoft debuted the Microsoft News Bar, a widget that lives in your taskbar (or along one side of your display) and provided a stream of headlines. News Bar is still listed as a beta app, so it’s possible that Microsoft is replacing it with this new taskbar widget. In any event, there are several ways to use Microsoft’s MSN news service to receive free news, tailored to your interests, from sources and publications you specify. Microsoft’s new widget just adds another.
The news and interests feed combines news and weather information, refreshed throughout the day.
It’s possible that we’re receiving one of our first looks at “Sun Valley,” the proposed Windows 10 UI redesign that has surfaced in the past few days. For one, a job listing (since edited) originally promised applicants that they would be hired to “deliver a sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows experiences to signal to our customers that Windows is BACK.” Windows Central originally reported on the proposed Sun Valley redesign, which could include changes to the Start Menu and Taskbar. Windows Latest has suspected that we’ll see some early looks at the Sun Valley UI in the current Windows feature release, known informally as Windows 21H1, though a more formal rollout of Sun Valley is expected in the 21H2 release this fall. The new taskbar widget could be a preview.
You may be familiar with Storage Sense, a Windows 10 Setting that allows you to see which apps are gobbling up space on your hard drive or SSD. Storage Spaces is an offshoot of that, allowing you to create “pools” of storage. Pools aren’t associated with a specific physical drive, and can be used to create virtual drives that can span more than one disk. They’re especially handy in creating a pool of storage that keeps a redundant copy of your data on a separate disk, to prevent losing data in a disk crash. It’s very much like backing up your data to a cloud or another disk, but it’s performed locally and automatically, without needing you to babysit the process.Tweaks and other changes
Microsoft has also made a few small tweaks to other aspects of Windows:
Your clock’s time zone is now changed automatically. If the PC is sure that you’ve physically moved time zones, your clock’s time zone will now be reset automatically. If it’s not sure, you’ll receive a notification.
Microsoft has also fixed several bugs that shipped in previous versions of the Dev Channel code. A full list is available in the company’s blog post.
Moving up in size takes us to the Eee Pad Slider. Again based on Android 3.0, this tablet features a slide-out keyboard – sort of like a giant slider phone, but with a screen that tilts up. The tablet features Nvidia’s Tegra 2 processor with either 512MB or 1GB of RAM and up to 32GB of flash storage. Obviously a tablet with a sliding keyboard will be a little bulkier than one without, but Asus claims the Eee Pad Slider will weigh under 2.2 pounds and be less than half an inch thick. The 10.1 inch uses an IPS panel with a resolution of 1280 by 800, you get a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera and a 5 megapixel rear camera, and a host of ports: mini-USB, an audio jack, micro SD card reader, a docking port, and mini-HDMI. Asus promises up to 6 hours of mixed-use battery life.
First up is themost conventional of the bunch, the Eee Pad MeMO. A 7-inch tablet based on Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), it’s powered by a Qualcomm 8260 Snapdragon CPU running at 1.2 GHz. You’ll aslo find a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera and 5 megapixel rear camera, along with Micro-SD, Micro HDMI, and Micro USB ports. The 7-inch screen has a resolution of 1024 by 600. Perhaps the most interesting is the built-in stylus for taking hand-written notes. Asus promises 1080p video playback, with pricing and storage size varying by region.
At CES 2011 today, Asus announced three new Android tablets and a Windows 7 based slate PC. The tablets, all Android-based, go by the moniker “Eee Pad” while the Windows 7 device is called an “Eee Slate.” Each one offers some unique features, from stylus input options to sliding keyboards or docking stations. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have exact shipping dates or prices for the Android tablets, and the Eee Slate looks to be fairly pricey.
Eee Pad Transformer Eee Slate EP121
Not to leave Microsoft out in the cold, Asus has a Slate to go along with its tablets: the Eee Slate EP121. Targeting a blend of entertainment and enterprise business use, the EP121 features a 12.1 inch screen with a 1280 by 800 resolution and a nifty twist: this IPS panel is both capacitive multi-touch and support for a Wacom electromagnetic digitizer pen. The unit is powered by an Intel Core i5 470UM ultra low-voltage processor and comes equipped with Windows 7 Home Premium, up to 4GB of RAM, and a 64GB SSD for storage. It comes with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and 2.0 megapixel front-facing camera for online video chat. Of course, it’s considerably thicker and heavier than the Android-based tablets at 0.66 inches thick and just over 2.5 pounds. Asus says the Eee Slate EP121 go on preorder immediately with shipments early in the first quarter, with prices starting at $999 for the version with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The version with 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD should list for only $100 more, which seems like the obvious better choice.
Be sure to check out or CES 2011 page for more news and video from the show.
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