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 Amazon is holding a launch event today at its Seattle headquarters to show off a new set of devices and features. While the king of e-commerce isn’t offering more details on what we’ll see, the presentation is likely to include new Echo products, Amazon’s popular line of speakers powered by its Alexa voice assistant. The event starts at 10 a.m. PT.

Ben Fox Rubin, Ry Crist and Tyler Lizenby are on the ground in Seattle bringing you all the live updates and photos.


Follow CNET’s live blog here for all the updates from today’s event.


After Amazon first launched the original Echo in 2014, the device became a hit for the company and helped usher in a new era of voice computing. Now, AppleGoogleSamsung and Microsoft are racing to build up their own voice assistants and integrate them into more devices to catch up to Amazon. To stay one step ahead, Amazon aggressively expanded its line of Echo devices, pushed Alexa into hospitality and office spaces, and integrated Alexa with over 20,000 kinds of devices.

Along with the Echo, Amazon has seen success in its equally unflashy but low-priced Fire tablets and Fire TV video streamers. Its rare miss — and it was a big one — was for the Fire Phone, which quickly failed after coming out in 2014.

While we wait for the event to begin, let’s cycle through what new products we expect to see from Amazon today:

A bunch of new smart-home products: CNBC reported Monday that Amazon will unveil at least eight new Alexa-enabled devices by year’s end. Those products include “a microwave oven, an amplifier, a receiver, a subwoofer, and an in-car gadget,” CNBC said, citing unnamed people familiar with Amazon’s plans.

On Wednesday, the UK tech site Pocket-lint said it found pages on Amazon.co.uk of the subwoofer and a new smart plug, too.

Those products could help Amazon build up its strength in home automation, but also put Amazon in competition with companies like Sonos and Bose, which have already created audio equipment that works with Alexa.

 

 

 

 

Echo Show: This seems to be the most likely device to come out today. The Echo Show, which was released last June, became the first Echo device with a touchscreen (though Alexa is also built into Amazon’s tablets, too). The Show’s boxy, bulky design and thick plastic border around its screen instantly made it look outdated in an age of thinner smartphones with nearly edge-to-edge displays.

Competing Google Assistant-powered smart displays were introduced at this year’s CES show and some offered prettier designs, putting more pressure on Amazon to up its game.

Amazon has seemed to hint at a new Echo Show by cutting the current Show’s price by $100, apparently to clear out inventory for a new product.

The Show sits in an important position in the Echo lineup. Amazon is trying to get people to use its big screen for voice shopping, watching videos and making video phone calls, helping make the device — and Alexa — a more integral part of the day. But, an ongoing spat with Google means the Show currently can’t play YouTube videos, a big downside for the product.

new-echo-dot-product-photos-1.jpg
The Echo Dot.

Echo Dot: This little guy is by far the best seller of the Echo lineup, accounting for over half of all Echo device sales in the US, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. Its $50 price tag has encouraged people to buy several to put all over their homes. Considering that fact, a new Echo Dot would easily be the most important announcement from the event.

In July, two grainy images of what may be the new Dot were published by two lesser-known French sites. No, that’s not much to go on, so we’ll see.

Granted, the Dot could use a refresh, since its latest version came out in October 2016. The Dot’s sound quality is noticeably worse than the similarly priced Google Home Mini and its plastic hockey-puck-shaped body isn’t attractive either.

Echo Plus: This $150 Echo was introduced last year. It uses the original Echo design but includes improved audio and a built-in hub to make it easier to connect it to smart-home gadgets.

The Echo Plus is currently discounted and otherwise out of stock on Amazon, a strong hint that it’s getting a refresh.

Amazon Tap: This is a portable Alexa-powered speaker that, for some reason, didn’t receive the Echo name. The Tap appears to have been quietly discontinued, with only used and refurbished devices now available on Amazon. According to Adobe, the Tap was a poor seller. It’s possible this device will be gone for good as Amazon looks to slim down its long list of Echo products.

Ring integration: Amazon in April completed its reported $1 billion deal for the video doorbell company Ring. While Ring’s devices already works with Alexa, it’s possible this event will include some new features. One could be an integration with Amazon Key, the company’s in-home delivery program.

Last year’s Echo launch event included six new Alexa-enabled devices, so expect at least one or two surprises, like last year’s brightly colored Echo Buttons, which are used for games.

 

TheTechTea
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