Amazon Releases Video Devices in Massive Echo Announcement
In a large announcement yesterday, Amazon expanded its Echo ecosystem to include everywhere in the home and even the car. The company debuted an Echo clock and subwoofer, as well as an inexpensive way to turn any speaker into an Alexa device. It announced an Alexa-compatible plug and microwave, and an Alexa microphone for the car. And it also announced a few video devices that make streaming even more convenient.
The Echo Show, which includes a screen, has been redesigned, with a bigger 10-inch HD display and a 5 MP camera. Listing for $229 (the same price as the original model), the Echo Show now supports streaming video from Hulu, NBC, and Vevo. The company sees this as a way to stay entertained in the kitchen. Or, the user could call up step-by-step recipes and cook along with it. The Echo Show includes improved speakers, and pairs with an optional $29.99 stand that lets the user adjust the viewing angle. It will ship in October.
That wasn't the company's only video announcement, however, as it also introduced Fire TV Recast, a DVR for recording over-the-air broadcasts. It's meant as a companion device for Fire TV, Echo Show, and Fire, iOS, and Android mobile devices. It requires an HD antenna, and streams to devices inside or outside the home using a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. Fire TV Recast can be placed anywhere in the home, wherever broadcast reception is best.
Amazon is creating two versions of Fire TV Recast: a 2-tuner model with 500GB storage ($229.99), and a 4-tuner model with 1TB of storage ($279.99). That's a one-time price, with no subscription fees. Both models ship November 14.
Developers who want to create skills for Amazon's devices and incorporate video or images on an Echo screen will need to learn Alexa Presentation Language, introduced yesterday. APL is meant for building voice-powered interactive experiences. While it won't support video immediately, Amazon says that's coming in a few months.
Buried by yesterday's Alexa avalanche was news that Facebook will unveil a video chat device next week. Cheddar broke the news that Portal, the social network's device, will come in two sizes (selling for $300 and $400, roughly) and includes a privacy shutter. Portal will also have Alexa voice integration.
The lowest-priced stick device for 4K video—as well as Dolby Vision and HDR-10+ support—the Fire TV Stick 4K lists for $49.99.
In a retaliatory move sure to upset viewers, Google is halting YouTube Streaming to Echo Show and Fire TV devices.