The 2021 Amazon event on September 28 has now wrapped up, but it's left us with a number of new product announcements, and a glimpse of the smart home future Amazon has in mind for us.
Amazon basically previewed everything you can buy in the lead-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2021 (like the Echo Show 15) and beyond (like the Astro home robot that's priced at $999 and can be ordered on an invite-only basis).
This year's Amazon live blog was shorter, just one hour long – but the Amazon home robot sure beat the Amazon Echo Frames, the big surprise the last time we went to an Amazon event in person, a whole two years ago. You can read over the key announcements in the news pieces below:
- Amazon Astro home robot: a 24-hour security guard and smart assistant all rolled into one
- Amazon Glow: a kid-friendly device to video chat and play games with family
- Mickey Amazon Echo Show: new Echo Show stand will turn Alexa into Mickey Mouse
- Halo View: Amazon challenges Fitbit with super-cheap Halo View fitness tracker
- Smart Thermostat: Amazon launches the Alexa Smart Thermostat to rival Google Nest
- Blink Video Doorbell: Blink's first smart doorbell camera can last up to two years on battery and costs a lot less than Ring
- Ring Alarm Pro: a security system and Wi-fi 6 router, all-in-one
- Ring camera drone: Ring’s home security drone is one step closer to going on sale
The Amazon devices launch event happens in about 30 minutes, and we're already gearing up our liveblog for announcements. There are tons of rumors circulating about new Echo speakers (almost a given) that's part of a soundbar and maybe that long-rumored wall-mounted screen (fancy!). The fabled Amazon drone is also said to be ready for this event, but we haven't seen concrete leaks ahead of time.
We're less than 10 mins from the Amazon event. It's NOT live streaming, but you can follow along with our Amazon live blog for real-time updates on what's being announced. Two years ago, we got to join Amazon in Seattle to hear all of the gadgets it wanted to bring to the Amazon store, from new speakers to Echo frames to a microwave. Be prepared for the generic (TV stuff) to the surreal (drones?)
Something to keep in mind: all of the companies that Amazon has acquired over the years, so we should see new smart lock or security devices from Ring today, and we often see eero WiFi devices make an appearance around this time of year.
Amazon began with a family-focused Amazon gadget-filled intro video ahead of Dave Limp, Senior Vice President devices and services, taking the stage at Amazon's 'Spheres' headquarters in Seattle.
While the opening video didn't reveal new gadgets, we expect a lot of things to be announced over the next two hours for both Amazon devices and services, and Limp's job title would suggest.
Note, this is the first Amazon event since Andy Jassy became the CEO of the company. Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos retired in early July 2021.
Amazon goes big on privacy to start the live blog
First announcement deals with privacy: Soon, you'll be able to have all of your voice requests processed locally on-device instead of the cloud. This applies to Echo Show 10 and current-gen Echo devices.
Amazon Smart Thermostat at a very competitive price
And here's the first big device announcement: Amazon Smart Thermostat is coming for just $59.99 (priced well to rival Google Nest products) and you can pre-order it starting today. It's made in partnership with thermostat experts Honeywell and it'll, of course, respond to Alexa commands and you can setup routines.
"Amazon customers can live more sustainably," according to Limp.
Echo Show 15 – Amazon thinks your need kitchen TV
The Amazon Echo Show 15 is probably going to be the biggest product that Amazon announces today. It'll cost $249.99, launching later this year. It's pretty neat. This 15.6-inch touchscreen will stick to the wall (not sure how yet, but you'll want to make sure this thing is secure – you can also have it on a little stand for the countertop).
Amazon seems to be imagining this in the kitchen, and it may be the smallest kitchen TV for the mass market. You can have it in any orientation (landscape or portrait).
The Echo Show 15 will be run by Amazon's new AZ2 Neural Engine chipset and the display is full of helpful widgets to inform your day and can do live camera views with Picture-in-Picture. Apps like Sling TV are coming to the Echo Show 15, too.
This thing looks much cooler than past Amazon Echo Show devices. Is it worth $250, though? We'll be the judge of that in a forthcoming Echo Show 15 review.
Hey, Disney. Amazon is partnering with you
Amazon and Disney are announcing a huge partnership to not only launch a Mickey Mouse Echo, but create the hot-word Hey Disney and commands they will help make your visit to their theme parks easier. And, of course, it uses Disney characters to talk back to you.
'Hey, Disney!’ has been designed to make the Alexa experience more magical with jokes, interactive trivia, greetings, soundscapes, and more. And in addition to familiar characters from stories you know and love, Disney also created a new persona—the Disney Magical Companion—to be your guide through all the content and features.
Amazon Glow – this is where Amazon gets weird... and interesting
Amazon just announced something called Amazon Glow, which includes a screen and a built-in projector that shines on a table in front of this odd-looking device.
This is where the Amazon liveblog gets weird... and interesting. The use case is heart-warming, at least: to help kids call their grandparents. The old folks on on the screen, while a game or reading projection is seen on a table in front of the device. Partners providing content include Disney, Mattel, Nickelodeon and Sesame Street, according to Amazon.
The cost isn't going to dip into the kid's inheritance, though: it's going to cost $250 for this novelty video phone, and it'll only be available through Amazon's Day One program, so you'll need an invite to get it.
Amazon Halo (no not that Halo) gets a sequel (no, not Halo 2)
There's a new fitness tracker from Amazon's Halo line called Halo View. This thin Fitbit-like activity tracker costs $79.99 and comes with a one-year fitness membership so you can escape the monthly fee.
Amazon is expanding the fitness service with Halko Fitness (where 'industry experts' lead classes) and Halo Nutrition (meal planner that helps you plan and handle groceries. This Connects with Alexa Shopping list and is coming early next year).
This is MUCH better than the original Amazon Halo fitness tracker, which didn't have a screen. The Amazon Halo View includes an AMOLED color display to show health metrics, and live workout tracking, and more.
Amazon is promising seven-day battery life so you should be able to wear it all week without charging it. It's also water-resistant so you can swim with it on, and it comes in three sports band colors with a variety of additional sports, fabric, metal, and leather band options.
Would you let an Amazon drone patrol your home?
The Amazon Ring Always Home Cam drone is a repeat from last year, but it's now graduating from the company's experimental Day One program and actually going on sale for $249.99.
This Ring device (Amazon owns Ring) is neat because the camera isn't stationary. It can fly around your house and check around corners, just in case there's something happening in the shadows. Tom Clancy's Sam Fisher and Metal Gear's Solid Snake wouldn't stand a chance in a Ring Always Home Cam drone-protected home, right.
More serious Ring and Blink security products
Ring Alarm Pro is up for pre-order staring today and it's not just the keypad included security system: it has absorbed the eero Wi-Fi 6 mesh router (hence the price hike over the normal Ring Alarm systems). In addition to the keypad, there are window and door sensors, a doorbell camera, and the subscription monitoring service that ties them all together for a monthly fee.
Amazon Astro robot and it's cute – except it costs $999
Amazon just took the wraps off another 'out there' device. Amazon Astro is a $999 little robot that has eyes that blink and roams around your budding smart home.
Astro has autonomous movement, can do home mapping (like a Roomba) and has visual understanding (please mention privacy a lot during this bit, Amazon). This is probably the coolest thing Amazon is going to announce today.
You may not or may not have the privilege to pay Amazon $999 for this two-wheeled robot. It's another wild product that's part of the Amazon Day One programing, meaning you'll have to be lucky enough to be selected to get an invite to take home (or have delivered) this little buddy.
Yes, Amazon announced a cute robot. You'll either love it or hate it
The Amazon Astro appears to have wrapped up the Amazon event live blog for 2021, and really, spotlighting the helpfulness of a robot – or so some the impending doom of a robot army – is probably the best way Amazon could have capped off its event.
This launch event didn't last two hours like it did in past years – just a little over one hour this time around, but we're glad you could join us.
The $999 Astro home robot is going to be what everyone talks about today, but the $250 Echo Show 15 and $59 Amazon Smart Thermostat are going to be more the practical here and now gadgets for your kitchen and home respectively, while Amazon Glow has some interesting prospects for connecting kids with nearby relatives and friends while going through content from Disney, Sesame Street and other kid-friendly brands