Five Big Takeaways From Amazon’s Latest Hardware Event

It’s all about cloud gaming and house-patrolling security drones

Amazon Echo
Most of Amazon's devices are getting a spherical makeover

Amazon’s announcements don’t make the same splash as Apple’s — and maybe that’s because their “events” aren’t streaming anywhere.

But yesterday’s rather quick Hardware Event, which ended in under an hour, still brought out a lot of new and bold products. For now, we’ll ignore the updates to Eero, Fire TV, the Echo Show that pivots to where you’re moving and most of the kids’ devices to concentrate on the “wow” releases (and a few “wow, what were they thinking” moments).

Five things that stood out to me:

Amazon Echo

Everything is now a sphere

The new Echo speaker is decidedly well-rounded — besides the new shape, it adapts to sound acoustics in your room and costs just $100. New versions of the Echo Dot and Echo Dot With Clock also debuted spherical renditions, while the Echo Dot Kids Edition will have character designs. For being so new, it didn’t stop more than one commentator to note that these 2020 speakers resemble an old Nexus release.

Amazon is making a case that they care about the environment

The company announced around 25,000 products across all categories will receive a “Climate Pledge Friendly” designation — these items will also get a special section on the site and information on their sustainability efforts. As well, Amazon will note certain items as “Compact by Design,” an externally validated certification that identifies products that have a more efficient design.

The company also says it’s building new wind and solar farms to offset the energy use of their products; on top of that, Amazon’s smart devices will have low-power modes and dashboards to show how much energy you’re using.

Alexa is learning (be afraid?)

The AI and voice assistant will better be able to handle requests and conversations — it will actually listen and “know” if you’re talking to the device or another person — and also respond more accurately to clarifying questions and even adjust tone. 

There are also new commands to wipe out recordings and protect your privacy, but we’ll have to see how well that works before commenting. 

Always Home Cam

There’s now a drone that’ll patrol your home

In lieu of a multiple-camera home security system, you can now instead grab this $250 indoor flying camera (the Always Home Cam, technically part of the Ring camera product line) that’ll fly in whatever path your program and dock at home when it’s done — the camera will switch off once it lands.


They’re embracing gaming

Luna is Amazon’s new cloud-based gaming system, available on PC, Mac, Fire TV, iPad/iPhone and Android. Right now (well, invite only) they’ll start with different channels at $5.99/month, with games like Control, Resident Evil VII and Sonic Mania on the Luna+ channel, and Far Cry 6, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and more on Ubisoft+. And everything will have a major tie-in to the Amazon-owned Twitch, natch.

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