Amazon has updated its range of devices ahead of the holiday shopping season. The news mainly affect the Echo and Kindle families, with the introduction of new Echo Dot models and the Kindle Scribe, the first Amazon ebook reader equipped with a pen for annotating and writing: it belongs more to the domain of tablets than to that of readers. of electronic books. There are also news for the Fire TV range and finally Amazon branded televisions with integrated Alexa are available: for now they are only available in the USA, as well as other minor innovations.
The rumors of the past few weeks have proved correct: Amazon was working on its first Kindle equipped with a stylus. It’s called Kindle Scribe and it’s considerably bigger than all the other Kindles ever launched so far: it has a 10.2 ”Paperwhite screen with a resolution of 300ppi, anti-glare coverage and front lighting. It is only 5.8mm thick and in design recalls the lines of the Kindle Oasis, with a wider side bezel to facilitate grip. As already on the Oasis, we imagine that the orientation can be changed to favor the grip for both right-handers and left-handers.
The pen included with the product does not need to be refilled and adds new writing features to the classic ones of reading books and documents. It is available in Basic and Premium versions: both clip onto the side edge of the device with a magnet, but the top version of the stylus also includes an “eraser” on top and a hotkey that you can use to switch between the two. various functions of writing, highlighting or creating a new note. With the basic version, the same functions can be selected manually from the “writing” menu.
With Kindle Scribe, Amazon opens a new era for Kindles with e-ink screens: now they are no longer just devices for use but also become tools for creating content. The public appreciation for the niche of tablet-readers with e-ink displays for handwriting, such as the Remarkable, shows that there is demand for this type of product. For the Kindle Scribe, Amazon says it drew inspiration from the “billions of notes and highlights added to books by readers over the years,” suggesting that this will, at least in intentions, be the primary use case for the new Scribe.
However, Kindle Scribe’s features aren’t limited to just annotations on Kindle Store ebooks. You can also take notes and save them using special “templates”, write a diary, keep track of your activities with to-do lists, or even take notes during meetings on virtual sheets of paper. All activities are saved in the cloud. In early 2023, Amazon will update the Kindle apps for mobile devices, introducing the ability to view (and perhaps even edit) the notes and documents saved by the tablet. Instead, you can immediately send documents to the Kindle Scribe with the Send-to-Kindle function, including Wor files. In 2023, Microsoft will eventually update the program to send documents to Kindle Scribe directly from the document export menu.
Kindle Scribe can already be pre-ordered on Amazon and shipments are expected to start as early as next month. Prices start at € 369.99 for the base model with 16GB of storage and the Basic pen.
The new Echo
The Seattle-based company also revamped the Echo family of devices with two new Echo Dots, with and without a built-in clock, plus an update to the current Echo Studio model. In the case of the high-end speaker, the upgrade concerns the firmware and audio processing systems. Amazon has improved spatial audio processing technology, widening the frequency range and enhancing the stereo effect. The hardware, on the other hand, does not change, as does the design, but there is a new ice white color: you can already pre-order it for 199.99 euros and it will arrive next month. The audio news will also come in the form of an update for those who already own an Echo Studio.
The two new Echo Dot models have been partially redesigned and now include a new full-range speaker, with clearer and deeper bass. Both are very similar in design to the current fourth generation models but integrate a new temperature sensor. This addition expands the capabilities of the virtual assistant: it can be used to create Alexa routines that activate the air conditioner or a smart thermostat when a threshold temperature is reached.
On the new Echo Dot there is also an accelerometer that enables gesture control of the device. Just touch the top of the sphere to pause the music or restart playback, stop a timer or delay an alarm. On the previous model it was always necessary to press one of the physical control buttons (present however also on these models). The latter feature is particularly useful for the clock version of the Echo Dot, which appears to have been designed specifically as a clock radio for the bedside table. The hours and minutes are displayed thanks to a high-density LED screen: it not only displays the time, but can also show the title of a song, the name of an artist, the result of an arithmetic calculation, the temperature or an answer by Alexa.
As already on the previous Echo Dot models, there is finally a physical button to instantly disable the microphone: it is easy to see and indicates in a simple and immediately understandable way whether the device is listening or not.
“Our environmental computing solutions work behind the scenes to offer our customers increasingly complex solutions and improved experiences in everyday life, seamlessly,” Dan Dery, Amazon Vice President responsible for devices, explained to Italian Tech. Echo and Alexa. “The Echo and Alexa products are obviously at the heart of our vision. Our aim is to make every possible interaction immediate, simple and intuitive, whether the devices are controlled by voice or by direct interaction “.
The new generation Echo Dot costs € 59.99 and is available in anthracite and ice white. Echo Dot with clock instead costs € 69.99 and can be bought in pale blue and ice white. Both are available for pre-order today, with shipments starting in October.
No hardware updates at this time for the Echo Show, Alexa devices with a built-in screen. However, there is an interesting software news for the Echo Show 15 model. With a software update, the device can also be used as a TV thanks to the implementation of the Fire TV interface. Finally, also presented a new Echo Auto, the device that brings Alexa in the car. The new version is smaller and has a new option to attach it to the dashboard with an adhesive backing. At the moment, however, it is only available in the United States.
Among the devices presented today that will not arrive in Italy yet, there is also Halo Rise, a new type of sleep tracker that is positioned on the bedside table: it can measure sleep states and measure qualitative parameters of the bedroom to provide an accurate analysis. the quality of rest.
Fire TV, new remote control and Qled TVs
Finally, Amazon also presented a new Fire TV Cube and the Alexa Pro Voice Remote Control. The new third generation Fire TV Cube has the same design as the previous model, the performance is 20% higher thanks to a new 2 octa-core processor. , 0 GHz: the interface is now even more fluid and snappy, they say from Amazon, and apps open faster.
Like the second generation Fire TV Cube, the new model also offers support for 4K streaming, Dolby Vision, HDR Video and Dolby Audio. On the new model, Amazon has introduced compatibility with Wi-Fi 6E and the possibility of using Super Resolution Upscaling to increase the resolution of lower definition content than 4K thanks to an algorithm.
The most important novelty, however, is the presence of an HDMI input port, which allows you to bring together and control all multimedia entertainment devices through the device interface, including for example the cable box. The interface of the Fire TV Cube already provided the ability to access live television channels, but until now the connection was via the internet. Obviously, Alexa is not missing, which allows you to control the TV directly with your voice and a USB port that allows you to connect a webcam for video calls.
For those wishing to make the most of Alexa’s potential with all other Fire TV devices, Amazon now offers a new product: the Alexa Pro Voice Remote Control. As the name suggests, it is a new remote designed around the voice control function. In addition to a set of customizable buttons and motion-activated backlighting, it also features a new device search function – just say “Alexa, find remote” and follow the audible prompts to locate it quickly.
The third generation Fire TV Cube costs 159.99 euros, while the Alexa Pro Voice Remote Control can be bought for 39.99 euros. Both are currently available for pre-order on the Amazon website.
Fire TV Cube and the Alexa Pro Voice Remote Control are not the only “television” innovations presented today. Amazon has also introduced Omni Qled Fire TVs. There are two models, one 65 “and one 75”. They are both equipped with 4K Quantum Dot displays with 96 dimming zones, support Dolby Vision IQ and HDR 10+ and obviously integrate Alexa to control television features or any other devices connected to the home network.
At the moment they only arrive in the United States and Canada, but there are particular obstacles to a subsequent introduction also on the European and Italian market, as has already happened in the past for other products of the Amazon Fire TV series.