As Google seems complacent, Amazon continues to push forward with smart home innovation
We've had smart speakers for nearly a decade now, with the Alexa-powered Amazon Echo kicking things off in 2014. Since then, there have been loads of changes in this space, with multiple companies trying to beat the competition by providing users with the best smart speaker experience possible. Some opted to use Google Assistant while others partnered with Alexa, but regardless of the choice, these digital assistants work to make our lives easier — sometimes.
New Echo hardware, smart security cameras, Fire TV Sticks, and more
Amazon held its Devices and Services event this week, and as usual, the company announced a ton of new stuff coming soon. There was a lot of focus on near-future AI-driven improvements to the Alexa experience, but Amazon also introduced all kinds of new and updated products that are coming this year, from smart displays to cameras to streaming devices and more. Here are the ones you can preorder today.
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Weatherproof lighting for a connected and customizable smart home exterior
Consistently one of the most popular additions to new and established smart homes, smart lighting's great for ambiance, security, convenience, energy savings, and sometimes even a fun, festive atmosphere.
A new Fire tablet, suite of games, and smart speakers were introduced
Earlier this week, Amazon hosted its Devices & Services event to give a preview of the products it has in its pipeline. Many of them fell into the smart home category, and AI seemed to be a dominant theme across the board. However, children were not left out of the presentation — Amazon was prepared and ready to meet the needs of parents with kids of all ages. During the event, the company announced several products and services, including a Fire tablet and a new smart speaker, just for children.
Smart displays once seemed like the future of Google, but now, these devices feel like they're heading off into the sunset
Digital voice assistants, smart speakers, and folding phones — if I didn't know better, I'd say we've entered the sci-fi world Hollywood promised us for decades now. But while these products definitely provide some useful benefits, in many ways, we're still waiting for that glorious utopia. I've been using smart speakers since the first Amazon Echo in 2014. I remember being blown away by the convenience it provided with quick answers, streaming music, and nailing simple tasks like timers. At the time, I thought to myself about how great having a Google variant inside one of these as the space matured.
Amazon's dropping big discounts on Eero Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers this week
There's nothing more frustrating than having a shoddy internet connection, especially at home. Whether your finishing up an important project for work, or just kicking back in the evening streaming a movie, slow net speeds and a spotty connection can be a real headache to deal with. In most cases, however, these issues can be resolved with a new router setup with the latest firmware to ensure your connection is stable and reliable. This purchase isn't always cheap to make, though, and some the best Wi-Fi 6 routers cost hundreds of dollars.
Turn your Google Smart Display into the perfect digital photo frame!
Google Smart Displays like the Google Nest Hub and the Nest Hub Max are the best devices to view glanceable information like the current weather and your upcoming appointments, control your smart home devices, and play music. One of our favorite features of Google Smart Display is its ability to display photos saved in Google Photos. With tight integration with the Google Photos app, which hosts our memories, the Google Smart Displays become the perfect digital photo frame.
The Nest Hub Max is about to lose the only thing that makes it useful
Google's Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max smart displays are excellent for controlling your smart home and video chatting with family or friends. For better or worse, the latter functionality is the new way of doing business and staying in touch with people you need to connect with frequently. Smart displays allow you to chat hands-free without using your phone or computer, and the Nest Hub Max, with its 6.5MP camera, was specifically designed for this purpose. However, this is about to change as Google appears to be killing the smart display's video calling functionality later this month.
The mountable display is compatible with more than 140,000 devices
There is a wide array of smart home device manufacturers on the market, with big tech companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google leading the industry. Whether you prefer to exclusively use devices from one of these manufacturers or you have a varied collection, they can quickly add up. Products like the Echo Dot and Google Nest Mini can blend into the background around your house, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to manage them. If you want to consolidate your devices and streamline the management process, Amazon has launched a new product for your smart home needs.
Need a smart doorbell, but can't work with Ring devices? Here are some excellent Ring video doorbell alternatives.
The Ring doorbell has been a runaway success, but for many homeowners in 2023, the honeymoon with Amazon's popular security company is over. Like Eufy, Amazon's Ring has been embroiled in a security scandal with suspected hacking, with Ring in particular racking up a multi-million dollar settlement over privacy violations.
The software centralizes your devices in one go-to hub
Even if you didn’t intend on becoming reliant on a Ring doorbell or Google Nest Hub, these devices likely snuck their way into your home over time. Companies like Amazon and Google continue to give away these products as a part of promotions, and it’s hard to say no to the convenience of home automation. However, these devices rarely play well together, making them difficult to manage across an entire home. Worst of all, it can be a nightmare to track them across different apps on your mobile device. Home Assistant has resolved many of these pain points with its open-source home automation software, but people are often intimidated by its tech. This is where Home Assistant Green comes in, a new piece of hardware that can streamline device management without punishing your wallet.
With a centered camera, improved sound, a new home screen, and improved Alexa support
Amazon's hosting its big device-focused event for 2023 today, where the company usually takes the stage for a whirlwind hour filled with new gadgets ahead of the holiday season. While today's event is focused on big upgrades to Alexa — it is the year of AI, after all — it didn't take long for the company to unveil its first big refresh. Amazon is delivering a new Echo smart display, and you won't have to wait too long to get your hands on it.
Create a customized smart home experience that works with Matter
While smart home devices are all unique, they all share one important goal: to help make your life easier. The only issue is that with so many smart home devices by so many different manufacturers, each with a dedicated app, it can make a mess of your phone pretty quickly. Wouldn't it be easier if there was just one central app for everything?
Is your home not smart enough? Teach it a few things with some upcoming deals this October
No, you're not seeing double; Amazon Prime Big Deal Days, the second Prime event of the year, will be here this October with hundreds of thousands of sales coming for everything from the snazziest smartphones to the best smart home gadgets of every size, shape, and color. These gadgets can transform regular appliances, speakers, lights, and controls into intelligent devices, but their high costs can often deter some consumers.
Citing 'a recent legal decision,' Google has removed the ability to add its devices to multiple speaker groups at once
Early last year, as part of an ongoing and well documented legal feud with Sonos, Google had the choice to either change the way its smart speakers work or stop selling them in the US entirely. Unsurprisingly, it chose the former, resulting in changes to the way group volume controls function in Chromecast speaker groups. Now, citing "a recent legal decision," Google says that new Nest devices will only be able to be added to a single speaker group at any given time.
Let Google keep your home the perfect temperature with any of these great smart thermostats
Smart thermostats haven't seen much innovation in the last year, but that's not a bad thing. On the contrary, a few refined, updated releases and continued software upgrades are testaments to how great some of the leading smart thermostats still are. Today's top models are better than ever at responding to inputs, keeping you comfortable, and lowering your energy bill. Smart homes built around the popular Google Assistant ecosystem have some great options to choose from, and there's a slew of great Alexa smart thermostats, too, if Amazon's voice assistant is more your flavor.
This Blink security bundle is on sale for a limited time only if you have a Prime subscription
Tired of paying a fortune for home security? There are more affordable options out there, including our favorite smart home security systems that offer a great way to keep an eye on your home for even less. And right now, the Blink Video Doorbell and outdoor cameras are on sale for up to 61% off at Amazon, though this deal is expiring soon.
The new Ring Indoor Cam shutters privacy concerns, but at a higher price than a lot of the competition
Ring is one of the leading makers of home security products. The brand, which is one of Amazon’s many subsidiaries, is popular for its smart video doorbells, as well as its Ring Alarm. As it offers a complete ecosystem dedicated to home security, it also manufactures an impressive number of security cameras, both for outdoor and indoor use.
There are many quality models available to help keep your home safe without the wire
Smart home surveillance is one of the best things to come out of the connectivity frenzy of the last several years. With everything from indoor/outdoor cams to motion and temperature sensors landing in our homes, you can lock down every square inch of your property, and you usually only have to worry about a Wi-Fi connection. In fact, where low-voltage wiring was once a chief consideration for these many peripherals, more and more product developers are now outfitting these security gadgets with rechargeable batteries!