Amazon introduces new Echo Dot models, a bedside sleep tracker, and read-and-write Kindle

Amazon 2022 hardware launch.
PHOTO: Amazon

Amazon updated plenty of its consumer hardware products in a single launch, with new Echo smart speakers, a beside sleep tracker, and its first Kindle that can do both reading and writing.

Let's get straight into what these new products offer.

Amazon Echo and Echo Dot with Clock with new features

Fifth-generation Amazon Echo Dot.
PHOTO: Amazon

First among its new Echo smart speakers are the 5th-generation Amazon Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock, which see new sensors, better audio, tap gesture controls, upgraded displays, and the ability to act as a Wi-Fi extender for your home.

For starters, Amazon added an accelerometer to both Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock, letting users control the device by tapping its top to pause music, dismiss timers, or end calls.

There's also a temperature sensor in these smart speakers, which adds temperature-related Alexa voice controls.

For example, you can now tell the Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock to start up a smart fan if it's getting too hot indoors.

Fifth-generation Amazon Echo Dot with Clock.
PHOTO: Amazon

For the Echo Dot with Clock, the clock feature gets an "upgraded high-density dot technology", which offers more glance values.

Besides the time, you can now check details like song title and artist name, the weather, a unit of measurement, calendar events and timings, and other nuggets of information when asking Alexa.

As a speaker, these two Echo devices have a "redesigned audio architecture" that contains a full-range driver with even better excursion for its speakers.

There were no changes to the form factor, which makes Amazon chalk up this improvement as a huge upgrade.

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Also, the new Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock come with Eero on the device, making the new smart speakers act as a mesh Wi-Fi extender.

While it requires an existing Eero mesh Wi-Fi network, doing so would add wireless coverage of 1,000sqft (92sqm, about the size of a four-room HDB unit).

The older, fourth-generation Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock will also get over-the-air firmware updates to get built-in Eero in the coming months, too.

The new, fifth-generation 2022 Echo Dot comes in Deep-Sea Blue and fan favourite colours Charcoal and Glacier White, at US$49.99.

Echo Dot with Clock goes at US$59.99 (S$71.52) in Cloud Blue and Glacier White. Pre-orders are available now, with shipping to begin in October 2022. 

New designs for Amazon Echo Dot Kids

Amazon Echo Dot Kids in Dragon motif.
PHOTO: Amazon

The kids version of the Echo Dot now comes in two new funky designs: Owl and Dragon.

The features are otherwise similar to existing Echo Dot Kids, where caretakers can enable parental controls, filter explicit content, and review usage in the Amazon Parent Dashboard.

Each unit also comes with one year of Amazon Kids+ subscription, a kids-focused, ad-free content service to books, games, videos, audiobooks, and songs.

Echo Dot Kids (in Dragon and Owl) retail at US$59.99, with the same pre-order and shipping availability as other new Echo devices.

Slimmer Echo Auto for in-car voice commands

2nd-generation Amazon Echo Auto.
PHOTO: Amazon

The second-generation Amazon Echo Auto sports a slimmer design and a new adhesive mount for easier attachment in your personal car.

This in-car smart speaker has five microphones to catch your voice commands despite road noise or the low hum of your air conditioning unit.

The new Echo Auto goes at US$59.99 with the same pre-order and shipping availability as other new Echo devices.

Echo Studio gets spatial audio

Amazon Echo Studio in Glacier White.
PHOTO: Amazon

While the Amazon Echo Studio doesn't get any hardware upgrades, it now comes in a new Glacier White colour.

What's also added is Amazon's proprietary Spatial Audio technology, helping to upmix (audio upscaling by converting stereo to surround sound) your soundtracks and show audio with greater soundstage and better 3D mapping.

This is on top of existing Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio support for the Echo Studio.

While Echo Studio gets this new audio technology first, other compatible Echo devices will receive Amazon Spatial Audio technology later.

Echo Studio goes at US$199, and you can check out the new Glacier White colourway here.

Halo Rise bedside sleep tracker  

Amazon Halo Rise.
PHOTO: Amazon

Amazon introduced a new smart appliance called the Halo Rise, which the brand touted as a multi-purpose bedside tracker "dedicated to helping improve your sleep".

It's very much a highly advanced bedside clock that has low-energy sensors and machine learning trained with overnight polysomnography (clinical sleep analysis).

The Halo Rise gives users a detailed sleep summary, which includes a graph that shows each sleep phase (REM, light, deep), a sleep score, and additional information about your sleeping environment.

It factors in metrics like room temperature, humidity, and ambient light levels, It even provides a wake-up light to simulate gradual sunrise for better waking habits. 

PHOTO: Amazon

Halo Rise is also compatible with Alexa, where you can provide voice commands and personal the bedside sleep tracker even further.

Included on the device is a digital clock, a 300-lux LED wake-up light, a speaker for alarms, and built-in buttons.

Amazon Halo Rise retails at US$139.99 with six months of Halo membership, with shipping to begin "later this year".

Unfortunately, this cool product is limited to US customers for the time being. 

Amazon Kindle Scribe, its first e-reader with writing capabilities

Amazon Kindle Scribe with included, battery-free stylus called Pen.
PHOTO: Amazon

Most folks would be familiar with an Amazon Kindle – it's an e-reader for your digital books. The newest Kindle, however, offers e-reading on top of paper-like writing, making it Amazon's first read-and-write e-reader.

Amazon Kindle Scribe has a 10.2-inch, 300 PPI, auto-adjusting Paperwhite display panel.

The included stylus (which Amazon calls it a pen) does not require charging and magnetically attaches to the Kindle's side.

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Supported scribing features include annotating and drawing directly on PDF documents and creating digital sticky notes. From early 2023, the Kindle Scribe gets the ability to send documents from Microsoft Word. 

There are two types of pens available: Basic and Premium.

Premium Pen gets additional features like a top-mounted eraser and a customisable shortcut button on the stylus itself, although both types will support erasing and highlighting features nonetheless.

Amazon Kindle Scribe starts at US$339 with 16, 32, and 64GB storage options, coming with a battery-free Basic Pen or a Premium Pen.

It comes in one Tungsten colourway, with the option to pick from three different covers (Fabric, Leather, and Premium Leather).

This article was first published in HardwareZone.