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Everything Amazon announced this week: Alexa 2.0, Echo Show 8, Fire TV, more

Amazon is integrating generative artificial intelligence into Alexa and refreshing several Echo and Fire TV products.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Amazon event stage 2023
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Amazon is constantly looking for new ways to innovate through hardware and software, from Echo devices to new Alexa capabilities. This week, the company held its annual Devices and Services event at its new headquarters in Arlington, Virginia to unveil new updates for Alexa, a new Echo Show, Fire tablets, and a slew of Fire TV updates.

Also: Amazon is refreshing its Fire TV products with generative AI features. Here's what's new

Last year, we saw the launch of the Kindle Scribe, a new generation of Echo Dot and Fire TV Cube, the addition of spatial audio to the Echo Studio, a Fire TV Pro Remote, and the eero built-in capability added to some Echo devices. This year, Amazon is launching new Fire TV Sticks, a new Soundbar, and Alexa is seeing the biggest makeover of the voice assistant's virtual life.

Generative AI for Alexa

Echo Show 8
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Google Assistant is getting a generative AI boost, so why not Alexa? Amazon just announced that it's adding generative AI to its popular virtual assistant.

Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa already use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning as a basis for their natural language-processing platforms. This allows them to respond to your questions, follow commands, and perform tasks in a conversational way as if you were talking to another person.

Also: Amazon is turning Alexa into a hands-free ChatGPT

However, these systems are different from generative AI. If you ask Alexa a question about something, it'll likely begin its answer with something like "According to an Alexa Answers contributor…". This difference is because Alexa can access information online and parrot it to you, but it cannot generate those answers.

Adding generative AI capabilities to Alexa will allow the virtual assistant to create answers for you instead of looking them up online. It's an approach that enables Alexa to answer multiple questions in one query and provide customized ideas, such as a recipe with the items in your fridge. 

Now, aside from responding accurately to these questions, Alexa can generate personalized stories from an Echo device and recommend content on your Fire TV more accurately.

Also: The best live TV streaming services of 2023 

According to Charlie French, director of smart home at Amazon, the latest large language model will give customers a more conversational and less transactional exchange than ever. Users can ask Alexa to create routines with just their voice or, for example, to "turn on the new light" --  and Alexa will find the newest device added.

The Amazon Alexa app is also getting a new look later this year with Map View, which will give users a simpler way to see their smart home and all the devices within it -- no more scrolling down a list of 40 devices. 

Echo Show 8
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The Echo Show 8 is getting an upgrade, inside and out. Amazon is revamping its Echo Show 8 with edge-to-edge glass and new curvatures around the back. The smart display now features spatial audio in its built-in speaker, capable of adapting to the acoustics of the room to fine-tune playback.

Also: Amazon's Echo Show made me a smart display believer (and my daughter, too)

At $150, the Echo Show 8 also features infrared sensors to change what is displayed based on your proximity. When far away, the Echo Show 8 will show essentials, like a large clock or other information that can be read from a distance. Once a person approaches, the Echo Show will transition to more personalized -- and touch-friendly -- content.

For $160, you can get an Echo Show 8 Photos Edition.

Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The new Fire TV Stick 4K Max has an upgraded 2.0 GHz quad-core processor and 16GB of storage, which is double the storage of the previous generation. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max remains at $60 and continues to support Dolby Vision, HDR, HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos. It also features Wi-Fi 6E support for customers with a compatible router.

Also: The best TV antennas of 2023: Top picks for signal strength

Amazon also introduced the Fire TV Ambient Experience to the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. Ambient Experience lets users repurpose the blank TV screen --turning it into a smart display when not in use to show artwork or photos, reminders, calendars, smart home devices like Ring cameras, and even AI-generated art.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Amazon also announced a new Fire TV Stick 4K with Wi-Fi 6 support and 30% more power than the previous generation, thanks to a 1.7 GHz quad-core processor. The new Fire TV Stick 4K remains at $50 and has 4K Ultra HD resolution, support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, HDR, HLG, HDR10+, and Alexa Home Theater. 

Also: Roku vs Fire Stick: Which one is right for your streaming needs?

Fire TV Soundbar
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Amazon is also launching a new Fire TV Soundbar that supports DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Audio. The new soundbar, priced at $120, is compatible with all Fire TV devices; its simple, compact design is just 24 inches long. The Fire TV Soundbar also has Bluetooth for users to connect their phones, tablets, or other streaming devices.

Echo Hub
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Amazon announced a new all-in-one smart home hub that allows customers to view multiple live feeds simultaneously, supports Thread and Matter, and makes smart home processes faster than a standard Echo Show, capable of turning on a light in 300 milliseconds.

Like the new Echo Show 8, the Echo Hub has an infrared sensor to detect when you're nearby and change what is displayed on the screen. 

The Echo Hub isn't available for preorder yet, but will retail for $180 when it launches later in 2023. 

Amazon made some updates to the Blink product line, including a new floodlight setup for the latest Blink Outdoor 4. The battery-powered camera comes in the middle of two floodlights that can come on automatically when motion is detected. This is an easy-to-install outdoor floodlight camera with up to two years of battery life. 

The Blink Outdoor 4 Floodlight Camera is available to preorder for $160.

Along with the Blink Outdoor 4 Floodlight, Amazon also announced a new Blink Outdoor 4 Battery Extension Pack. The pack can double the battery life of the Blink Outdoor 4 to up to four years.

Amazon also launched an upgraded Blink Sync Module Pro, a small plug-in device that can be used to store videos from your Blink Outdoor 4 locally when paired with a microSD card. The Blink Sync Module Pro can extend the range for the Blink Outdoor 4 -- thanks to a proprietary wireless protocol -- to up to three times further than the range of typical Wi-Fi.

Also: Blink launches new version of Outdoor cam with improved image quality

Ring Stick Up Cam Pro
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The Ring Stick Up Cam Pro was just launched for pre-order, complete with improved camera and Audio+. The improved audio delivers clear sound with echo cancellation, thanks to two-array microphones. 

The Stick Up Cam Pro will feature 3D Motion detection, Bird's Eye Zones, Bird's Eye View, and Color Pre-roll, for $180.

Also: The best outdoor security cameras of 2023: Eufy, Ring, Arlo, and more

Eero Max 7
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

This is Amazon's first Wi-Fi 7 mesh system to combine TrueMesh tech with the latest standard. The Eero Max 7 features two 10-GB ethernet ports, two 2.5-GB ethernet ports, 9.4 Gbps wired speeds, and over 200 connected devices. 

The Eero Max 7 is also a Thread border router and a Zigbee smart home hub. Each one starts at $600 and is available in one, two, or three packs.

Also: The best mesh routers of 2023: Expert recommended

Echo Frames
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Amazon added a new generation of Echo Frames and Carrera Smart Glasses that combine Alexa with sunglasses, prescription, or blue-light glasses. The new Frames feature a streamlined audio design with the speaker better directed to the wearer's ear to minimize the audio others can hear. 

The Echo Frames start at $270, are IPX4 splash and scratch-resistant, and feature up to 40% more audio playback and 80% more talk time than the previous model. 

Also: The best smart glasses of 2023

Echo Pop Kids
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Amazon launched a new Echo Pop Kids smart speaker with two new character themes, one for Marvel's Avengers and one with Disney Princess theme. 

Each one is available for preorder today for $50 and includes six months of Amazon Kids+ and character-specific content.

Amazon also launched two new Fire HD 10 Kids tablets, including a new Pro generation built for kids aged 6-12 years old. The 10.1-inch tablets feature 1080p-resolution displays, 3GB of RAM, up to 13 hours of battery life, and are up to 25% faster than the previous generation. 

The Fire HD 10 Kids tablets are available to preorder today starting at $190.

Also: The best tablets for kids in 2023, recommended by parents

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