Amazon unloaded the goods from a full delivery truck at a private event today. These are some of the many, many smart home products that were announced.
Lookout’s Nest! Amazon is stepping on the ground of Google (and its old thermostat partner, Ecobee) with Amazon’s smart thermostat. Nest thermostats are a circle, so this thing is a square, with the usual touch controls on the front and an app (the Alexa app) for remote control and usage tracking. “Thermostat Hunches” will allow Alexa to control the thermostat based on your location and of course there are voice commands from Alexa. This is “made with Honeywell’s home thermostat technology,” so between the intelligence of the Amazon Echo and the Honeywell thermostat expertise, there’s a lot of experience here.
Amazon’s smart thermostat: much cheaper than the competition
The device costs $ 59.99 and for $ 16 more You can get a pack with a C-Wire power adapter, which you might need if your existing thermostat wiring isn’t producing enough power. That’s dramatically cheaper than Nest, whose cheaper thermostat is $ 129.99. Amazon is also undercutting its biggest thermostat partner, Ecobee, which ships a thermostat with a full built-in Alexa speaker and microphone, the $ 229.99 Ecobee 4. This is just a thermostat, but it is cheap.
Some cameras, including the inner camera of the drone
Next: cameras. Amazon’s crazy indoor flying drone camera, the ambiguously named “Ring Always Home Cam,” is now on sale in the US This was announced a full year ago, but is now available “by invitation only” for $ 249.99. This is a “Day 1 Edition” (read: a beta product). So Amazon is not allowing just anyone to buy it. You can request an invitation to give money to Amazon on the product page.
Like any other Ring camera, you can access the camera feed remotely, through the Ring app. You will get a 1440 × 1440 video stream that you can zoom into. You can train the drone with custom flight paths by simply holding it in the air and walking around the house. There will probably be manual remotes too, but I have a feeling they will be very limited.
It doesn’t seem like much is happening in the navigation stack. Amazon notes that “If Always Home Cam encounters an unexpected obstacle, it will stop and go back to the charging base.” The drone is also limited to a single floor of the house. If you have multiple stories, Amazon recommends multiple drones.
The drone lives on a small dock when it’s not working, and Amazon says it will only record video when it’s flying. The base covers the camera too, so you wouldn’t be able to record much while you’re not flying, even if you wanted to. It has a five-minute flight time before it needs to recharge, and it should automatically dock when it’s done.
This is a quadcopter, so like any other quadcopter, it will be a little quieter than a flying chainsaw, but not much. The ad video did not include a sound recording of the drone, but on Amazon’s product page, there is a video which hints at how much sound this thing will make. Ring President Leila Rouhi explained to the BBC last year that in addition to covering the camera while on the dock, the quadcopter is “built to be loud so it’s really private what you can hear.”
If you have pets, Amazon admits that “they may need time to adjust to the noise and movement of the Always Home Cam.” If your dog is still afraid of the vacuum cleaner, imagine if that vacuum cleaner magically came to life when you weren’t home and started flying around the room.
In other camera news, there is also a buzzer: the flashing doorbell. For $ 49.99, this doorbell camera has 30fps, 1080p video with infrared night vision, and two-way audio. It runs on 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi, and if you don’t want to power it with a doorbell cord, you can use two AA batteries. Like all other Blink cameras, this one should be simple, cheap, and compatible with the Amazon Alexa ecosystem. There are some local storage capabilities through the Blink Sync Module 2, or you can pay a monthly fee for cloud storage.
There are also two accessories for the Blink Outdoor camera: a $ 39.99 Reflector Mount (adds a motion sensor) and two LEDs (adds 700 lumens of power and motion-activated recording). There is also a $ 129.98 Solar Panel Mount for the Blink Outdoor camera, freeing you from having to run relying on the usual AAs. The solar mount has a single “pre-installed” 18650 battery. It’s unclear whether the battery is user-replaceable or not, and the battery life is equally vague.
The Ring + eero security system
One more product before we go: the Ring Alarm Pro. This is a follow-up to last year’s Ring Alarm home security system. The main difference is that the Alarm Pro combines two of Amazon’s acquisitions: a Ring alarm system. and an eero WiFi 6 mesh router. This will wirelessly connect your home to the internet and protect it, all in one large box. the starter kit costs $ 299.99 and offers you eight items: an Alarm Pro base station, a keypad, four touch sensors, a motion detector, and an alarm range extender.
The base station appears to be the only different item from last year, with the eero Wi-Fi 6 router functionality the only new addition. It is fully compatible with the eero mesh system, so just add another mesh point if you need it. The other widgets still use Z-Wave for low-power connectivity. If you have last year’s version of Ring Alarm and want to upgrade to the Wi-Fi version, it will cost you $ 249 for the base station alone. The new Alarm Pro comes out November 3.
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Image listing by Amazon