Amazon Debuts New and Improved Tech for Holiday Shopping Season

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Jonathan Weiss / has introduced a trio of entirely new or upgraded Echo smart speakers as well as an upgraded Fire TV media player.

They are all part of the popular family of electronics known as “Amazon devices” because they’re both created and sold by the e-commerce giant.

Amazon sold millions of these types of devices during the 2016 holiday season — more than twice as many as the company sold during the 2015 season. And now the new and improved models have debuted in time for the impending holiday shopping season.

Even if the newest members of the Amazon device family don’t suit your fancy, someone on your gift shopping list might love one. You never know — my family is still in awe that Grandpa is in love with the Echo Dot device he insisted on last Christmas.

As for the prices of the new and improved Amazon devices, they currently range from around $69.99 to $149.99. If price is paramount for you, perhaps wait and check out the deals Amazon offers around Black Friday. If you’d rather ensure you’re among the first to receive the new devices, though, you can pre-order one now.

For movie and TV buffs

All of the Amazon Fire TV devices are essentially digital media players. As such, they enable you to stream video content from the internet — think Netflix, Hulu and such — to a TV. Competitors include Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast devices.

The particular Fire TV device known simply as “Fire TV,” which is actually a media player and remote control, is the one Amazon just updated.

This next-generation Fire TV device (currently $69.99) is compatible with TV screens that have 4K ultra HD resolution or HDR resolution, “giving you true-to-life picture quality and sound with vivid color,” according to Amazon.

The remote control is an Alexa Voice Remote, so you have the option to control the media player with your voice instead of your fingers. (Learn more about Alexa in the next section.)

If you or someone on your shopping list would fancy this doohickey, you can pre-order it now from Amazon. The company will start shipping them out on Oct. 25.

For tech buffs and busy (or lazy) folks

All of the Amazon Echo devices are so-called “smart” speakers — essentially, internet-connected electronics that you can interact with by simply speaking to them. In other words, you can control them with your voice instead of your hands, which is possible because these devices are equipped with Alexa.

Alexa is what’s known as an intelligent personal assistant — just like Apple’s Siri, for example. If you simply ask Alexa (by talking at an Echo device), it can do all kind of handy things for you, from getting your local weather forecast to playing the song of your choice to checking your bank or credit card balance.

The new or improved Echo devices that Amazon just debuted are the:

  • Upgraded Echo (currently $99.99): Its improvements include a compact design and overhauled sound system.
  • All-new Echo Plus ($149.99): Its distinguishing features include a built-in smart home hub, which enables it to easily connect with other smart devices.
  • All-new Echo Spot ($129.99): Its distinguishing features include a screen, which is a big deal considering that the only other Echo device with a screen costs $100 more. The Echo Spot is also compact, making it “ideal for use on a nightstand or desk,” according to Amazon.

You can pre-order all three of these devices now on Amazon. The company will start shipping out the Echo and Echo Plus in October, and start shipping out the Echo Spot in December.

What do you think of the newest Amazon devices? Let us know below or on our Facebook page.