Alexa

Sonos Debuts The Beam

Sonos Debuts Alexa Home Theater Speaker, Ups Apple Integration Sonos Inc. introduced the Beam home-theater smart speaker and said its products would be integrated in July with Apple Inc.'s new AirPlay 2 wireless music-streaming system. The Beam is a sound bar designed to sit below a television set and replace the ...

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Amazon Releasing Echo Dot to Be Geared for Kids

Echo Dot The Echo Dot has [easyazon_link identifier="B077JFMVGP" locale="US" tag="scriptnotes00-20" localize="y"]now made its way[/easyazon_link] to your kids' room. Well, it may have already been there, but now Amazon is marketing it with colorful new bumpers and software updates.

Echo Dot: Premium Edition?

On the surface, aside from the colorful case, it would appear that there's "not much to see here."  However, Amazon was able to find some items to help justify the new premium.

Brian Heater, reporting for TechCrunch:

From a hardware perspective, there’s not really a lot different here. The Echo Dot Kids Edition is essentially a standard Echo Dot, with a color bumper to help it withstand your standard kid jostling and the same “two-year worry-free guarantee” the company introduced on its kids’ Fire Tablets. That means it’s covered for accidental and intentional breakage, should the little one take the thing apart out of curiosity.

At $80, it’s a $30 premium over the standard Dot. That price jump is largely due to the software included herein, making the device a bundle of sorts. It covers two years of FreeTime Unlimited— which includes a new premium version of the company’s smart assistant built for kids. That includes a bunch of child-friendly content, including 300 Audible books, an ad-free version of iHeartRadio Family and skills and content from the likes of Disney and National Geographic. Amazon’s also partnered with Disney and Nickelodeon on alarms, so kids can get woken up by the likes of Coco each morning.

Like the free version of FreeTime, it also includes a number of parental controls that can be adjusted directly from the Alexa app, similar to what the company has already rolled out on the tablet side of things. Parents can adjust time limits, filter out explicit content and review their kids’ Alexa activity from the new parental dashboard. The Dot also features the new intercom functionality rolled out from Alexa, but disables the ability to call Echos outside of the home network.

However, there aren't any new privacy features that are built into the hardware.  There is still the mute button and parents can also prevent the device from answering questions.

For those who are interested, the [easyazon_link identifier="B077JFMVGP" locale="US" tag="scriptnotes00-20" localize="y"]Echo Dot Kids Edition[/easyazon_link] is available for pre-order today and will start shipping on May 9.

[easyazon_image align="center" height="500" identifier="B077JFMVGP" locale="US" localize="y" src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41Vi3SDUBHL.jpg" tag="scriptnotes00-20" width="500"]

Amazon Prime Day is Coming July 11th - Are You Ready?

Prime Day You have probably heard by now that this year’s Amazon Prime Day will be coming up soon on July 11, 2017. For those unfamiliar with Prime Day, it’s generally a one day only event that Amazon holds for its Prime Members to gain access to deals on items. It is generally the largest shopping day of the year for the online commerce giant, rivaling Black Friday. Read on for more details about this year’s event, in addition to a couple offers Amazon is offering to get this year’s festivities started!

According to Amazon, the third annual Prime Day will be Tuesday, July 11, 2017 with hundreds of thousands of deals exclusively for Prime members around the world. New this year, members can enjoy 30 hours of shopping starting early at 6pm PT / 9pm ET on Monday, July 10, 2017 – with new deals as often as every five minutes.

In an effor to highlight small businesses on Prime Day, Amazon said that nearly 40 percent of the Lightning Deals that happen during the event will be from small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to hit the ground running.

“Our members love Prime Day and we have been thrilled by the response over the last two years. It is inspiring us to make it even better this year for Prime members,” said Greg Greeley, Vice President, Amazon Prime. “Every part of our business is working to deliver more deals for a record number of shoppers. This year’s Prime Day is too big for 24 hours – so we’re giving Prime members 30 hours to shop!”

In an effort to help shoppers stay organized, deals will be organized by more than 20 themes, including topics like pet lovers, gardeners, techies, artists, and more. And of course, what would be a Prime Day shopping extravaganza without Alexa?For users with Alexa devices, Amazon is introducing even more Alexa-exclusive deals discoverable through Echo devices and Fire Tablets.

To get your ready and prepared for the deals you might be after, Amazon is offering a $10 credit for users who might not have signed into their app for the first time. Unfortunately if you have already, you’re out of luck.

Here are the terms and conditions of that deal:

  • Offer valid for Prime members only who are active at the time of first sign-in to the Amazon Shopping App
  • Offer expires at 11:59 p.m. (PT) July 31, 2017.
  • Offer only applies to products sold by Amazon.com
  • Offer does not apply to digital content.
  • Offer good while supplies last.
  • Shipping charges and taxes may apply to discounted and free promotional items.
  • Items must be purchased in a single order and shipped at the same speed to a single address.
  • Offer limited to one per customer and account.
  • Taxes, shipping and handling, and gift wrap charges do not apply when determining minimum purchase amount.
  • The maximum benefit you may receive from this offer is $10.
  • You will receive an e-mail from Amazon that indicates the dollar amount of the promotional code. The e-mail will also provide instructions on how to redeem the promotional code.
  • Promotion code expires at 11:59 p.m. (PT) July 31, 2017.
  • Promotion code only applies to items sold by Amazon.
  • Amazon reserves the right to modify or cancel the offer at any time.
  • Offer is non-transferable and may not be resold.
  • Offer discount will be allocated proportionally among all promotional items in your order.
  • If any of the products or content related to this offer are returned, your refund will equal the amount you paid for the product or content, subject to applicable refund policies.
  • If you violate any of these terms, the offer will be invalid.
  • Unless an Amazon Gift Card is the stated benefit of the promotion, promotional codes (including those placed directly in accounts) may not be redeemed for Amazon Gift Cards.

Another offer is that if you have yet to stream Prime Video to your TV, you can get another $10 in free credit. Terms and conditions of that deal can be found via the link.

Another great deal, and one that I’m considering myself, is 40% off of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service, which allows readers access to thousands of books a month! Or if you prefer books of the audio variety, you can get 40% off of an Audible.com membership from now until July 11th.  Prime Members can also get 4 months of Amazon Music Unlimited for 99 cents!

Most of all, if you are not a Prime member yet, and want to take advantage of the above, or any forthcoming deals on Prime Day, remember Amazon offers 30 day trials to the Prime Membership service. That way you can take advantage of these deals, and then if you decide it’s not for you, you can always cancel and not miss out!

Low income households can also take advantage of Prime at $5.99 a month, and if you’re a student, you can get six months free!

Make sure to check it out, and certainly if you have any questions, let us know in the comments, and enjoy the savings!

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Amazon Echo - Lowest Price This Year!

Amazon Echo Today only, Amazon is offering the lowest price yet this year on its Amazon Echo home speaker product, coming in at $129.99.  This amounts to a savings of 28% off of the list price!  Note that the offer ends at 8:59 PM PST today, so make sure you take advantage if you've been waiting for a price drop like this.

The Echo holds a place on our counter top and we have loved ours.  In the kitchen, it can come in extremely handy for multiple timers.  Say you have something on the stove, but also have something baking in the oven at the same time.  You can name the different timers, so that way you know which one is ready to go.  We also love it for its integration with Alexa, where you can order Alexa-exclusive voice shopping deals.  There's also hundreds of Alexa skills you can utilize with it, such as ordering a pizza from Domino's.  It also integrates nicely with Amazon Music Unlimited, producing a decent quality sound.

See below for more details on the product, and let me know if you have any questions on our usage!

  • Plays all your music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice
  • Introducing Alexa calling and messaging, a new way to be together with family and friends. Just ask Alexa to call or message anyone with an Echo, Echo Dot, or the Alexa App.
  • Fills the room with immersive, 360º omni-directional audio
  • Hears you from across the room with far-field voice recognition, even while music is playing
  • Answers questions, reads the news, reports traffic and weather, reads audiobooks from Audible, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and more using the Alexa Voice Service
  • Controls lights, fans, switches, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, locks, and more with compatible connected devices from WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, ecobee, and others
  • Always getting smarter and adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Uber, Domino's, DISH, and more

Amazon Echo Dot - Certified Refurbished Available for 24% Off

Amazon Echo Dot While we have gotten a lot of use out of our regular Amazon Echo speaker (available certified refurbished at $134.99), it's understandable that it might not be in the budget for everyone.  However, if you've been looking for a chance to get into the smart speaker craze and get a start on your smart home, Amazon is currently offering the second generation Amazon Echo Dot for 24% off its "brand new" offering at $37.99.

The smaller Dot, is a hands-free, voice-controlled device with a small built-in speaker - you can also hook it up to your speakers or headphones over Bluetooth or via a 3.5 mm audio cable for delivering stereo sound to whatever speakers you choose.

Other features include:

  • A Certified Refurbished Echo Dot is refurbished, tested, and certified to look and work like new
  • Echo Dot (2nd Generation) is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, make calls, send and receive messages, provide information, read the news, set alarms, read audiobooks from Audible, and more
  • Connects to speakers or headphones through Bluetooth or 3.5 mm stereo cable to play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn
  • Introducing Alexa calling and messaging, a new way to be together with family and friends. Just ask Alexa to call or message anyone with an Echo, Echo Dot, or the Alexa App.
  • Controls lights, fans, switches, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, locks, and more with compatible connected devices from WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, ecobee, and others
  • Hears you from across the room with 7 far-field microphones for hands-free control, even in noisy environments or while playing music
  • Includes a built-in speaker so it can work on its own as a smart alarm clock in the bedroom, an assistant in the kitchen, or anywhere you might want a voice-controlled computer; Amazon Echo is not required to use Echo Dot
  • Always getting smarter and adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Uber, Domino's, and more

Amazon Unveils the 'Echo Show' - Coming in June

Amazon Echo Show On the tail of yesterday's report, today brought forth Amazon's unveiling of their new Echo product, the Echo Show.  Indeed, the Echo show is a smart home speaker system that gives the consumer everything in the usual Echo speaker, but now includes a 7 inch touch screen.

Users will also be able to watch video flash briefings, YouTube, get a visual of music lyrics, check security cameras, swipe through your photos, get a check on the latest weather, edit your to-do and shopping lists, in addition to a host of other features.  Thanks to far-field voice recognition, eight microphones, beam-forming technology, and noise cancellation, users can be heard from anywhere in the room, in addition to being heard over any loud music that might be coming from the speaker itself.

In addition to a new video chat experience, that allows users to be able to make hands free calls to contacts who also have an Echo Show, or the Alexa App, there is a new feature called "Drop In."  This lets users quickly contact or send messages to other Echo Show users, for quick tasks, like letting them know its time for breakfast, or check in on their little one's nursery/bedroom.

Of course, what would a smart speaker be, without smart home features?  The device will connect to products like Hue and Wink, as well as get visuals on your kitchen timers, and the latest news.

For news and information you can see and hear, just ask Alexa for your video flash briefing from CNN. Curious about the latest movie trailers or a need a how-to video from YouTube? Just ask.

Echo Show helps keep you organized at home. Start a timer in the kitchen and watch as it counts down, or easily see and manage your family’s calendar. Sign in to the Alexa App to take your to-do and shopping lists with you. Just add an item to the list from home, and whoever is out shopping will see it added instantly on their Alexa App.

If you are interested, the Amazon Echo Show is now available to pre-order in black and white for $229.99.  It is expected to start shipping on June 28.  As a special offer celebrating the device's launch, those who purchase two Echo Show devices at once can save $100 off of the order.

What do you think readers?  Will you be checking this out?  Leave a comment below!

Deal Alert: Amazon Echo with Alexa - Certified Refurbished

Amazon Echo Online retail giant Amazon has really carved a lead at the top of the smart speaker category with it's Amazon Echo with Alexa product, especially with its forthcoming Echo Look.  This has led to Google offering it's own speaker product, as well as leading many to think Apple could soon enter the fray with a Siri product of its own, possibly as soon as June reports MacRumors.

That being said, with this offer, you can currently pick up a certified refurbished Amazon Echo with Alexa speaker for well below the list price.  Certified refurbished products get tested and certified to look both work and look brand new, as well as coming with warranties.  Normally the typical list price of the product is $179.99, with certified refurbished models coming in at $164.99.  Now though, it's available for $134.99.

For those unfamiliar with the product, Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker that you are able to control with your voice.  Connecting to the Alexa Voice Service allows it to play music, provide information, provide the latest news and scores of your favorite sports team, weather, and even play some rounds of Jeopardy.  The product contains seven microphones, and beam forming technology so that it can hear you when you're well across the room, even if music is emanating from the speaker at the time.  The speaker can fill any room with a 360 degree sound.

We got ours in a Black Friday special last year, and have absolutely loved it.  It has come in handy for setting multiple timers while cooking, or even playing music for our little one.

Amazon's Echo Look: A Fashionista's Friend

Echo Look There is no doubt that Amazon has continued to make way into our households with its Echo devices and smart assistant Alexa.  Today, Amazon unveiled a new addition to the Echo family, with its Echo Look device, being offered by invitation only to Prime members.  The device is being billed as a "style assistant" camera that will help to catalog your outfits, and assigns your look a rating based on "machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists."

Each Echo Look comes with a built-in LED light, microphone, as well as a base mount that can either be attached to a wall, or it can be left to be freestanding such as on a nightstand, dresser, etc.  It can also work with a companion app that has a Style Check feature for comparing two outfits.  If you're not necessarily interested in the Echo Look, you can access this feature by going to your iOS Amazon app, go to Programs and Features, and look for it in that menu.

Similarly to other Echo devices, with the Look, you can still have Alexa read you your daily news flash briefing, play music, or check on how long it will take you to get to work with traffic estimates.  Amazon plans on adding additional skills to the Look also.

From the product page:

  • Introducing Echo Look—everything you love about Alexa, and now she can help you look your best
  • Using just your voice, easily take full-length photos and short videos with a hands-free camera that includes built-in LED lighting, depth-sensing camera, and computer vision-based background blur
  • See yourself from every angle with the companion app. Build a personal lookbook and share your photos.
  • Get a second opinion on which outfit looks best with Style Check, a new service that combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists
  • Echo Look helps you discover new brands and styles inspired by your lookbook
  • Ask Alexa to read the news and audiobooks, set alarms, get traffic and weather updates, control smart home devices, play music, and more
  • Always getting smarter and adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Starbucks, Fitbit, NPR, and more

Great Amazon Deal on TP-Link Smart Plug

An image of the TP-Link Smart Plug During their Black Friday sale last year, we finally took the plunge and picked up Amazon's Echo with Alexa built in.  We have thoroughly enjoyed being able to use it to listen to music through Amazon Music Unlimited, set timers, and being able to voice control turning lights and the TV thanks to devices like the TP-Link Smart Plug.

With this particular smart plug, you can plug it into any conventional wall outlet, and connect anything like a fan, a coffee maker, or in our case, our living room lamp, and can then use Amazon's Alexa to turn the device on and off.

See below the fold for the discount!

Now, when you click on the link, the device will still show it's regular price of $24.99, but when you add it to your cart, and go to checkout, you'll notice the price will drop to $17.99!  We're not sure how long this price will last, and given Amazon's usual price and inventory fluctuation, you may want to take advantage of this now.  Smart plugs are a great way to get your smart home up and running rather inexpensively.

Product highlights from the page include:

  • Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control
  • Remote Access: Control devices connected to the Smart Plug wherever you have Internet using the free Kasa app on your smartphone
  • Turn electronics on or off from anywhere with your tablet or smartphone using the free Kasa app (Compatible w/ Android 4.1 or higher & iOS8 or higher)
  • Use Away-Mode to turn devices on and off at different times to give the appearance that someone is home while you are away
  • Easy to use and install. Just plug a device into the Smart Plug and connect to your Wi-Fi network. 120VAC Volt Compatible

Also of note is that if you want a smart plug that's a little on the smaller side, TP-Link Smart Plug Mini that normally lists for $49.99 is on sale for $34.99.  But like the above, if you add it to your cart, the price will drop to $24.99!