While “Winter is Coming!” may be the starkest warning in Game of Thrones, the heralding of the winter holiday season in Seattle is a quest for glory, and market leadership, in new tech products. This year’s fall harvest is no exception.
The Houses of Amazon, Microsoft, Apple & Google have announced a royal courting of smartly designed devices — from smartphones to smart watches, smart speakers to wearables— that will ship in time to deck your halls and home in the coming season.
Amazon debuted six new pieces of hardware at a surprise unveiling in Seattle this news cycle, only hours after Apple made its traditional autumn announcement of new iPhones (the iPhone 8 and special edition iPhone X), Series 3 Apple Watches, and a new Homepod to take on Echo in the premiere event of the new Steve Jobs theater-in-the-round.
Meanwhile, Google is ramping up a new wristwatch wearable dubbed Android Oreo, new Pixel XL 2 smartphones, and a new team of engineers from HTC. One of the more fascinating try-ons right now is the Levi’s® Commuter™ Trucker Jacket with Jacquard by Google. The denim jacket is woven with conductive Jacquard™ thread and links to your mobile device via Bluetooth. With a tap or brush of the cuff, you control your music, and can screen phone calls or get directions. A few simple gestures keep you connected. Talk about a brush-off!
From the kingdom of Redmond, Microsoft has begun accepting pre-orders for the Windows Mixed Reality headset. Together with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update – coming on October 17 – and a compatible Windows 10 PC, the Windows Mixed Reality headsets will enable you to immerse yourself in the world of Windows Mixed Reality. For your holiday reading lists, there’s also CEO Satya Nadella’s new book “Hit Refresh.”
Amazon’s Echo Spot could be the sleeper hit of the holidays, shipping in December. A cute, round orb about the size of a softball, the Spot features a 2.5 inch screen that adds a video dimension to Echo first introduced with the Amazon Show for around half the price — at $130. A built-in smart camera makes it an ideal baby monitor or home security device while the Spot can control multiple elements of a smart home, such as connected lights or thermostats, and do it all with one verbal Echo command.
The Spot includes a built-in speaker, but can connect to external speakers through Bluetooth or a 3.5mm stereo cable. Like the other Echo devices, it can be controlled via voice to play music from Amazon, Pandora, and Spotify (the latter, by the way, is Microsoft’s new partner as it discontinues its Groove Music program).
The Amazon Echo Plus looks like the original Echo but now serves as a smart home hub as well with over 100 smart home devices that you can set up via voice, without any apps. The Plus comes with a Philips Hue smart light bulb in every box; it’s available in black, white, and silver. The Echo Plus is available for preorder today and comes out on October 31st.
A smaller version of the Echo speaker has also been introduced for just $99 and is available in a three-room-pack for $249. The 3-pack ought to fit nicely alongside six-packs of Pepsi or Dr. Pepper on Whole Foods shelves.
There’s also a new three-pack of puck- like Echo Buttons for $20 that lets you convert any living space into a TV game show for family members to punch-in the answers to trivia questions. Oh, and a new Fire TV offering 4K HDR support.
Looking ahead to the new year, you can now put Alexa on your shopping list in the form of a BMW automobile. Echo’s far-field microphones will soon be embedded inside the BMW driving machines and Alexa content displayed on the unit as well.
All in all, some amazing and amusing ways to spruce up your earthly realm for winter! Your dragon will be pleased! [24×7]