Amazon’s big hardware event slated for Sept. 28: What to expect



Amazon’s big hardware event slated for Sept. 28: What to expect

As it does each year, Amazon will draw back the curtain on its new hardware devices at the end of September, and along with the usual Echo and Ring refreshes, we can expect some eye-popping surprises, such as the Alexa-enabled Echo Astro robot. What’s in store for this year?

First, the details: Amazon’s annual hardware event will take place this year on September 28, starting at 9 a.m. Pacific time. The event will be virtual this year, but unlike livestream keynotes from Apple and Google, Amazon’s hardware event will be by invite only. We’ll have full coverage of Amazon’s 2022 hardware event as it happens, so stay tuned.

So, what can we expect to see at Amazon’s event next week? The e-tailing and smart home giant is keeping mum for now, but we can make some educated guesses.

New Amazon Echo devices

Amazon always has some new Echo hardware to show off at its annual event, and we’re guessing speakers will be the focus this year. It’s been two years since the Amazon Echo Dot and the full-size Echo got a refresh, while the Dolby Atmos-enabled Echo Studio is now three years old, and Echo Sub is even older. Each of those speakers is due an for update.

As for Amazon’s Echo Show displays, we’re not counting on seeing much that’s new. The wall-hanging Echo Show 15 was unveiled just last fall, while the Echo Show 5 and 8 were both updated last spring. It has been a couple years since the Echo Show 10 and its rotating display were announced, but that model got such a radical redesign that we doubt it will get a successor (though you never know).

Finally, what about the Astro, Amazon’s crazy smart home robot on wheels? The Astro was announced with great fanfare last year but remains in “Day 1” early access mode, meaning you can only buy one (for $999!) with an invite. Will Amazon finally unleash Astro on the masses, or will it be quietly tucked in a closet, similar to the ill-fated Echo Loop smart ring? We’ll find out soon.

New Ring and Blink devices

Last year, Amazon showed off its Ring Alarm Pro with an integrated Eero 6 mesh Wi-Fi router. That was something of a big-ticket item, so don’t be surprised if Amazon has more nuts-and-bolts Ring devices to unveil.

Blink also got some updated during Amazon’s 2021 hardware event, including its first video doorbell and a floodlight for its outdoor cam, so it’s likely Amazon’s other smart security brand will have some wares to show off.

Back to Ring, the brand announced Ring Virtual Security Guard, a fee-based add-on that allows professional monitoring services to keep tabs on motion alerts from your Ring security cameras. The $99 service is still in invite-only early access, but perhaps Amazon will announce a wide-availability timeline next week.

Then there’s Ring’s headline-grabbing Always Home Cam, the automated drone that flies around your home looking for intruders. The $250 Always Home Cam made a huge splash when it was first announced back in 2020, and last year Amazon said it would finally start offering it to customers on an invite-only basis. Well, here we are in 2022, and the Always Home Cam still requires an invitation before you can buy one. Is this the year when the Always Home Cam will truly take flight, or is it destined to be grounded? We’ll be looking for clues next week.

Amazon Sidewalk, Matter, and other odds and ends

It’s been a couple years since Amazon first announced Sidewalk, its ambitious smart device network that enabled multiple Ring, Echo, and other compatible devices to work together, creating a low-power, long-range network large enough to cover an entire neighborhood. Sidewalk can help smart home users install motion sensors and other low-power, low-data devices outside their homes without the need for Wi-Fi, and the budding standard now has partners such as Tile and Level, makers of the Level lock. Will we hear more of Sidewalk’s progress next week? Hopefully.

There’s also Matter, the impending smart home standard that promises to bridge the gaps between the Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Home smart ecosystems. Expected to arrive this fall, Matter leverages Thread to connect disparate smart devices together in a secure, low-power, and self-healing mesh network, and all the big smart home players have been detailing their Matter support recently, Amazon included. We could well get another Matter update next week.

Last but not least, we should expect the unexpected. The Astro and Always Home Cam were both curve balls, and last year we got the Amazon Glow, a interactive gadget for kids that combined a display, a projector, and an object scanner. Will there be a similar surprise this year? I’m betting yes.

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