Amazon has completely overhauled the design of its smart home devices — including spherical speakers and a display that rotates so it's always facing you while you walk around the room — which are built with sustainable materials.
The devices, announced overnight at the company's annual hardware reveal event, are made with 100 per cent post-consumer recycled fabric, 100 per cent recycled die-cast aluminum, and post-
consumer recycled plastic, Amazon said.
The new Echo smart speaker is no longer a tall tube but a fabric sphere, with a 3-inch woofer and two speakers inside. The device — through which users can speak commands to the Alexa assistant — features Dolby processing and, as with the high-end Echo Studio, will tune itself to its surroundings.
It also has a built-in Zigbee hub for connecting smart home devices, which was previously only available in the Echo plus, though the new Echo will maintain its Australian price of $149.
Meanwhile the Echo Dot, which previously resembled a hockey puck, is now a smaller sphere with a single speaker inside at $79. A version with a simple LED display for showing the time or temperature, designed for bedsides, is $99.
The new Echo Show 10 smart display resembles a short drum with an iPad stuck on the front, and has the unusual ability to rotate as you interact with it. When you speak to Alexa, or as you watch video content or make video calls on the 10-inch screen, the device will track your movements to keep the display pointed towards you.
You can also access the camera feed through the Alexa app to monitor your home while you're not there, and can manually rotate the camera. Amazon said a privacy switch on the device puts a physical shutter over the camera for when you don't need to use it.
In addition to Amazon Prime Video, the company said Netflix would soon be supported on the device. It has a powerful woofer in its base, and two forward-facing speakers. It will sell for $399.
Also at the event, Amazon announced the Fire TV Stick Lite streaming dongle, which will be the first Fire TV device in Australia featuring Alexa. Users can speak into the remote to control smart devices or search for movies and shows, although initially using voice within video apps themselves will be limited to Amazon Prime Video.
The new dongle, which will cost $59, supports Australian catch-up TV services which were not included in the previous Fire TV, in addition to Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Apple TV, Optus Sport and Stan (owned by the publisher of this masthead).
The announcements comes ahead of Google's hardware event next week, where the web giant is expected to reveal its own redesigned smart speaker and a streaming dongle that can add Android TV to any television.
Amazon also announced a new service for streaming video games and a flying version of the Ring camera that can buzz around your home on preset security routes, but these products are US-only for now.
Tim is the editor of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald technology sections.