Design
Where form meets function

In an age where tech unveilings have become internet-breaking extravaganzas which run over several days, yesterday’s Amazon event in Seattle was refreshingly low-key. The company took the opportunity to announce a bevy of new products, some, admittedly, more useful than others. But the best part? Of all the items, most were, relatively, wallet-friendly. That’s right — there were no $1,000 iPhone X equivalents on show.

The two main takeaways were the new Echo and Echo Plus. The former, designed to replace the original, comes in at $99 (the Apple HomePod is priced at $349) and has an upgraded speaker system and microphone. The $149 Plus, meanwhile, is equipped with the same upgraded speaker system and microphone, as well as a smart home hub which allows it to connect, via voice, with over 100 smarthome devices.

Undoubtedly the strangest product were the Echo Buttons, pictured in the gallery at the top of the page. Retailing for just $20 a pop, the little buzzers connect with the Echo and act as an input for games. Amazon no doubt has its eye on the family Christmas market here.

Only slightly more expensive than the buttons is the $35 Echo Connect, which can be used to connect your Echo to a landline. When plugged in, the user can then make phone calls through their speaker. (Don’t worry, your phone number will still be tied to calls so receivers can identify you.) It’s cool enough, but is it really so necessary in the age of mobile?

For TV fiends, the new 4K compatible Fire TV will be of interest. It comes with a remote and can be controlled by Alexa, allowing the user to bark instructions from anywhere in their house. Priced at 70 bucks, it can be copped for way less than Apple TV, which retails between $179 to $199.

Coming back to gadgets, Amazon might have unveiled the world’s coolest alarm clock. The Spot is a tiny device with a small 2.5-inch screen that can be used to wake you up. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It has built-in sound, supports apps like Spotify and Pandora, and can be used to make video calls.

Last, but certainly not least, there’s the Big Mouth Billy Bass. At first we thought Amazon was trolling us but no, Alexa will now be able to make its way to the infamous fish via Bluetooth connectivity to Echo devices. Load up your favorite playlist, and watch it go.

Which products will you be copping, if any? Do let us know in the comments below.

In other news, this shopping bag from colette is a piece of fashion history.

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