Product Reviews

Everything Amazon Announced at Its Hardware Event—So Far

It’s all powered by Amazon’s latest AZ2 Neural Edge processor, which runs machine learning-based speech models faster than its predecessor. It has a built-in 5-megapixel camera and mics for video calls, both of which can be turned off when not in use. It also comes with Visual ID, an optional facial recognition feature that can recognize the person in front of the display to show reminders, notes from other household members, and upcoming events specific to them. 

The Echo Show 15 starts at $250. Additional accessories like countertop stands and under-cabinet mounts will cost extra.

A Videophone for Kids

Photograph: Amazon

Over the past pandemic year, one of the biggest struggles was engaging smaller children remotely. Anything was preferable to pinning them down on a couch whilst staring silently at Nana on a screen. Amazon’s Glow looks like one of the most promising devices yet to help with this.

The 14-inch-tall freestanding tower has a built-in 8-inch display. On one end, an adult downloads the Glow app on either an iOS or Android tablet. On the other end, the Glow projects an interactive puzzle, story, or drawing activity on a 19-inch mat in front of the child. In addition to the mat, the tower comes with optional Glow Bits packages the child can manipulate by hand, like tangrams. The adult reads or plays along, and each gets to see the other’s face. (There’s a physical shutter to prevent anyone from snooping when the device is not in use.) 

The Glow is a sort of lovechild between two of our favorite kid devices over the past few years, the Osmo tablets and the Facebook Portal. Amazon says it collaborated with some of the biggest kid entertainment companies, like Disney, Sesame Street, and Nickelodeon, to create all-new original content for the Glow. It’ll retail at the introductory price of $249 and an eventual MSRP of $299. Hopefully, it’ll ship well before the start of the winter holidays.

New Updates to Halo

Photograph: Amazon

Last year, Amazon debuted its new fitness tracker, the Halo, which—rather than count your steps or track your workouts—measures your body fat with a picture and also taught you to be nicer. This year, Amazon is rolling out a whole host of updates to make the Halo a much more comprehensive fitness tracker with features like Halo Fitness, a studio workout service, and Halo Nutrition, which has partners like Whole Foods and Weight Watchers and pulls from a menu of 500 recipes to help you eat better. All services will be included in the Halo membership.

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