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Smart Home

Amazon event 2019: Echo Buds, Echo Frames, Alexa privacy updates, Amazon Smart Oven and everything announced

Amazon dropped a ton of Echo devices yesterday, including a new Echo Show 8 and Echo Dot. And now you can get the voice of Samuel L. Jackson!

Amazon took the wraps off a new batch of Alexa-powered products in a Wednesday event that seemed like a nonstop firehose of hardware. Among the products unveiled at the Seattle HQ: a high-end Echo Studio, the new Echo Show 8, an Echo Dot with a clock and a three-in-one Amazon Smart Oven. The online retail giant also debuted Echo Buds earbuds and connected Echo Frames eyewear, both part of its Day 1 Editions program for experimental products. The company also introduced a host of new functions and features that it says allow users to better control the privacy of their data.

The new products and features can be grouped broadly by two themes, mobility and privacy. The earbuds and glass frames, as well as products for autos and a connected ring (as in jewelry) called the Echo Loop point to Amazon's desire to break its Alexa smart assistant out of our living rooms and into our broader lives. Amazon appears to envision making Alexa a service we take with us wherever we go. 

Similarly, Amazon appears to be responding to concerns about privacy, an issue that jumped to the fore after news broke that the company's written transcripts of our conversations with Alexa lived on even after we asked for them to be erased. Amazon added a voice command that lets you hear everything Alexa recorded, and said it will let people delete Alexa voice recordings on a rolling three-month or eight-month basis. It also touted a new privacy tool for kids and a new feature for its Ring video doorbells called Home Mode that pauses audio and video recording when the owner is home. 

Amazon also dropped the price on its Eero line of mesh network components and introduced Sidewalk, which extends connectivity outside the house. 

All of the above might sound like a lot. But we were on the ground in Seattle and can tell you there was a lot more. Here are the highlights.  

At an event last year, the company announced a dozen new devices, from the third-gen Amazon Echo Dot to the AmazonBasics Microwave, the Amazon Echo Wall Clock and the Amazon Echo Auto. Since then, Amazon has released a new smart display -- the Amazon Echo Show 5. It's also come under fire for hiring people to occasionally listen in on Alexa conversations. The company also acquired the video doorbell company Ring, which has faced scrutiny for its work with police departments across the country, and mesh network maker Eero

Wearables and Day 1 Editions

The Echo Buds wireless earbuds are real, and include Bose noise reduction. They join the Echo Frames smart glasses as part of a new Day 1 Editions program for experimental Alexa implementations. The Echo Loop is a Day 1 Edition smart ring.

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Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

Echo and Alexa

The Echo line of devices gets new Alexa commands, privacy updates for Ring (home mode) and Alexa (such as automatic deletion of data) and hints at future celebrity voices. Plus, a bunch of new Echos, of course, highlighted by a high-end model that supports Dolby Atmos streaming from 4K Fire TVs. And kid-friendly features and models, such as the Echo Glow.

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Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

Smart home

Frustrated by smart-home setup complications? Now Amazon has a frustration-free Certified for Humans program to make smart lights, plugs and appliances totally foolproof. Also, it rolled out the first product from its acquisition of mesh Wi-Fi system maker Eero, called... the Eero, as well as Alexa's ability to manage Wi-Fi. The Echo Flex spreads access points inconspicuously throughout your home, with a plug-in motion sensor or night light. The Ring video doorbell gets plug-ins and a Stick-Up Cam, including its first indoor-only camera at a new low price of $59.

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And how do you follow up the Amazon Microwave? With the Amazon Smart Oven, bundled with an Echo Dot. Amazon also extends the reach of your control via Amazon Sidewalk.

This article was originally published on Sept. 25. It has since been updated.  

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