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Alexa earbuds and a new Echo: what to expect from Amazon’s launch event

gX54kBra3iRqDmzzgDbLk5 - Alexa earbuds and a new Echo: what to expect from Amazon's launch event

Amazon is gearing up for a huge launch on September 25, and rumors of new Echo devices are flying in the run up to the Seattle event. While Amazon hasn’t revealed what we can expect to see at the launch, we know from previous experience that these annual events tend to see in a host of new Amazon Echo hardware. Last year’s showcase saw upgraded Echo Dot and Echo Plus speakers, as well as far-out devices like the Echo Wall Clock and even an Alexa-powered microwave.Amazon’s propensity for releasing unusual Alexa-enabled home appliances means that it’s always difficult to predict what its September showcase will reveal, but there are a few things we’re hoping to see on September 25. 

A better-sounding Amazon Echo
The Amazon Echo is a popular way to bring the smarts of Alexa into the home, but the diminutive smart speaker is somewhat lacking in the audio department. Even the Amazon Echo Plus, which is billed as Amazon’s premium sound system, still doesn’t stand up against the competition, so we’re hoping that the Echo will be given an audio makeover, making it as sonically capable as top-tier audio gear, while retaining an accessible price point. According to a report by CNBC, which cites a source “directly involved with the project”, Amazon is in fact set to release a new Amazon Echo speaker – a bulkier device with improved sound quality.The speaker is reportedly “designed to be the central speaker in Alexa’s core home market,” which suggests that it might usurp the original Amazon Echo – and with “a woofer and a higher quality speaker”, it should address some of the audio issues suffered by its predecessor.
Read our Amazon Echo Plus review
Alexa-powered true wireless earbuds
The same report alleges that Amazon is going to launch a pair of fitness-focussed true wireless earbuds at the September 25 launch event, putting the company in direct competition with the Apple AirPods for the first time. These buds will apparently double up as a fitness tracker, with a built-in accelerometer and the ability to monitor things like “distance run, calories burned and pace of running”. The new earbuds will reportedly cost less than $100 (£80 / AU$150), which would undercut the Apple AirPods (and much of the true wireless competition) by a fairly large margin. They’ll also come with Alexa built in, giving access to the voice assistant on the go.
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More Fire TV devices
We’d love to see an extension of the Fire TV-in-an-actual-television trend that the company has kicked off this year. The Fire TV interface is robust and feature-rich, but so far it’s been paired with only middling TV panels; a premium set with Fire TV built in would be exciting to see.Most recently we saw the JVC Fire TV Edition 4K HDR TV, which we think will be a perfectly acceptable budget television – though it will likely struggle to make use of the high resolution and HDR capability Amazon is currently boasting for the set.It would be great to see something a little more high-spec for the Fire TV platform… perhaps even an 8K model?
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More advanced Echo home appliances
Amazon has pushed Alexa into products as diverse as clocks, microwaves, and cars, but it’s struggled to make a real impact in the home appliance sector, with some of these devices lacking the intelligence of its smart speakers. The Amazon Echo Wall Clock, for example, only has the added functionality of a timer (and a nifty light-up countdown).Perhaps a more feature-rich timepiece, a talking clock even, powered by onboard Alexa, would be a massive improvement over what we currently have.
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