Alexa Stories November 13

It’s hard to be a lover of both antiques and technology these days. This is due in part to the majority of consumers that expect tech companies to ship futuristic looking devices that get thinner and more minimalist in each iteration. While this isn’t likely to bother too many of us, there are still quite a few who truly enjoy retro styling accompanied by the latest and greatest tech.

If having Alexa in an antique phone is something that you’ve always dreamed of, Grain Design may have just what you have been looking for. The company is producing what it calls Alexaphones. These devices are composed of real antique telephones with an Echo Dot connected directly to the receiver. expand full story

Alexa Stories October 31

expiredAnker’s Genie Smart Speaker provides access to Alexa-exclusive Black Friday deals: $17.50 (50% off)

Eufy Home (owned by Anker) via Amazon is offering its Genie Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa for $17.49 shipped when clipping the on-page coupon. That’s 50% off the going rate offered by retailers like Amazon and within $3 of the lowest price we have tracked. This speaker makes for a cost-effective alternative to Amazon’s Echo lineup. It’s also an easy way to gain access to Alexa-exclusive Black Friday deals. Rated 4+ stars by nearly 65% of reviewers. Learn more by taking a look at our hands-on review.

Alexa Stories October 12

Earlier today, Amazon announced on its developer blog that it is providing new ways for Echo devices to communicate with smart doorbells and cameras. More specifically, developers now have access to three new APIs called Doorbell Event Source, Motion Sensor, and Alexa.RTCSessionController. It’s a move that is not too surprising considering that Amazon bought Ring, a pillar of the smart doorbell industry, earlier this year for around a billion dollars.

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Alexa Stories September 30

expiredEcho Spot offers Alexa with a built-in display for $100 (Reg. $130), more

PC Richard & Son offers the Amazon Echo Spot in black for $99.99 shipped. Regularly $130, it just dropped to $110 at Amazon and other authorized retailers. Today’s deal is $30 off and a match for the best that we’ve seen. Echo Spot offers a unique take on Alexa with its built-in display that relays pertinent information. You can also make video calls to other Alexa devices with the built-in camera. Learn more in our hands-on review. Rated 4.5/5 stars. Head below for more.

Alexa Stories September 6

Considering that the list of smart home accessories keeps growing larger and larger, there always seem to be shiny, new options vying for our attention. Just last week we reported that Philips, a company probably best-known in the smart home world for its Hue light bulbs, has a hybrid switch in the works set to replace or join its current offerings. With options from Lutron, Wemo and others, there are certainly lots of switch products to consider, but with today’s release of Brilliant Control, things just got even more competitive.

Of all the options out there, Brilliant Control seems like it may have the chops to take the crown as being the most daring and innovative. Coming in with four models, Brilliant Control sports a built-in display, camera, controls for at least one light, and the promise that it ‘works with all smart home products’. expand full story

Alexa Stories July 26

Amazon has launched yet another feature for its ever-growing virtual assistant. With the arrival of Alexa Cast, Amazon has created a foundation to compete with Apple’s AirPlay and Google’s Cast. The new feature allows users to ‘cast’ what they are listening to on their smartphone to nearby Alexa devices. While functionality is quite limited at launch, its capabilities will likely grow over time. expand full story

Alexa Stories July 18

In a world that has become packed with smart home products like thermostats, lightbulbs, power outlets, and more, it is only natural for the trend to hit new product categories and for more companies to join in and capitalize on the ever-growing interest in home automation. GE’s new microwave oven is the company’s latest addition to its smart home platform, referred to as WiFi Connect. Noteworthy features include Alexa integration and scan-to-cook technology, offering users the ability to scan barcodes on food products and have cooking instructions sent directly to the microwave.

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Alexa Stories March 30

Alexa seems to be inserting itself everywhere into our lives. You can use an Echo device to change your thermostat, start your car, order an Uber, or turn lights on and off. There are so many things you can do with Alexa, and it’s only expanding.

Today, Amazon announced expansions to its Video API and partnerships with many major TV companies. Soon, you’ll be able to say “Alexa, record Mythbusters” and the show will automatically be set to record on your DVR. Read on for more information.

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Alexa Stories February 22

expiredAdd two Amazon Echo Dots to your smart home for $70 ($100 value)

Best Buy offers two Amazon Echo Dots for $69.98 shipped. Separately, the Echo Dot normally runs around $50, with the current Amazon promotion giving you $10 off when you buy two. This sale matches the last offer we saw direct from Amazon last week. Over 97,000 Amazon shoppers rated it 4.3/5 stars.

Alexa Stories February 9

We’re finally starting to see more and more third-party smart speakers using platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. One of those smart speakers is made by British company KitSound, called the Voice One. I’ve spent the past week or so with this premium Alexa speaker running it through its paces, so let’s dive into our full review.

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Alexa Stories December 13, 2016

This year, our favorite gadget pick was a no-brainer. The currently $39.99 Echo Dot took an already revolutionary Echo speaker, released in 2014 for $199 and made it so much better and accessible for everyone, in every room.

Knowing how much this changes people’s lives for $40 makes this the no-brainer Christmas technology item.

The original Echo was pretty cool but had its quirks. Alexa, the speech recognition behind it was still learning. The ecosystem was non-existent and frankly the speaker wasn’t – and still isn’t – fantastic, especially for its $199 price tag (currently $139 but ships after Christmas).

But Amazon kept plugging away at its Alexa speech recognition/responses and with its retail might and influence was able to sign up partners from all over the smart home ecosystem and internet services. Example of how hardcore they’ve been: Even Alphabet’s Nest works well with the Echo Speaker and my Google domains calendar works with Echo but not with Google’s own $129 challenger the Google Home(!!).

In, fact, Google’s Home attempt and its mediocre debut, still in its early stages, proved to me how well Amazon had done over the past 2 years with feedback and differentiation, while Apple and Google let the smart speaker business pass it by. Next year might be different with Google Home learning a lot more tricks and Apple releasing a ‘Siri Home’ type of product, but it is clear, 2016 is Amazon’s Echo Dot’s year.

Incidentally, I think Google and Apple thought that having a smartphone on you at all times would obviate the need for a smart speaker – and initially I thought this as well – and that’s why they are late to the game. But truly being hands free has changed my thinking entirely.

Let’s drill down the hardware and software and see why this is our best product for 2016:

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Alexa Stories May 17, 2016

Amazon announced today that it will be bringing its popular Alex voice service to Fire TV. First made popular on its Echo Smart Speaker, the intelligent assistant will be able to control a variety of functions on the streaming media player. Of course, Apple TV has had Siri functionality since the current generation was released last October. How does the Fire TV’s new found feature stack up? Head below for more.

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Alexa Stories April 28, 2016

When Amazon first launched its Echo Smart Speaker last year, it also set up a $100 million investment fund to help bring its Alexa developer kit to additional third-party devices. Today, that money is coming to fruition with the new Triby voice-controlled smart hub and speaker.

This is the first non-Amazon device to utilize Alexa’s Voice Service, although we have seen DIY projects that are able to leverage it. Not only does it offer support for the popular virtual assistant, this portable speaker is packed with other features like VoIP, Spotify Connect and more. Full details below.

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Alexa Stories April 19, 2016

expiredAmazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo is on sale for $154 (Reg. $180), Tap Bluetooth Speaker $111 (Reg. $130)

Amazon is discounting a pair of its Alexa-enabled devices this morning. Free shipping is available on each deal. First up, the Amazon Echo Smart Speaker is on sale for $153.71 shipped. That’s good for $26 off the regular going rate, within $4 of our previous mention and the best available. For further comparison, Amazon has sold it for less to select credit card holders but those deals have had limited availability.

Since it was released, the Echo has received a 4.4/5 star rating from over 35,000 Amazon customers. Additionally, it is also the best-selling home automation controller on the site. In our hands-on review, we found the Echo to be a “life-changing” device with impressive potential. This voice-controlled 360-degree omni-directional speaker is designed to sit in your home and provide “instant” access to a wide variety of information by saying “Hey Alexa…”. It can control your smart home devices (Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, others) and play music from streaming services.

Also on sale today is the Amazon Tap Bluetooth Speaker with Alexia Voice capabilities for $111.01 shipped. This is a $19 discount and the first sale that we’ve seen since it was released in early March. Amazon’s best-selling outdoor speaker features a built-in microphone with Alexa and dual stereo speakers for music playback via Bluetooth. The 360-degree design pumps out music from your favorite services like Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora and more. You can expect up to nine hours of playback on a single charge. It has collected a 4/5 star rating by 430 Amazon customers.

Alexa Stories August 21, 2015

The expanding list of SmartThings compatible sensors, outlets, thermometers, bulbs and more for your house is getting a new controller hub to keep everything connected. Come September, the next gen Samsung SmartThings hub will come available with a few special features in tow:

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