Amazon announced the new Echo Show 10, a $250 device with a screen that turns to follow you around the room — and which will soon add Netflix support.
The company also took the wraps off Luna, a new cloud gaming service running on AWS with about 50 titles at launch and an initial subscription price of $6 per month (and an add-on subscription games channel from Ubisoft), a redesigned Fire TV user interface coming this year, a new $99 Echo speaker with a spherical shape, and enhancements to the Alexa voice assistant. Amazon made the announcements as part of its holiday-season devices and services preview Thursday.
But the ecommerce giant did not provide any update on the status of bringing WarnerMedia’s HBO Max or NBCUniversal’s Peacock to Fire TV devices. In an interview, Marc Whitten, Amazon’s VP of entertainment devices and services, declined to comment on “ongoing negotiations” but called both WarnerMedia and NBCU “incredible partners.”
The Echo Show 10 will rotate to show you the screen as you wander around a room, using a virtually silent brushless motor and motion-sensing processing (which remains local to the device, Amazon emphasized. You can turn motion off by sliding the built-in camera shutter closed, adjusting the settings or by saying, “Alexa, turn off motion.”
Popular on Variety
And, in addition to support for Prime Video and Hulu, Echo Show will soon be able to stream Netflix simply by asking Alexa, with the ability to search, browse, and stream the entire catalog.
“Bringing Netflix to [the Echo Show] sort of takes it to the next level,” said Dave Limp. Amazon’s SVP of devices.
The Echo Show 10 features a brighter 10-inch HD screen and a 13-megapixel camera. Available in charcoal and glacier white, the device will “start shipping in time for the holidays,” the company said.
Amazon announced a new Fire TV Stick ($40) and the new Fire TV Stick Lite ($30), which both provide full-HD 1080p streaming with HDR compatibility and the Alexa Voice Remote and a faster 1.7 GHz quad-core processor. Whitten said both models are 50% faster than the prior-generation Fire TV Stick and consume 50% less power. The main difference with Fire TV Stick Lite: its has a simplified remote that doesn’t include TV or A/V system controls.
In addition, the company previewed a new personalized Fire TV interface, which puts the Main Menu at the center of the screen — so you can jump into streaming services directly or see what’s inside to begin playback. The new UI also will let you add up to six Fire TV user profiles, each with individual settings like content recommendations, viewing history, watch lists and preferred settings. (Those profiles can sync up with profiles created in Prime Video.) The redesigned Fire TV experience will begin rolling out later this year, starting with the new Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite.
Amazon’s new Fire TV user interface
On the gaming front, Amazon Luna represents a new competitor to other cloud-based services like Google’s Stadia, Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass and Sony’s PlayStation Now.
Luna will let customers play games on their on Fire TV, PC, and Mac as well as on web apps for iPhone and iPad, with Android coming soon. Early access to Luna will begin in October. (Watch the Luna launch trailer here.)
Players can subscribe to the Luna Plus game channel for $6 per month during an early-access period. The service initially will include about 50 titles, including action games like “Resident Evil 7,” “Control” and “Panzer Dragoon”; adventure games like “A Plague Tale: Innocence” and “The Surge 2”; platform games like “Sonic Mania Plus,” “Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair” and “Iconoclasts”; and fan favorites like “GRID,” “ABZU” and “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.”
Amazon also announced a new gaming channel with Ubisoft, available directly through Luna (with pricing yet to be announced). Players who subscribe to the Ubisoft channel will have access to games in up to 4K resolution, as well as mobile gameplay, including upcoming titles like “Assassins Creed Valhalla,” “Far Cry 6” and “Immortals Fenyx Rising” the same day they release.
Amazon Luna home screen
“We created Luna to make it easy to play great games on the devices customers already own and love,” Whitten said.
For now, however, Luna will not include original titles from Amazon Game Studios such as “New World” and “Crucible.”
As you might expect, Luna is integrated with Amazon’s Twitch: Within the Luna experience, players will see Twitch livestreams; conversely, from Twitch, Luna subscribers will be able to start playing Luna games where available. Users can play Luna with a keyboard and mouse, a Bluetooth game controller, or the Luna Controller with Cloud Direct ($50 intro price), which Amazon claims has lower latency than a Bluetooth-based controller.
Other Amazon devices and Alexa announcements of note:
Echo Speakers: The new flagship Echo ($100) features a new spherical design and fabric finish, 3.0-inch woofer, dual-firing tweeters, Dolby stereo sound, and a built-in smart home hub; the Echo Dot ($50) and Echo Dot with clock ($60) have the same spherical design as Echo; and Echo Dot Kids Edition ($60), available in panda and tiger designs and includes a one-year Amazon Kids Plus subscription.
The new spherical Echo speaker
Alexa Features and Enhancements: These include “natural turn taking,” which lets you to speak to Alexa without using a wake word during the course of a conversation; group calling for up to eight people (e.g., “Alexa, call my family”); Zoom and Amazon Chime support for on Echo Show; music sharing to another Echo device or through the Alexa app; voice profiles for kids, so Alexa will automatically switch to the Amazon Kids experience when a child is speaking; and “interactive teaching,” which gives users the ability to directly teach Alexa what they mean (e.g., if you say, “Alexa, it’s dark in here,” you can instruct the voice assistant about what action to take — say, turn on a light).
Alexa Privacy: Users can now set their Alexa-enabled devices to automatically delete all voice recordings (including by saying, “Alexa, delete everything I’ve said”). Alexa also can now answer more privacy-related questions such as, “How do I manage my data?” and “How does my data improve Alexa?” Amazon provides more info at the Alexa Privacy Hub.
Ring Security Devices: Amazon introduced three new Ring Car Security devices (which are first available for Teslas) and the Ring Always Home Cam — an autonomous indoor drone with a camera, which flies around your house on customer-preset paths to provide different views within the home, without the need to purchase multiple stationary cameras.
Ring Always Home Cam indoor drone