Well, it’s Amazon Prime Day again, and we’re using it as the perfect excuse to make all of those upgrades we’ve been dreaming about.
The collection of deals, which is taking place all day on Tuesday, July 11 (with certain offers beginning at 9 p.m. ET on Monday) spans everything from homeware to office supplies to electronics. For those who love to cook, though, some of the best prices are in the kitchen department.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best deals you can get on cooking appliances for Amazon Prime Day. (And if you’re on a money-saving high, you can also score free Chick-fil-A on Tuesday for unrelated reasons.)
Best Buy (BBY, +0.86%) is making nice with one of its fiercest rivals, Amazon.com(AMZN, -1.45%), to bolster its ongoing bid to be the leading retailer in the booming smart-home tech area.
The electronics retailer, enjoying a renaissance of late, announced on Wednesday it was expanding space at 700 of its stores to better showcase Amazon’s Echo as well as Google (GOOG, -2.53%)Home and how they interact with other smart home technology it sells such as Philips Hue smart light bulbs, and Nest thermostats. The strategy is Best Buy’s latest push into smart home tech: a few weeks ago, Best Buy announced a major new partnership with Vivint, a company that installs home monitoring services and solar panels.
The retailer last month announced a surprise increase in comparable sales for the first-quarter, with home tech a major source of that growth. That sent shares to record highs.
While the 10-foot-by 4-foot Amazon and Google displays won’t be as large or fancy as Best Buy’s current store-within-a-store arrangements with the likes of Samsung and Apple (AAPL, -1.52%), and will be staffed by Best Buy workers, they are part of Best Buy’s efforts to offer customers consultations and advice they can’t find online, a key prong in its successful strategy to beat back at online competitors like Amazon.
As reported by Barron’s this week, Piper Jaffray analyst Peter Keith recently called Best Buy “the biggest consumer retail beneficiary for smart home adoption” positioned to ride growing interest in smart home products.
The Amazon Echo is likely to prove one of, if not the most popular tech gift of the festive season, meaning the company now has an ear and a voice in thousands more homes around the world. Indeed, the company has just announced sales of the gadget are up 9x on last Christmas.
When we welcome personal assistants like Alexa in the Echo and Assistant in Google Home we tend to think of the positives; like how they can help you find information, control your music and operate your smart home gadgets.
We spend less time thinking about how something that records your utterances and saves them to the cloud could some day work against you… like in a murder trial, for instance.
The Information reports (via Engadget) police in Arkansas in the US made a request to Amazon to release voice data from an Echo owned by James Andrew Bates, who is scheduled to stand trial for first degree murder next year.
Amazon has greeted the request with a big fat ‘NO’ according to the report, but did hand over Bates’ purchase history. The report says police were able to pull some data from the speaker, but it’s not clear what.
Alexa isn’t supposed to record audio unless activated by using her name (or Amazon or Echo) specifically, while those recordings are also synced to the companion app where they can be played back.
However, that’s not where the Internet of Things role in the case ends.
Bates also has a smart home gadget that registered 140 gallons of water had been used on the night the alleged crime was committed, with investigators claiming that may have been used to wash away evidence.
Needless to say, Bates’ defense team isn’t keen on the IoT tech being used in the trial.
“You have an expectation of privacy in your home, and I have a big problem that law enforcement can use the technology that advances our quality of life against us,” defense attorney Kimberly Weber said.
Whether or not the evidence is ruled admissible, or more information can be obtained from Amazon remains to be seen.
However, it’s certainly food for thought on the potential perils of welcoming all of those always-listening, always-collecting items of tech into our homes.
CES 2017 is about to enter full-swing, and ahead of the big press conferences, LG has teased some of its upcoming products.
The South Korean firm appears to be going big on robots this year, in an attempt to, in its words “showcase LG innovations in artificial intelligence.”
Perhaps the most exciting new addition in this new robot lineup is the ‘Hub Robot’, which looks to be the company’s answer to the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
The new device will apparently “double as a smart home gateway and a personal assistant for consumers,” which is essentially what Amazon and Google’s alternatives do.
LG announced the Hub Robot along with some other robotic companions, one of which has been designed to help users with gardening.
The company also says it will launch “models designed for commercial use in public spaces such as airports and hotels to help improve the traveler’s experience”.
LG’s press conference, set to get underway at 4pm GMT tomorrow (Jan 4), will see the robots properly unveiled, which should no doubt yield further details.
According to the firm’s announcement, the new robots will use “powerful analytical processing power… to navigate complex environments and decipher the most efficient and effective path to accomplish tasks”.
There’s no word on when the new devices will actually be made available, as the company says it’s merely “previewing” the robots at CES.
That said, we’re hoping to hear something during the conference on possible release dates and pricing, so stay tuned for the latest.
Amazon’s Echo Dot is now shipping and is available on Amazon.co.uk priced at £49.99.
We’re busy beavering away on a full review, but until then here are our first impressions of the sister device to the Amazon Echo. It gives you access to Alexa without the Bluetooth speaker-like experience.
That’s because, unlike the fully-fledged Echo, the Dot doesn’t have full speaker drivers of its own, just a smaller speaker for voice feedback and alarm functionality. It’s not, therefore, designed to play music on its own.
Instead, it has a line-out for a wired connection to a separate AV receiver or speaker system. It can also connect to a Bluetooth speaker wirelessly, so handy if you have a preferred one of those lying around.
But while there’s no booming speaker, the Echo Dot offers the full Alexa voice-controlled system, as with the larger Echo.
Alexa is Amazon’s cloud-based information bot, that responds to vocal commands and can be used to find information on the web or control many smart devices around your home.
For example, we used it to control Hue lighting connected to the same network, and to play music through a mighty speaker stack in the corner.
The small, puck-like Echo Dot is simple to install and use. You connect it to the power, hook it up to your wireless network and away you go. Bark “Alexa” at it and it wakes up ready to be instructed with other commands.
You can find out football results, forthcoming fixtures, even get it to read books to you.
It has been around in the US for a while, but this new model is faster and more efficient. It also has regional accent variations depending on your location. Our demo was with the UK edition, so it spoke with a British accent – sounding a little like a computerised version of Holly Willoughby.
We will need to give it a thorough test to find out what it’s fully capable of, especially in a UK sense considering it can hook up to Sky News and other local services, but for now, its £50 price point seems like good value for something that could change the way you interact with your home.
I can also work independently to the main Amazon Echo, so you can scatter several around the home, but you would, in that case, need multiple separate speakers to get the most from it, something that Sonos users will presumably be able to take advantage of when it launches its tie-in in 2017.