As weird as it feels to have the two shopping holidays so close together, this month-and-a-half-long limbo period between Prime Day and Black Friday has actually brought us some of the best deals we've ever seen on Amazon devices. First, it was the third-generation Echo Dot from 2018 (and a bonus smart bulb). As of Oct. 26, you can score a two-pack of the all-new Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Dot with Clock, or Echo Flex for up to $30 off using some coupon codes we found nestled within each device's product page. The star of Amazon's fourth-gen series, the all-new Echo is a minimalist orb of a smart speaker equipped with a zippy AZ1 Neural Edge processor, a Zigbee smart home hub, and an LED ring light (located on its base). Mashable hasn't gotten a chance to review it yet, but our friends over at PCMag say its audio quality is "impressive" considering its size and price point (which was one of the reasons they gave it an Editor's Choice Award).
According IoT Analytics, there are over 17 Billion connected devices in the world as of 2018, with over 7 Billion of these "internet of things" (IoT) devices. The Internet of Things is the collection of those various sensors, devices, and other technologies that aren't meant to directly interact with consumers, like phones or computers. Rather, IoT devices help provide information, control, and analytics to connect a world of hardware devices to each other and the greater internet. With the advent of cheap sensors and low cost connectivity, IoT devices are proliferating. From 1 to 5 April, everything at Hannover Messe will revolve around networking, learning machines and the Internet of Things.
Only 10 years ago, artificial intelligence (AI) was just a lofty concept for consumers, appearing in pop culture references or fleeting news stories. Today, it pervades every corner of life, from Siri on our iPhones, to smart home security systems, to the recommended products in our Amazon feed. Everywhere we look, AI has become part of our daily processes -- and as we live, learn and work from home amidst the pandemic, this has only accelerated. It's safe to say that AI is no longer just a novel concept; it's a convenience we've come to expect in day-to-day life. What's interesting to me is that, in customer care, the benefits of AI are not quite so widely welcomed.
SAVE $46: As of Oct. 22, Best Buy is running an early Black Friday deal where you can get a third-gen Amazon Echo Dot (normally $49.99) and a free Sengled smart bulb (normally $14.99) for just $18.99 -- a 71% total savings. Amazon's third-gen Echo Dot never officially sold out on Prime Day, but you may recall that its pricing was so good during the two-day annual shopping event -- 62% off, baby-- that several variants were back-ordered through early December. With that in mind, we've got some good news and some bad news to share. First, the bad (because it's 2020 and you're probably sort of used to it by now): The bestselling smart speaker from 2018 is back up to $39.99 on Amazon and all four colors are now back-ordered as late as Dec. 16, with estimated delivery dates as far back as Dec. 31 even with speedy Prime shipping. SEE ALSO: Black Friday is going to be weird this year -- and that's a good thing But all is not lost: The good news is that Best Buy now has the Echo Dot on sale at its Prime Day pricing, and three variants are ready to ship out ASAP. (That's basically the retailer equivalent of a power move.)
How does the latest Echo compare to other top smart speakers? The newest thing about the 2020 Echo is its round design. In the box, we find the ball speaker and a power adapter. As with all Echo speakers, you don't need any substantial directions to get it up and running. Just plug it in, open the Alexa app, and follow the prompts when, after a few seconds, the new speaker is detected and a pop-up appears asking whether to set the speaker up.
The fourth generation of Amazon's Echo smart speaker marks a radical departure in industrial design, ditching the familiar columnar form factor of previous iterations for something that looks for all the world like a child's bowling ball. Two things haven't changed: The Echo (and Alexa) remain our favorite tools for smart home control, and the company still trails Sonos in terms of building smart speakers that sound great. The recent introduction of the Nest Audio leaves Amazon in third place behind Google in terms of audio performance (don't forget the powerful Google Home Max). Amazon continues to make strides in terms of audio quality, and the fourth-gen Echo sounds very good, especially if you like your tunes leavened with bass. But in a three-way comparison with the Nest Audio and the Sonos One (which, I should note, costs twice as much as either of its competitors), the Echo comes up just a wee bit short, as I'll discuss a bit later.
The scope of ML is to mimic the way the human brain processes inputs to generate logical responses. If people rely on learning, training or experience, machines need an algorithm. Also, as each of us learns more, we adapt our reactions, become more skilled and start to apply our efforts selectively. Replicating this self-regulatory behavior in machines is the finish line of ML development. Under the broad umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT), we can find anything ranging from your smartphone to a smart fridge to sensors monitoring industrial processes.
The revamped, fourth-generation Echo Dot has arrived, and it comes with a spherical design that sets it well apart from its smaller, flatter predecessors. But while it boasts an all-new look, the latest Echo Dot is essentially the same speaker as the (now steeply discounted) third-gen Dot, complete with onboard Alexa, stellar smart home capabilities, impressive communication features, and the ability to keep an ear on your home via Alexa Guard. And while we're pleased with how the new Dot sounds, its front-firing driver doesn't deliver a quantum leap over the older Dot's audio quality. So yes, the fourth-gen Echo Dot is technically the best Dot yet, but only by a narrow margin. Available in charcoal, glacier white, and twilight blue flavors, the fourth-gen Echo Dot marks a major departure in terms of the speaker's look and feel.
Google has discontinued its Nest Secure Alarm System, though it will continue to support it for existing customers. As Android Police first reported, the bundle's listing on the Google Store now says "No longer available." It first arrived in 2017 and included several products: an "all-in-one security base" called Nest Guard with an alarm, keypad, and motion sensor; a separate sensor called Nest Detect that could be placed on a window or door to keep tabs on whether it's open or closed, along with the motion in a room; and Nest Tag, a fob that attached to your keychain, letting you arm and disarm the alarm system without a passcode. In PCMag's review, we concluded that Nest Secure was "a good, albeit pricey, choice for homeowners who have already invested in the Nest ecosystem with devices like the Learning Thermostat, Protect smoke alarm, and one or more Nest Cams." The product received a 3.5 rating, getting dinged on price ($399), the lack of support for Amazon Alexa and IFTTT, and the inability to trigger other devices. Last year, Nest Secure gained access to Google Assistant, but Assistant requires a microphone to work, and Google never disclosed that Nest Secure had one built-in to the Nest Guard.
Save $20: The Arlo Video Doorbell is on sale at Best Buy, Home Depot, and Amazon for $129.99 as of Oct. 19 in an early Black Friday deal. Many of us have put extra focus on our homes this year. Maybe you spent the summer working on your green thumb or hopped on the trend of making fresh bread so your house can feel (and smell) like a home. But don't forget home security. Even if you never thought of yourself as a home security camera person, this tech has gotten cheaper and cheaper in the past few years, and more accessible to more people.