This year’s 2021 Amazon event held a lot of surprises. There was a smart home robot called Astro that combines huge swathes of Amazon’s technology portfolio into one companion device – smart displays, video cameras, and the like – as well as an Amazon Glow toy for games beamed via projector onto the floor in front of it.
We also saw more information about a Ring camera drone, a new security system and Wi-Fi 6 router in the Ring Alarm Pro, a Blink Video doorbell, a Halo View fitness tracker with a built-in screen, and more.
But for every big surprise announcement, there was also a notable absence.
Despite Amazon having built its technology reputation on the Amazon Echo speaker range, there were no new iterations to be had. Considering previous years have seen reimaginings of the Echo (with the kind of glowing orb befitting a Pixar villain) or even Echo Studio speakers that an audiophile wouldn’t feel completely embarrassed to be caught listening to, it’s odd not to see anything announced in that product category this time around.
As a category at the core of Amazon’s gadget ranges, though, it’s clear that the retail giant still has big plans for it – and more hardware iterations will certainly come next year for a number of Echo models.
When it comes to Black Friday, then, there should be plenty of discounts on existing models to keep up interest in the Echo range – and shift aging stock before a new generation of Echo speakers arrive on the scene.
Last year we saw price cuts on a number of Amazon products, including $20/£20 the RRP of the fourth-gen Echo Dot, $40/£40 off the Fire TV Cube, $60/£60 off the Ring Video doorbell, and the like.
We already see lower prices on the third-gen Echo Dot (now $40 / £40 compared to the fourth-gen’s $50 / £50) and that gulf is only likely to widen in the sales period. Everything from the mainline Amazon Echo to the higher-end Echo Studio should be seeing price cuts too – and the absence of any immediate Echo hardware refreshes means the focus will be entirely on older models.
This gear is on fire…
We similarly expect to see discounts on the Fire TV range. It was highly unusual not to see any new Fire TV products announced at an Amazon launch event, though it’s likely down to the Fire TV models that were already on the horizon.
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max was unveiled a few weeks previously – possibly to allow the September event to focus on other gadgets and first-time products, like the Astro smart home robot – while Amazon’s range of Omni smart TVs are already on the scene too.
Cheaper, older Fire TV Sticks like the Fire TV Stick (2020) and Fire TV Stick Lite – even the regular Fire TV Stick 4K – should all get $10-$20/£10-£20 off their RRPs, making Black Friday the best time to buy a new Amazon streamer, if you didn’t end up buying one during the Prime Day sales earlier in the year.
Even the 4K Max model could well get a small saving, though, as Amazon tries to jump-start interest in the new dongle with a flash discount, and we could see the same thing with the new Halo View fitness tracker – which builds on the Halo wrist gadget with a screen.
So where new hardware is available, it’s well worth checking out whether the latest model in a range is getting a discount – before you settle on a less advanced version for a similar price.
We don’t expect to see Black Friday discounts on the Astro robot – largely because it’s part of Amazon’s ‘Day 1 Edition’ program for innovative products, so you need to sign up for the privilege of buying one. It’s also only available in the US for now. But if you’re considering the adorable (dangerous?) little scamp, the $999 launch price is expected to rise to $1,499 after the first few months on sale – so it may be the real saving to be had before 2021 is out.