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By way the FCC, I have a sneaking suspicion that Amazon is set to unveil a new Fire tablet. And, unlike prior models, this mystery device (SG98EG, 2ADU6-8274) lists microSD support. Whether or not the storage expansion slot can only be accessed during engineering testing and if this is really an Amazon product remain to be seen. But please enjoy this bit of gibberish (aka Jib Wresh LLC) while we await unveiling of the “Tablet PC” … and hopefully another Fire TV or two.

kindle-fire-microsd

ps4-remote

Sony is set to correct a massive PS4 shortcoming with a full-featured universal remote. Not only does it utilize Bluetooth for console control, but IR is included to operate your TV and soundbar – or whatever else, given its four device capabilities. I’ll go ahead and make a few assumptions that core apps, such as Netflix and Playstation Vue, will be natively supported and that those unlabeled multicolored buttons are programmable (to create shortcuts to, say, launch that aforementioned Netflix). Of course, the comparatively svelte PS4 will now need a tuner accessory and DVR capabilities like Xbox One. ;) Whereas I’d expect something like this to run something like $50, Best Buy has it up for pre-order at $30 with an anticipated October 12th delivery (while Amazon has it shipping October 27th).

By way of the FCC, we see August is primed to shortly expand their lineup with a Smart Keypad. Whatever that is. While we loved the aesthetics of their original Yves Behar-designed smart lock, we ultimately preferred Kevo to August — choosing functionality over form. Yet, August appears well-funded with a stellar team… so we do expect good things from them. As to what exactly this is, it seems likely it could be another door opening solution — and it seems several in the home automation space are reaching beyond individual consumers to hotel chains and the like. It’s also possible that this could be some sort of home control panel, as I imagine August has aspirations beyond the front door.

august-keypad

In other Amazon Echo news, the companion iPhone app has been rechristened. Where “Amazon Echo” once lived, I now find “Amazon Alexa” — curious, no? CNET’s John Falcone reasonably wonders if this signals additional Alexa-capable hardware in the pipeline. Indeed, Amazon has opened the voice-powered platform up to third parties and this might be a nice, centralized place to interact with those devices. Further, with indications of new Fire TV models and Fire OS 5 headed to existing devices, I could see the streamer’s generic voice search rebranded and unified under Alexa with an additional interface via this app. Not to mention, Amazon clearly has all sorts of crazy gadgets under development.

Alexa-app

Drop that zero and get with a hero. Amazon Echo is about to link up with Samsung SmartThings – a more reliable home automation platform with presumably better long term prospects compared to Wink, a prior Echo integration.

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We’re excited to announce that SmartThings is now compatible with Amazon Echo! By starting sentences with “Alexa,” you can play music, hear the news, get the forecast, and now… control your SmartThings-compatible lights, switches, and anything plugged in to the SmartThings Power Outlet. To get a sense of what’s now possible, here’s a quick demonstration showing SmartThings and Echo controlling a Cree bulb, an Osram Lightify bulb, a SmartPower Outlet, and a Sonos player…

(Thanks Joseph!)

By way of the FCC, we learn something that looks like a third generation Nest Theromostat is en route… with 5GHz joining the party. Now I can’t say for certain the unnamed Nest device is another learning thermostat. But the round profile, with label on back, identified as model ZQAT30 (versus the 2nd gen’s ZQAT20) sure seems suggestive.

As the test firm received their sample back in April, but there was no mention of a thermostat refresh at Nest’s June press event, I’ll go ahead and assume some production or engineering kinks have delayed an announcement. As to additional features, beyond new wireless capabilities, no remote sensors have popped (unless that’s what this is)… which has become something of a shortcoming compared to the highly regarded (and now HomeKit-compatible) ecobee t-stat.

I tend to avoid most gadgety Kickstarters, given their poor track record in delivering high quality products on time, if at all. But Sideclick deserves some special attention — as this accessory meets a real need and they’re far enough along in development that they’ve been able to send some review samples out.

sideclick-animation

As those of us with Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV are well aware, their respective diminutive remotes don’t control our televisions. And not all situations should require a Harmony investment. Enter Sideclick, a clever modular accessory that consists of an IR learning remote and a replaceable cradle custom fit for your particular streamer. What you lose in ergonomics and beauty, you presumably more than make up for with less clutter and improved convenience.

Looks like they’re shooting for an early 2016 launch, running about $30 for a remote and cradle bundle, with replacement cradles running perhaps $8 a pop. I personally don’t feel the need to pre-order, especially with new Apple TV and Fire TV hardware on the horizon. But color me interested.

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Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  August 18, 2015 — 9 Comments

All the news that’s fit to click…