Statistically speaking, most of your holiday presents this year will have come from Amazon. Online ordering for the holidays has been growing over the years, surpassing the in-store experience. Amazon has a lot of great products after all, but what about the stuff actually produced under its name?
From the Echo to the Fire and everything in between, here are some great Amazon-made products that just about anyone on your shopping list would love to find wrapped in decorative paper under the tree.
Don’t miss: Amazon’s Black Friday deals
Okay, this isn’t a physical product, but it’s arguably one of the best things you can get from Amazon and it makes a great gift. If you do get it as a gift, we would recommend that you get the 12-month membership, which costs $119.
You probably already know about the free 2-day shipping and the Amazon Prime Video, but there is a lot more to a Prime membership. For example, take a look at Amazon Prime Now. If you think 2-day shipping is great, try 2-hour shipping. In many metro markets, Amazon Prime Now offers you the ability to order any number of items and have them delivered to your door within hours. It’s great for last-minute needs and impulse buys.
Also included in an Amazon Prime membership is Amazon Prime Music. Amazon Prime music is a like a lot of music streaming services. It features 2 million songs (as opposed to 30 million boasted by other services) but it also has Anthrax, so awesome. Add to that, Amazon Pantry, Amazon Dash buttons, Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, discounts at Whole Foods grocery stores, and access to Twitch Prime, and you have a year’s worth of value for friends and loved ones.
Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus
Amazon also revolutionized the Home assistant market with its original Amazon Echo. Since then, the Echo line has expanded to include many more products, including the Echo Dot, which recently launched its third generation version. The Echo adds a lot of functionality to your home, including home automation, weather, quick searches, and TV control. You can ask Alexa to play a movie on the TV or play a song from Amazon Music. Does your loved one already have an Echo? No problem. You can play the same song throughout the entire home and communicate with other rooms like an intercom.
Plus, Amazon’s voice recognition technology is top notch. Unlike some other home assistants, Alexa’s voice control is darn near bulletproof. Even in a noisy room, or even form three rooms away, Alexa will almost always recognize the command you give it. That’s handy if you forget to turn off a timer – not that that ever happens.
Don’t forget the Echo Dot, which is the smaller version of the Amazon Echo. It has smaller speakers but it is half the cost of the Echo, and the new third-generation model has 50 percent louder audio, making it an affordable solution to have in multiple places around the home.
There’s also the new second-generation version of the Echo Plus, which not only have better speakers than the standard Echo, but also a built-in smart home hub, so it can directly control things like smart bulbs, thermostats and more.
Echo Show and Echo Spot
Of course, if you want to turn it up a notch, check out the Echo Show, which recently got a big refresh for its second generation version. You get a big 10.1-inch touchscreen to watch videos and chat with friends and family. Alexa is still here, of course, but now instead of talking with you, it can show you things. These include a video flash briefing, Amazon Video content, and the ability to monitor ghosts. Just kidding about that last one, but having a device with a screen takes your personal assistant level-up to 11, even if it doesn’t run Netflix or YouTube (although Skype support is coming soon)
Fire TV devices
Set-top boxes allow you to access a lot of your streaming apps and services on your TV. Amazon has three of those devices currently available. Two of them are HDMI-based stick products; the Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV Stick 4K. Both come with the Alexa Voice remote which you can use to navigate menus. You can also ask Alexa to open content, such as Prime movies or apps. The Fire TV Stick 4K, as the name suggests, also supports 4K Ultra video and HDR if your TV supports it.
More recently, Amazon has launched the Fire TV Cube. This true set-top box also serves as an Echo-style smart speaker with Alexa voice support. It’s supposed to work completely hands-free so even though there is a physical remote, the idea is for you to just use your voice to turn the TV on and off, control the volume and search and play TV shows and movies with the connected Fire TV Cube.
If you want to go bigger, Amazon has partnered with TV makers like Insignia and Toshiba to sell big-screen televisions that have the Fire TV OS built-in, complete with Alexa voice support via their remotes.
Amazon’s Fire line of tablets are extraordinarily popular. The main advantage to the Fire tablet is price – they start at $50 and go up from there. The main disadvantage is the lack of Google ecosystem. Amazon makes up for that with its own extensive catalog of apps available through its own app store, but it’s still worth mentioning. The Kindle Fire line of tablets covers a variety of sizes and styles.
The most popular of the Fire tablets is also the cheapest. The Fire 7 is a bare-bones tablet. As far as basic tablets go, it’s ok, but it can be laggy at times – mostly when the memory is getting filled up. But for basic apps like Netflix or Kindle books, this tablet has the power to get through them. Just don’t plan on playing any heavy duty games.
Also available is the Fire 7 Kids edition. Basically, this is the Kindle Fire 7 with a rubber bumper around the outside of the device. The cool part is the Kids edition come with a 2-year, no questions asked guarantee. If anything happens to the tablet, send it in, and Amazon will replace it. This is certainly a case of knowing one’s audience.
In the middle of the pack is the Fire HD 8 tablet. It recently got an update that added hands-free Alexa voice support. Aside from that and a slightly better front-facing camera, this wasn’t much of an upgrade compared to the previous model. There’s also a Kids edition of this device, again with a rubber bumper and a 2-year guarantee.
On the high end, The Fire HD 10 features a better processor, more RAM, and more onboard storage space. This isn’t a powerhouse tablet that you’ll be editing video with, but it does have more horsepower to get through heavy apps and games which can be very nice. The Fire HD 10 also features hands-free Alexa like the Fire HD 8 model. Yes, even the Fire HD 10 comes in a Kids edition, with the rubber bumper and the 2-year guarantee.
Beyond tablets, we get to Amazon’s original bread and butter when it comes to physical products. The Amazon Kindle is the most popular e-reader. In the hand, it feels like a PADD from Star Trek. It’s very thin and light, making it ideal for reading. The battery life of the original Kindle was measured in weeks and months, rather than hours due to the E Ink display. The Kindle Paperwhite is measured in weeks. That being said, Kindle E-readers are ideal for one purpose – reading.
The Kindle Oasis is the largest Kindle offering. It boasts a seven-inch high-resolution display, built in Audible capability, and is the first waterproof Kindle to market. A single charge still lasts weeks on the Kindle Oasis. The Kindle fire is just 3.4mm thick and is very lightweight. If you are a big reader, this is the E-reader you want.
Smart home and security devices
Amazon has also been getting more and more into smart home and security devices. One of them is the Amazon Cloud Cam. The Cloud Cam captures video in 1080p Full HD, sends a notification when movement is detected and offers night vision. You can even buy a three pack for under $300.
The Cloud Cam offers 24 hours of recordings stored to the cloud for free. You can upgrade your plan for a monthly cost that allows you to store video for up to 30 days. All the footage is available via the cloud cam app. Each camera comes with a 10 ft MicroUSB cable that it uses for power. The Cloud Cam also offers compatibility with Amazon’s new feature – Amazon Key. This is a service that allows Amazon delivery people access to the inside of your home for packages that arrive while you are away.
In late 2017, Amazon bought the smart camera startup Blink and is now selling both the Blink Indoor Camera and the XT 1 outdoor smart security cameras. Both can be placed anywhere you want, and are triggered by motion sensors, so it can start recording HD video to a cloud server. The Blick XT 1 camera is waterproof and also includes infrared night vision. Both run wirelessly on batteries that are supposed to last up to two years. There’s no monthly subscription fee, and the cameras can be linked to the Echo Show or Spot so you can see the video on your smart speaker, or on your smartphone.
In early 2018, Amazon made a bigger smart device move when it acquired Ring, the company behind the popular smart doorbell. When installed, any of the Ring doorbell models allow you to see, hear and speak to anyone who approaches your door via your smartphone, tablet or PC. You can also view activity via your Echo Show or Spot smart speaker. It also uses motion sensors to record video and stores it in a cloud server. The cheapest of the Ring doorbells costs $100 and records 720p video, while the newer Ring Doorbell 2 costs $200 records in 1080 resolution, and adds a rechargeable battery pack.
Amazon also sells the Ring Doorbell Pro for $249, with more advanced motion detection hardware. Finally, there’s the Ring Doorbell Elite for $500, which can be connected to your Ethernet wired network for both connectivity and power.
If you want to place a Ring camera somewhere besides your home door, the Ring Stick Up Cam is for you. It can go wherever you want, both in indoor and outdoor areas, and be set up to record video when movement is detected. Amazon is selling a wired version of the Ring Stick Up Cam now, and a battery-based version will go on sale in December.
Amazon is also selling its own smart plug, which, when connected to your power wall outlet, can connect to your Alexa-based devices. You will be able to control connected lights and other smart devices by speaking to your Echo speaker through the smart plug with no smart hub needed. Best of all, it’s pretty cheap at just $25.
Finally, are you ready for a smart microwave? Amazon is selling this new microwave from its AmazonBasics line that not only connects to Echo speakers but has its own built-in Ask Alexa button. When you press it, you can ask the microwave to cook different kinds of food, but you won’t have to tell it a specific amount of time. The microwave can also understand comments like when you ask it to stop cooking or if you want to keep it going for a few minutes more. If you are signed up for the Amazon Dash service, you can reorder any food items you might need via the microwave and Amazon will automatically send them to you.
That that will do it for our roundup of Amazon tech you might like for the holidays. Is there anything you’d like from Amazon that we missed? Have you ever received any of these as a gift? Let us know, down in the comments!