A ghostly presence has been swirling around CES 2017 and possessing every gadget in its path.
No, it’s not the tortured soul of Michael Bay reliving his autocue fail of CES 2014, but Amazon’s near-omnipotent voice assistant Alexa.
Despite not having an official presence at the show, Alexa has been one of its stars. Dozens of new gadgets have crowed about having the voice assistant built in. And many more have flaunted their compatibility with the service via new Skills, for those already own an Echo or Echo Dot.
Of course, not all of them are humdingers (unless you've really been hankering after a smart air purifier), so here’s our pick of the most exciting new bits of Alexa-tech...
The ones with built-in Alexa
LG Hub Robot
We like our Amazon Echo but, let’s be honest, it’s a bit lacking in the face department. That’s not the case with LG Hub though, which likes to spend its spare time in theatres playing Eve from Wall-E.
Thanks to Alexa integration, it can do the usual voice-controlled tasks like finding out the weather or streaming your music, even nodding its head along to your selection.
If you happen to also have a house full of smart appliances, it also promises to help pre-heat the oven and order your robot vacuum around when you’re out. Unfortunately, it can’t yet answer the burning question of when and where it’ll be available, with LG so far only confirming that it will be released in 2017.
Lenovo Smart Assistant
Clearly bored of the Echo’s monochrome wardrobe, Alexa has made the leap into a slightly more colourful cylinder known as the Lenovo Smart Assistant.
With exactly the same voice-controlled abilities as the Echo, the main difference comes with the design and, thanks to a special Harmon Kardon edition that’s priced at $50 (RM225) more, the promise of better sound quality.
Sadly, UK gadget fans will have to carry on pretending to talk to their ‘smart’ Doritos can, as Lenovo says it has no plans to release it in the UK. But it will be heading to US stores in Spring 2017 priced from $130 (RM585). We've yet to receive news on whether it'll hit Malaysian shores but we'll let you know as soon as we find out!
C by GE lamp
We’re not saying Alexa has delusions of grandeur, but it has just built itself into a glowing halo ring. Still, we’ll forgive it the angelic symbolism, because the C by GE lamp is by far the prettiest voice assistant we’ve seen so far.
Because it has Amazon’s voice assistant built in, the lamp does far more than turn on and off at your command – it acts more like a physical version of the Echo’s glowing circle, with blue light circling around it whenever it’s prompted by a request for a news flash or an addition to your shopping list.
Sadly, the C by GE lamp will only be available for pre-order for US-dwelling Alexa fans in early 2017, ahead of its expected arrival in mid-2017. GE hasn’t ruled out a launch in other countries, though, as long as we remember to keep praying for our voice-controlled halo.