What’s the story?
The Amazon Echo Frames were breezed past fairly swiftly at Amazon’s September launch event (check out our Amazon September event live blog for all the details), but with so much new stuff announced, it’s hardly a surprise. Nevertheless, this new generation of Amazon’s audio glasses looks pretty good.
For those not in the know, the Echo Frames are an Amazon Echo device, just like the best Alexa speakers, disguised in a pair of glasses. These smart, prescription-friendly glasses offer hands-free, open-ear audio with calls and Alexa functionality built-in.
Originally debuting in 2019, the latest version of Echo Frames starts from $269.99 in the US, with UK and AU pricing TBC. Neither the presentation nor the official press release mentioned a potential release date.
What do I need to know about it?
For starters, it’s better. The redesigned Echo Frames have boosted battery life, offering “up to six hours of continuous media playback or talk time on a full charge”. That’s a far cry from the previous model, which offered two hours of calls and four hours of listening.
Revamped speakers deliver three times more bass than the previous gen, and more accurately deliver sound to the ear, minimizing noise leakage and offering “up to ten times” better recognition in loud or windy environments. It’s all hands-free, of course: just ask Alexa to switch up your playlist or make a call to your contacts.
It helps that they look good, too, as no one’s going to want to walk around with a pair of glasses that look very obviously tech-heavy. Five new styles are available including sunglass, prescription-ready (perfect for existing glasses wearers, like me), or blue light lens options. The glasses’ arms are 15% slimmer, and premium eyewear brand Carrera is getting in on the act with two unique Alexa-enabled frame designs, ensuring the line remains fashion-forward.
What do we think of it?
Echo Frames have never really caught on, despite the ubiquity and usefulness of smart assistants like Alexa in the home. Most phones and earbuds already have virtual assistants enabled, making the frames a little redundant, especially at a premium price.
However, open-ear audio is coming on in leaps and bounds in the headphones world. With air-conduction workout headphones such as Shokz OpenFit popping up all over the place, the time may be right for Amazon to be able to minimize ambient audio leakage from those frame-side speakers and deliver a really useful, stylish product.
Stylish is the key here. Wearable tech is slowly becoming fashion-forward, but it’s still very much in the trial-and-error stage, with concepts like the Honor V Purse being experimented with by brands. At first glance, the new Echo Frames genuinely look pretty good, and partnerships with fashion brands like Carrera might encourage more people to make the jump.
We’ve not been given many details other than a starting price point – no specs, and no release date – so it’s impossible to say how much the high-end Carrera specs will cost.