December 10, 2019

Black Friday 2019: The best Alexa Gadgets, from microwaves to twerking bears

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Whether you picked up a new Echo device on Black Friday or Cyber Monday or anticipate buying one in the near future, Alexa Gadgets can enhance your Alexa experience in countless ways. Here’s a roundup of some of the best to date.

Amazon Alexa Echo Buttons

Amazon’s Echo Buttons are aptly named — they’re buttons that double as controllers for over 100 games and that power toggle smart home devices through compatible Echo speakers. (The Fire TV Cube, Fire TV, Fire-branded tablets, Echo Dot Kids Edition, and Amazon Tap aren’t currently supported.) With one Echo Button or several (up to four in total), you’re able to activate a Routine or customize a trivia game through Alexa Skill Blueprints, Amazon’s no-code service that enables the creation and publishing of custom voice apps.

Up to four Echo Buttons can be connected with compatible Echo devices using Bluetooth, and they can maintain a connection from up to 30 feet away. Each takes 2 AAA batteries and works with nearly every variant of Echo product, including the Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, and Echo Show.

Third Reality Smart Night-Light

Third Reality’s Smart Night-Light is a night light, as the name implies — an LED-sporting and USB-powered night light, to be exact. It’s made specifically (and exclusively) for the Echo Flex, a diminutive Echo speaker that’s designed to plug into wall outlets, and it boasts a built-in sensor that automatically switches the light on when it’s dark.

The dimmable six-LED array — which reaches a maximum brightness of 20 lumens — can cycle among a spectrum of colors, and the setup mode automatically pairs the Night-Light with Alexa the minute it’s plugged in. Predictably, the Night-Light supports the full range of Alexa commands (e.g., “Alexa, change My Night-Light’s brightness to 20%” or “Alexa, change the My Night-Light to magenta”), which can be incorporated into Routines that dictate when the light switches on.

Gemmy Twerking Christmas Bear Plush

Alexa twerk

Suffering from a distinct lack of twerking during the holiday season? Consider welcoming Gemmy’s Twerking Christmas Bear into your device family. The festive plush who loves to boogie lip-syncs with Alexa spoken responses and reacts to timers, alarms, reminders, and notifications. It dances along to music played through Amazon Music (but not third-party services like Spotify), and it perks up when you say the word “Alexa.”

Like Echo Buttons, the Twerking Christmas Bear isn’t compatible with Fire TV Cube, Fire TV, Fire-branded tablets, Echo Dot Kids Edition, and Amazon Tap devices. However, it works with  Echo products including the Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, and Echo Show.

Big Mouth Billy Bass

Big Mouth Billy Bass Alexa

Gemmy’s Alexa-powered Big Mouth Billy Bass launched to much fanfare late last year, perhaps because it was a long time coming. A retrofitted Billy Bass that tapped Amazon’s Alexa Voice Services API emerged online in 2016, a year after which the official product was announced. And those developments came over 16 years after the original Billy Bass’ debut in 1999, which enthusiastically warbled tunes like Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

The new and ostensibly improved Big Mouth Billy Bass dances to an original song — “Fishin’ Time” — out of the box, in addition to any song played through Amazon Music (and only Alexa Music). It lip-syncs along with Alexa responses such as weather and random facts (but not while dancing), and it swishes its tail when a timer, alarm, reminder, or notification event is triggered.

The Alexa-enabled Billy Bass works with most Echo product models, including the Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, and Echo Show.