Let’s start with saying that not everyone will be able to get this amazing robot just yet. It’s part of Amazon’s “Day 1 Editions” and you’ll have to request an invitation if you are interested.
The introductory price of $999.99 (going to $1,499.99 in full release) is a bit steep for what is basically a 10-inch echo smart display on wheels. We expect that as this goes into full production, the prices will drop dramatically while the usability increases.
Pricing aside, Amazon’s first attempt at general purpose home robotics is pretty good. The bot is about 2-feet tall and weighs around 20 pounds. The two rubberized, 12-inch wheels allow it to navigate most floorings including carpets; it can also get over small changes in thresholds. There is a third non-motorized castor wheel in the back for stability.
What it can’t do is navigate steps – so it’s best for single level apartments and homes.
One cool feature is the periscope camera. This is a secondary 12 MP camera that Astro can raise to 42-inches, providing a good view of the surroundings.
This is particularly useful if you are using Astro as part of your home security monitoring. The on-board microphone can detect glass breaks or smoke alarms – similar features to what you’ll find on a standard Echo Show device.
Other neat novelties include a payload tray so you can have your bot deliver snacks from the kitchen to your kids in another room. Although Astro doesn’t have it’s own arms, so you’ll still need to be there to get the sodas from the fridge.
Probably one of the most entertaining features is having your music follow you around the house. The bot has two forward facing 2-inch speakers, and a passive bass radiator aimed at the floor. You can really get some good volume out, and it’ll always be positioned just right for your enjoyment.
There’s a lot more to this newest addition to the Alexa line-up. We’ll be going more in-depth on the features and capabilities after we’ve had a chance to experiment with Astro in a real-world setting for a few weeks.
If you’re interested in this gadget, definitely request an invitation (and answer a few questions about your physical space to see if Astro would be a good fit) and have fun!