Alexa on Steroids? Or can Amazon’s Smart Robot Astro Really Secure Your Home?

9/29/21

Jaime Fraze


Yesterday, Amazon announced the latest on their new lineup of cutting-edge smart home tech that you won’t want to miss.

New products include Blink Video Doorbell and floodlight cameras, a virtual security guard service from Ring, the Ring Jobsite security kit, the Ring Always Home drone cam, an Amazon smart thermostat, and a smart household robot named Astro (and yes, the Jetson’s reference was intentional).

Here’s what’s in store…

Ring Always Home Cam

Ring Always Home Cam (Photo: Ring/Amazon)

Ring Always Home Cam (Photo: Ring/Amazon)

Ring’s Always Home camera was released on Sept. 28, but with a catch: it’s only available on an invite-only basis, which basically means you can request an invitation to pre-order it. The Always Home Cam is expected to ship later in 2021, according to Amazon, Ring’s parent company.

Drone cameras, typically reserved for special occasions like weddings, festivals, parties, and sporting events, can now be part of your home security setup. Ring’s Always Home Cam, priced at $249.99, is an autonomous indoor camera that flies along a predetermined path (created by you, the user) to check in on your home. If someone forgot to turn off the oven or left a window open, the Always Home Cam can alert you, wherever you are, via Ring’s mobile app. That app, by the way, is the same app we use to control the rest of Ring’s devices, like the Ring Alarm.

Ring Virtual Security Guard

Amazon also announced the release of their Virtual Security Guard, a new subscription service that taps into third-party monitoring center Rapid Response to keep tabs on Ring users’ outdoor security cameras, including Ring Video Doorbells. With this service, you can select which Ring cameras you want monitored and customize how you’d like to be notified if danger is detected. If you choose, it can tap into your camera’s two-way talk functionality and communicate with potential intruders, similar to what we’ve seen in Deep Sentinel. You can also give the monitoring center permission to sound the siren and dispatch emergency services.

A Ring professional monitoring plan is required to access Virtual Security Guard, which costs $99 per month on top of a $20 monthly Ring Protect Plus subscription.

Like Ring’s Always Home Cam, the Virtual Security Guard is currently available by invitation only for test users.

Ring Jobsite Security

Ring Jobsite Security Kit (Photo: Ring)

Ring Jobsite Security Kit (Photo: Ring)

Through a collaboration with the Home Depot, Ring now offers Jobsite Security kits that, paired with a new Ring Alarm Pro security package and with a Ring Protect Pro subscription, provide cellular connectivity to secure your job site. Contractors and jobsite managers can add more devices, like the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery and Ring motion sensors, to keep their construction sites secure and protected. From what we’ve seen, this is a first in the industry.

Ring’s Jobsite Security Kit is available for pre-orders as a 5-piece package for $399.99.

Blink Video Doorbell and Floodlight cameras

Blink is expanding its line of affordable, easy-to-use security cameras with a new doorbell camera and floodlight camera.

Blink Video Doorbell can be installed wired or wire-free, with a battery that lasts up to two years. Blink’s doorbell includes all the features folks are typically looking for in a doorbell camera: 1080p HD day and night video, two-way audio, chime app alerts, and smartphone control via the Blink mobile app.

Blink Video Doorbell (Photo: Blink/Amazon)

Blink Video Doorbell (Photo: Blink/Amazon)

The doorbell costs only $49.99, a mere fraction of the cost of the best doorbell cameras in the industry – but coming from a brand like Blink, we’ve come to expect good quality despite low prices.

FYI: If you’re interested in learning more about Blink, visit our in-depth reviews of Blink cameras.

Blink’s floodlight device is a battery-powered, motion-triggered, 700-lumen LED mount attached to a Blink Outdoor camera. The Blink Floodlight Camera mount costs $39.99, and you can get a Blink Floodlight Camera bundle with Blink Outdoor starting at $139.98. The Blink Solar Panel Mount bundled with Blink Outdoor costs $129.98. All three Blink packages are available for pre-order.

Note that Blink’s Floodlight Cam, while more affordable, doesn’t hold a candle to the Ring Floodlight Cam, which boasts 1800 lumens, dual lights, all in a wired design so you’ll never have to bother with batteries. Read more about it in our Ring Floodlight Cam review.

Amazon Smart Thermostat

Amazon Smart Thermostat (Photo: Amazon)

Amazon Smart Thermostat (Photo: Amazon)

The new Amazon Smart Thermostat is a basic, affordable device that aims to help you lower energy costs. To develop the device, Amazon partnered with Resideo, which designs and manufactures thermostats and other gadgets for Honeywell.

For $60, you get a device that’s not as sophisticated as a Nest thermostat, an industry leader, but one that’s much cheaper than Nest’s version, which starts at $149.99. It’s in the pre-order stage for now, with shipping expected to start in early November.

Astro Home Robot

Astro Home Robot (Photo: Amazon)

Astro Home Robot (Photo: Amazon)

Amazon’s first-ever autonomous robot, Astro, is designed to help you manage all of your family’s most essential tasks, from home automation and monitoring to keeping in touch with family. When you’re away, the Alexa-enabled Astro can move autonomously around your home, navigate to check in on specific areas, show you a live view of rooms through the Astro app, or even send alerts if it detects an unrecognized person.

Right now, Amazon prices Astro at $1,449.99, but it’s available for an introductory price of $999.99 by invitation only. Amazon plans to start shipping orders later this year.

Final Thoughts

From an autonomous robot to a $50 doorbell camera, Amazon’s offerings for 2021 are plentiful. They also reflect Amazon’s new focus on proprietary gadgets that can reduce your environmental footprint, help you keep your health on track, and keep your home and neighborhood safe. Check back here for more developments on when you can get your hands on the new Ring Always Home Cam, the Amazon Astro home robot, and the Amazon smart thermostat.