Amazon Glow is a $ 300 video chat device for kids


A photo of a child sitting at a desk and talking to someone above the Amazon Glow

Amazon Glow lets kids interact with their favorites in real time.
Picture: Amazon

In his never-final quest to bring whole families into its ecosystem, Amazon has announcement a new smart speaker /video chat device called Glow. It is intended for children to video chat with others using Alexa-enabled devices in a controlled environment. Amazon says it is “reinventing the way kids can connect with family and friends from a distance.”

Amazon Glow — not to be confused with Echo Glow, a smart lamp for kids—packs a vertical smartphone display in a giant speaker case that looks like a comically large ‘90s-era cell phone. It has an 8-inch LCD screen, and it projects a touch-sensitive area that’s about 19 inches across. Kids can share their “virtual space” in real-time using the Amazon Glow app. Folks on the other end can use Alexa on an Android or iOS device, and Amazon will bring Fire OS compatibility soon.

Each Amazon Glow device comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, unlocking Glow’s many games and apps. The app includes “hundreds of hours” of interactive activities, including object scanning, so kids can make virtual stickers to send out or even completing a jigsaw puzzle with Grammy on the other line. Kids can also read along with an adult, play a simple chess game or Go Fish, and draw along with someone else.

Amazon said it collaborated with Disney, Mattel, Nickelodeon, and Sesame Workshop to make interactive content for Glow. It’s opening up development to a “limited set of partners” in the first half of next year to create more content for the Glow platform. It will also be selling Glow Bits learning kits for unlocking additional content. The first Bits kit is a Tangram puzzle game, and it comes bundled with the purchase of Glow.

A photo of the Amazon Glow and a play mat below it where it can project

The Amazon Glow works with sold-separately Glow Bits.
Image: Amazon

Of course, the biggest question top of mind for parents is what the parental controls are like. Like on the Echo Show devices, parents can set up the Glow so that kids can only call contacts that parents have approved beforehand. There’s also a privacy shutter on the camera, and a hardware mute button to shut off the microphone. The Glow isn’t Alexa-enabled, so Amazon says it doesn’t collect voice recordings.

Amazon Glow appears to extract some child-centric abilities available in similar devices like Facebook Portal, which has Alexa built in. In addition to enabling video chat, your kid and someone else can read through a virtual book together using Story Time. However, the parental control on the Facebook portal are limited and the device has access to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger when unlocked.

Amazon Glow also incorporates some additional features of tablets such as the iPad. You can purchase a third-party accessory like the Osmo projector to live a similar experience of the physical-virtual world of learning and play.

If you would like to experience the device, you can request an invitation to be part of the Glow Early Access program. The Glow is currently available for an introductory price of $ 250, although it will cost $ 300. Glow also comes with a mat and mat case, as well as a two-year warranty. Amazon says that if it breaks, you can return it and it will replace it for free.

We’ll have to test the Glow to verify its privacy claims and see how it compares to Portal (and FaceTime on an iPad) for connecting kids and family. Stay tuned for a full review.

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