Amazon Has A Solid Approach To Digital Wellbeing With Its New Halo And Kindle Devices

By Patrick Moorhead - October 20, 2022

Last week was packed full of announcements and events from NetSuite, Intel, Atom, and Amazon. Although I could not attend every event like Amazon’s, as there is only one of me, I still want to cover some of what Amazon announced at its gadgets event. 

I want to cover Amazon’s Scribe, and Hole devices which put a focus on distraction-free ecosystems and intelligent digital wellbeing, with the Scribe being the first Kindle Amazon has released in quite some time. Let’s take a look at how what Amazon Announced.

The Amazon Kindle Scribe

I want to preface my coverage of the Amazon Scribe with some context of how I take notes. I have used a keyboard and take notes digitally for a couple of decades, with OneNote as my preferred software tool. Although most of the people in my generation X probably prefer pen and paper, it is not my forte. However, it’s not about the tool that gets you to your goals, but the goal itself. 

The Amazon Scribe is just that, Amazon’s tool for those who prefer a pen and paper feel within the digital context. I believe it excels over its tablet and pen counterpart with the closed and distraction-free Kindle ecosystem. 

The Kindle is looked at by some as a slow, clunky tablet with low minimal features and minimal connectivity. While most of these characteristics sound negative, they are definitely positives for many people. I believe many OEMs forget to acknowledge that mobile devices are tools for getting things done. Whether trying to be productive in taking notes or trying to whine down and watch a show, the tablet is the tool, not the distraction.

That is why Kindles make great reading devices. I love my Kindle. Reading is a task that requires a distraction-free ecosystem. What is another task that often requires a distraction-free ecosystem? Writing. I believe Amazon’s play to have a Kindle with journal capabilities within its ecosystem is awesome, especially when you consider how many people take notes and highlight on a book.

The Kindle Scribe with e-ink pen.AMAZON

One of the difficulties of having a kindle with pen support is that e-ink display technology has a low refresh rate. The Kindle Scribe has a Wacom 

Amazon took the pen a step further with an e-ink tablet with its functionality in the Kindle ecosystem. It is challenging keeping the distraction-free ecosystem while also wanting to include helpful and productive features. I believe Amazon has done a great job of including helpful features while maintaining its distraction-free ecosystem. The specific feature I am thinking of is the ability to send documents like Word documents or PDFs directly from a computer or phone to the Kindle Scribe. 

The Kindle Scribe starts at $339 for the 16GB model, $389 for the 32GB model, and $429GB for the 64Gb model. Amazon has priced the Kindle Scribe better than other e-ink tablets with pen support. The 16GB is a higher storage option than something like the ReMarkable 2 e-ink pen tablet. At first, I was concerned with the low amount of storage, but for a tablet that will only have books and documents, I am not too worried about it. If you are someone that will put thousands of Word and PDF documents for annotation, I would recommend the higher storage options. 

The Amazon Halo Rise

Amazon also announced the Halo Rise, its new nightstand sleep tracker that addresses sleep tracking uniquely. Most modern-day sleep tracking is done through either wearable or through an app that monitors movement with a microphone. For example, I use my Apple Watch and Oura Ring to track my sleep, but if I forget to charge my Apple watch during the day, I am unable to track my sleep.

Amazon Halo Rise pulls from Amazon’s focus on ambient intelligence by putting ambient sleep tracking in the Halo Rise. The Halo Rise uses machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to track your movement and sleep without the need for cameras or microphones. It can detect when you are trying to sleep, and even when you are sleeping next to another person, it knows only to detect you. Amazon focused on keeping user data private by not having microphones or cameras and built multiple layers of privacy and security.

One of my favorite features of the Amazon Halo Rise is its wake light which sets off a warmly toned light. The Halo Rise has a clock and a semi-circle LED wake-up light. In my opinion, in looks nice enough to fit in with other nightstand décor. It also does not look large and obtrusive. The Halo Rise also pairs into the Alexa ecosystem so users can implement it into night routines and commands for morning and nighttime rituals. It also has a small speaker for alarms. I would be interested to see if the Halo Rise is able to play white noise with its small speaker.

The Halo Rise. AMAZON

The Halo Rise would be less useful for me as someone who travels over 30 weeks out of the year. However, I believe Amazon’s sleep tracking approach is novel, with a lot of appeal to privacy and ambiance. There is little you have to do to track your sleep. The Halo Rise does it all, and I do not think there is another device out there that does sleep tracking like the Halo Rise. For days when I am traveling, I will stick to my smartwatch, but for days when I am at home, I could easily see this as part of my nighttime and morning rituals.

I will have to use Halo Rise to give a more complete picture of the experience.

Wrapping up

The world we live in is full of countless distractions, and our digital world does more harm than good. I believe the Kindle Scribe is set up to provide a distraction-free ecosystem for those who prefer a digital pen and paper. Amazon has done a great job of including productive features while maintaining a distraction-free experience. 

Likewise, the Amazon Halo Rise builds on Amazon’s ambient, digital wellbeing ecosystem with a very appealing sleep tracker. I like how Amazon has built it with security and privacy in mind. Amazon’s novel approach to sleep tracking should be very attractive to people who spend less than 30 weeks out of the year on the road like me. If Amazon ever came out with a travel version of the Halo Rise, I would be all over it. I will be interested to see the data Amazon gathers from the device to see how it is ultimately monetized. I can see recommendations on all things sleep we can all buy from Amazon. 

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.