Alexa Powers Nucleus Anywhere Intercom

There’s an intriguing new Alexa powered device on Amazon. This one isn’t from Amazon, but instead is from a start-up, named Nucleus. That’s similar to Triby, another Alexa device by Invoxia.

So what’s a Nucleus Anywhere Intercom? Quick and dirty, it’s intercom/video calling hardware powered by Alexa. Here’s their video pitch:

That video should give you an idea that this is geared towards families and bringing people closer.

What are the specs? It’s essentially an 8-inch tablet with a wide-angle 5 megapixel camera. It has speakers and a microphone naturally. It has Ethernet and WiFi for internet connectivity. It requires an outlet or Power over Ethernet (PoE), so if wireless and mobility is your thing, you might be disappointed. A single unit is $249, but a pair can be bought for ~$200 each. You’ll likely want a pair too, because the sound of one intercom calling is a little like the sound of one hand clapping.

Nucleus Anywhere
Nucleus Anywhere

So where does Alexa fit in? In some ways it seems like an afterthought. You can press an Alexa button and use some (maybe even most?) of the Alexa services. However, it can’t play Pandora like the Echo.

And notice that you seem to have to press a button… you can’t just call out, “Alexa, call Grandma.” Granted that might get annoying, it was the first thing I thought of when I heard of an Alexa-powered intercom/video phone.

That might be a pessimistic view of what Alexa can do. You can still ask it to play certain artists/albums/songs, what the weather is, read the news, etc. So it feels a little like an Echo light, but with the big advantage of video calling.

There’s a lot of good things here and I’m tempted to buy in. However, there are a few things that are stopping me:

  • Price – For 3 rooms and 2 grandmother’s houses, it’s a thousand dollar purchase. Is a dedicated Skype device worth that? Amazon has been able to sell Fire tablets at around $40 a piece. I’m not saying these should get that low, but the tablets arguable have more functionality and an extra component or two (such as a battery).
  • Closed System – I couldn’t find out if I can use it to Skype with friends (and since it isn’t Apple, I’m sure it can’t Facetime). I’m more interested in the easy videophone aspect than the intercom aspect, but your family may be different.
  • Redundant – If you are already an Alexa fan such as myself, you probably have an Echo and a Dot or two.
  • Mobility – Even if the battery life was bad, it would be nice to take the call with you. What if the cat is doing something really cute in another room and you want to show grandma? You can’t.

I think I’ve been a little overcritical of the Nucleus Anywhere. Let me take a step back and realize that this is the first device from a start-up company. I can’t think of a version 1.0 that was perfect. I’m looking forward to seeing the next version.

I’m probably one of the frugal tech enthusiasts out there, so I don’t think I’d take a flyer on this unless it gets to the $99 range.

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