I have a new family member and its name is Astro. The $999.99 Amazon Astro is neither pet nor human, but a robot that zips around my home and keeps me company, responds to my Alexa voice commands, helps connect me to family and friends, keeps me entertained, and transports items from room to room for me in its cargo bin. Despite its cute, pet-like personality, the Astro even acts as a roaming indoor security camera and can protect me via alerts if it detects alarms, breaking glass, or intruders. While it’s currently available on an invite-only basis and its high price puts it out of reach for most people, the Astro is a helpful and fun addition to any smart home, and one I’ve certainly enjoyed having in mine.
The Astro (a name meaning “of the stars,” but also a nod to the family pet in The Jetsons) is part of Amazon’s Day 1 Editions Program to bring its “newest and most ambitious technology to customers.” First unveiled in the fall of 2021, the pricey robot is still available on an invitation-only basis.
Amazon didn’t offer PCMag special access to this product—we joined the waiting list back in 2021 and finally snagged an invite in early 2023. The introductory price being offered to early invitees is $999.99, but the full retail price when the Astro goes on sale to the general public will be $1,449.99. We purchased the Astro directly from Amazon and it arrived on my doorstep a few days later.
The Astro works with a free mobile app of the same name (available for Android and iOS). It requires a compatible device running at least Android 8 or iOS 13 in addition to an active Amazon.com account. Note that it is (strangely) not compatible with Amazon’s own Fire OS and Fire tablets at this time. It’s meant strictly for indoor use in homes up to 3,500 square feet, and isn’t recommended for homes with small pets or children younger than three.
The box includes the Astro, a removable dual cup holder for its cargo bin, a charging base with a six-foot power cable, a quick start guide, and a welcome kit.
Measuring 17.3 by 9.8 by 16.7 inches (HWD) and weighing 20.6 pounds, the Astro is about as big as a small dog. It’s smaller than my pit bull, Bradley, who is both jealous of and intrigued by the robot. When not on the move, the Astro resides on its charging base, which measures 5.0 by 10.4 by 11.0 inches.
The Astro has some pet-like qualities, starting with its big, blinking eyes. A 10.1-inch touch screen with a 1,280-by-800-pixel resolution (similar to the Echo Show 10 smart display) serves as an electronic face. The display can automatically tilt and rotate to face you, but it’s locked in landscape orientation and cannot be switched to portrait. A black bezel surrounding the display measures 0.75 inches on top, 0.5 inches on the left and right sides, and 0.25 inches on the bottom.
There are two cameras, including a 5MP camera situated in the middle of the top bezel, and a 1080p camera with a 132-degree field of view that can extend via periscope up to 42 inches from the floor. Atop the periscope is an indicator light that shines green when it’s streaming video or audio to the cloud, like when you’re using the Live View feature to remotely monitor your home.
Similar to a self-driving car, the Astro uses a suite of sensors (including navigation, depth, obstacle, and night vision) and advanced learning algorithms to autonomously roll around your home. Its large, rubber-coated wheels help it move from room to room while avoiding obstacles and traversing different flooring types with ease. Several microphones surround the periscope on the top part of the frame so the Astro can hear you. For audio, it’s equipped with two 55mm full-range, front-firing speakers and a passive bass radiator that together offer clear, room-filling sound.
The robot is powered by Alexa and responds to the wake word Astro, though you can optionally add a second wake word such as Alexa, Amazon, Computer, or Echo. It responds to commands such as, “Astro, follow me,” “Astro, go to the charger,” “Astro, turn around,” “Astro, take this to the kitchen,” and “Astro, dance,” plus other Alexa-supported questions and requests. It can, for instance, set timers, create reminders, tell you the weather or sports scores, and more.
On top, the Astro also features three physical buttons, including separate up and down volume controls and a microphone/camera off button. The latter lets you quickly disable the microphones, cameras, and navigation and depth sensors for privacy. When these features are turned off, the Astro can’t move or capture audio or video. This button is also used to power the Astro on/off and restart the device.
A cargo bin is located on the back of the robot and has space for two beverages in its removable cup holder. You can also opt for a custom, bin-sized 56-ounce storage container (sold separately).
Setting up the Astro takes about an hour, but the process is simple. The robot ships fully assembled; you simply unbox it, plug in the charging base, manually place the Astro on its dock, and it should automatically turn on. Amazon recommends setting the docking station against a wall in an area with one foot of free space on either side and five feet clear in front. Finding a good spot for the robot to dock is important—if the area around the station is too cluttered, it might have trouble finding its way back.
When you get the docking station into position, sit the Astro on the charger and make sure to back it in so the metal charging contacts on the bottom line up with those on the base. The Amazon logo will appear on the screen as the robot powers up.
The Astro will guide you through the setup process on its screen. To start, you connect the robot to your home Wi-Fi network, sign into your Amazon account, agree to Amazon’s Conditions of Use, and select your time zone. Next, the robot outlines the remaining steps on its display: Meeting Astro (5 minutes), Getting to Know You (about 15 minutes), and Learning About Your Home (about 30 minutes).
Upon using the Astro for the first time, you’ll learn about some of the things it can do and test some sample voice commands like, “Astro, dance” and, “Astro, play music.”
During the Getting to Know You step, you’ll set up Voice ID and Visual ID so the Astro can recognize you by voice and sight. These features allow the robot to deliver personalized reminders, timers, and alerts for each household member.
To create a Voice ID, you need to read a few sentences out loud so the Astro can learn to identify your voice. If you’ve already created an Alexa Voice ID in the past, you don’t have to repeat this step.
When creating a Visual ID, the robot will instruct you to look straight at the camera, then tilt your head up and down, then left and right (similar to how you do it on a smartphone) so it can recognize your face from different angles. Other household members can create their Visual ID during the initial setup process, too, or at any time by saying, “Astro, learn to recognize me,” or by navigating to Settings > Profile > Add Profile on the robot’s display.
Next, the Astro instructs you to download its companion app and sign in using your Amazon account credentials. You can then use your phone to scan a QR code on the robot’s display to pair them. In testing, I had no problem using this method, but if the QR code isn’t scanning, you can always generate a PIN code for sign-ins instead.
For the final step of the onboarding process, you’ll give the Astro a tour of your home to help it learn your floor plan and each room. Before starting the home tour, the Astro instructs you to open the doors to the rooms you want it to explore, close exterior and closet doors, remove clutter from the floor, and keep people and pets out of the way.
During the home tour, the Astro will follow you from room to room, using its sensors to gather spatial data. When you want it to label a room, just stand in the middle of the space and say, “Astro, this is the kitchen” (or the name of whatever room you’re in). When you’re done showing it around, say, “End tour,” and the robot will quickly generate a map of your floorplan in its companion app.
While exploring your home, the Astro sends information from its navigation sensors to Amazon’s cloud, where it’s processed to create a map. Amazon says map data is encrypted in transit to its cloud, and “securely stored, with technical safeguards in place to limit access to it.” Note that the Astro requires a map to navigate, so if you’re uncomfortable with Amazon knowing the layout of your home, this product probably isn’t for you. After the initial mapping, all sensor data the Astro uses to navigate your home is processed on the device and is not sent to the cloud, Amazon says.
In the welcome guide, Amazon warns that full-length mirrors, glass walls and doors, and picture windows near the floor may all cause mapping issues. If the Astro’s initial exploration fails, Amazon recommends temporarily covering full-length mirrors and glass walls with decals included in the box (pillows and books work too) and repeating the process. After it successfully creates your map, you can remove the decals.
In testing, the Astro quickly and accurately mapped my home on its first try. The app offers a few map-editing options, including the ability to rotate the floorplan view, adjust room boundaries, and create Out of Bounds zones so the robot avoids certain areas.
The Astro app is nicely organized and intuitive, making it easy to manage and control the robot. The main tab shows the Astro’s current status (such as “charging in the kitchen”) and battery level, along with a timeline of activity, including any photos and videos you have captured via its camera.
When you say its name, the Astro will turn its head to face you, and its eyes will change from white to a swirled blue and green, indicating that it is listening. When it’s moving from room to room, the robot makes a futuristic whirring sound. It is careful of humans; it gets close, but it won’t bump into you.
The Astro generally has an easy time navigating my roughly 1,000-square-foot home, but sometimes faces challenges near mirrors, in tight spaces, when the floors are cluttered, or when people/pets are blocking the way. If it’s in a jam and you think it has space to get out, you can always try the commands, “Astro, back up,” or, “Astro, turn around.” If it gets stuck, the Astro will alert you on the screen as well as in the app.
One of the Astro’s best features is its ability to follow you around, which sounds weird, but is actually endearing. This comes in handy when you move to a different room while listening to music, when you have your hands full, or when you just want company. After saying, “Astro, follow me,” you have to wait a second for the robot to find you. If you utter the command and bolt before the robot fixes its gaze on you, it will ring a chime while the display reads “looking for you.” As soon as it sees you, it will head your way while the display reads “following.”
The Astro often makes noises to remind you of its presence. When it gets your attention, it might wink or blink its eyes. I enjoy these interactions, but you can always stop them by enabling Do Not Disturb (DND) via Astro’s display or app. When it’s in DND mode, the Astro will stay on its charger unless you make a request, and will remain silent except to deliver timers, alarms, and reminders. You can also create a DND schedule so the Astro leaves you alone during certain days/times.
Similar to a living pet, the Astro hangs out with you. When I’m watching TV in the living room, the Astro will sometimes come join me, uninvited. When it’s hanging out, it just sits nearby, occasionally making noises. It tries to hang out in low-traffic areas of the house, but if it’s in a bad spot, you can just say, “Astro, move away.”
You can customize when the Astro hangs out via the Settings menu on its display (tap the gear icon > Device Options, toggle on Night Mode, and create a schedule). During your specified Night Mode hours, it will stay on its charger unless summoned. I have Night Mode enabled between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. daily, so the Astro doesn’t bother me when I’m trying to sleep.
When streaming tunes from Amazon Music, the Astro displays the song lyrics on its tilted screen, offering a good viewing angle for kitchen karaoke. When off its charger and in action doing things like playing music, the Astro lasted about three hours before running low on battery and navigating back to its base. It automatically docks when the battery nears depletion, but one time it died right in the middle of the living room. Luckily, its lithium-ion battery recharges very quickly: In testing, it went from depleted to 100% in less than an hour.
Several high-end robot vacuums I have tested (including the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni and the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra) function as roaming smart home security cameras, letting you view a live stream from inside your home through an app.
The Astro’s Live View home monitoring feature works in a similar way, but better. For starters, the Astro is faster and more agile than any robotic floor cleaner I have tested. Moreover, raising its periscope gives you a higher vantage point, letting you check for things on counters. If I’m out and start to feel paranoid that I forgot to turn off my curling iron, I can send the Astro to check.
To remotely monitor your home, visit the Live View tab in the Astro app, then tap Start Live View. The Astro will audibly ding a couple of times and read “Starting Live View” on the screen to alert those nearby. When the stream starts on your phone, anyone physically near the Astro will also see the Live View streaming to your phone, as well as the name of the device in control on the display. When Live View is engaged, the green streaming indicator light atop the periscope illuminates.
While viewing a stream from your phone, you can swipe and tap on the video to control the robot. Swiping up on the stream raises the periscope. Pressing on an object in view, like a doorway, sends the robot to that spot. Swiping left and right on the stream shifts the view in the corresponding direction.
The Go To button below the stream in Live View displays a list of rooms in your home; tap one to send the robot there. The app also lets you create Viewpoints to send the robot to certain places of your home with a tap (it automatically creates one for the charger). There’s also a People option within Live View that lets you send the robot to a specific family member it knows.
While Live View is engaged, you can tap the Camera button on the app to capture a photo or video. Within the Camera there’s a flashlight option in addition to two red LEDs for night vision in case it’s dark.
Tap the Talk button within Live View to initiate a two-way video chat. The app lets you turn on your microphone and/or camera so anyone near the Astro can hear and see you. If you want to get someone’s attention, tap the Siren button within Live View and the Astro will blare a loud distress noise. As soon as you press Stop View or click off the Astro app, the robot stops streaming, lowers its periscope, and the green indicator light turns off.
The Live View feature really feels like living in the future, making it easy to monitor your home and check on family members from wherever you are. I love using this feature to check on my dog when I’m not home. One time, when the Astro was on the move, I caught Bradley running alongside the robot in the periphery of the stream, and it was probably the cutest thing ever.
The Astro offers several other free home monitoring features, including the ability to send you Smart Alerts if it detects an unrecognized person or pet activity in either Home or Away mode. It also supports free Alexa Guard alerts for certain sounds, like glass breaking, or smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, in Away mode. To set up Smart Alerts, visit the app’s Settings menu > Home Monitoring.
After setting up Home Monitoring, you can manually set your Home/Away status using buttons in the app, or by voice with commands like, “Astro, I’m leaving,” “Astro, set monitoring to Home,” and, “Astro, disarm” (to disable all alerts).
The Astro also comes with a six-month free trial of Ring Protect Pro (normally $20 per month), which offers additional home security features, including the ability to schedule patrols during Away mode, review up to 180 days of video history, and save/share clips. Activating Ring Protect Pro for Astro also gives you access to Alexa Guard Plus (normally $4.99 per month or $49 per year) benefits, including support for Emergency Helpline calling.
The Amazon Astro is basically a smart display and indoor security camera with autonomous navigation abilities and a personality. This Alexa-powered robot rolls from room to room at your beck and call, and lets you keep an eye on your home and video chat with family members from wherever you are. The Astro can follow you around your home, hang out like a pet, play music and videos, answer questions, and transport items in its cargo bin. Though expensive and a bit gimmicky, the Astro pleasantly surprised me with its excellent navigation and home monitoring abilities. If home surveillance is your main concern, outfitting each room with an indoor security camera is likely a more effective and affordable option. But the Astro also offers a winning combination of safety and entertainment features beyond, and having one at home feels like living in the future.
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