All-new Amazon Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Spot and Echo Connect set to conquer the smart home
Well, these all came out of nowhere. Granted, the product that started this whole trend of “smart speakers” way back in 2014 was yet to receive a proper, direct sequel, with a nice redesign and upgraded internals, instead getting a bunch of spin-offs, some smaller, some cheaper, some extra-versatile and some outright weirder.
But the time has finally come for the “next generation of Echo” to go up for pre-order, including the “all-new” Amazon Echo and an Echo Plus with a built-in smart home hub.
By far the greatest thing about the long overdue second-gen Echo is a $99.99 introductory price essentially matching the frequently discounted tag of the original variant lately. For just a Benjamin, the shorter and wider Echo delivers “immersive sound”, thanks to a revised speaker architecture, dedicated tweeter, 2.5-inch down-firing woofer and Dolby processing, as well as improved far-field technology, with enhanced noise cancellation and better wake word processing.
Basically, this thing should sound better and listen better, all at a killer price, in a wide range of shell colors and finishes, from charcoal to sandstone, oak veneer, walnut veneer and silver.
Meanwhile, the Echo Plus looks like a polished, more premium version of the OG Echo on the outside, letting you set up your smart home “in minutes”, as it automatically discovers and activates compatible lights, locks, plugs, switches, and “more” without needing additional hubs or apps.
This one’s crazy affordable too, at $149.99, and Amazon even throws in a Philips Hue smart lightbulb “while supplies last.” Both the “all-new” Echo and Echo Plus will begin shipping next month, followed by a $129.99 Echo Spot in December, and a $34.99 Echo Connect “later this year.”
The Echo Spot is billed as a sort of cross between the miniature Echo Dot and large-screened Echo Show, sporting its own tiny 2.5-inch circular display. Stylish and compact, it still houses a 2W speaker, not to mention four microphones, acoustic beam-forming technology and enhanced noise cancellation.
Finally, the Echo Connect works in tandem with an Echo, any Echo, to hook up your home phone line, acting as a “high-quality, hands-free speakerphone.” Speaking of calling and messaging, the feature already used by “millions” after its introduction a few months back is now expanding to support free outbound calling to phone numbers in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Still only from the US, though, on Alexa-powered Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show devices.