Amazon has introduced the latest generation in their Echo family of devices, including an all-new Echo, an Echo Plus smart hub and the Echo Spot.
Echo (2nd Gen) & Echo Plus
For the second-gen Echo, Amazon has drastically reduced the size of the device while not sacrificing on sound quality. The device has the second generation of far-field technology for improved wake word processing, improving beamforming technology and noise cancellation.
The new Echo also has Dolby audio processing so Alexa will sound crip with dynamic bass along with a 2.5″ down-firing subwoofer. The device is now about half the size of the original Echo and now be customized to fit the room it’s in. Shells for the new Echo come in charcoal, sandstone, heather grey, oak veneer, walnut veneer and silver.
The new Echo will be available for $99 USD, pre-orders start today with the device shipping on October 31st.
The new Echo Plus is meant to be used more as a smart home hub. You’ll be able to say things like, “Alexa, discover my devices” and the Echo Plus will be able to automatically discover and set up ZigBee compatible lights, locks, switches and more without the need for an additional hub or app.
The Echo Plus has 360-degree omnidirectional audio with Dolby processing, so just like the new Echo, you’ll be able to get better audio clarity. The Echo Plus has a similar design to the previous generation Echo but also comes in a new silver colour option in addition to black and white.
The Echo Plus will be available for $149 USD, pre-orders start today and will start shipping on October 31st.
Amazon also introduced Alexa Routines, so you’ll be able to automate a series of actions with a single voice command. So for example, you could say, “Alexa, good night” and Alexa will turn off your lights, make sure your door is locked and turn off the TV. Alexa Routines will work smart devices from companies such as TP-Link, Philips Hue, Wemo and August.
Alexa Routines will be available on the new Echo, Echo Plus as well as the previous generation Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show in October.
In addition to Alexa Routines, Amazon also introduced improved smart home groups, so you’ll no longer need to remember a specific name of a smart device or group to be able to control them. So for example, if you have an Echo device in your kitchen, you can walk in and say, “Alexa, turn on the lights” instead of “Alexa, turn on kitchen lights.”
Improved smart groups will be available on the new Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot and Echo Show.
Earlier this year, Amazon introduced the Echo Show, which was their first Echo device with a touchscreen. Now, Amazon has introduced the Echo Spot.
The Echo Spot has a more rounded design and still has the touch display as seen on the Echo Show. You’ll be able to watch video news briefings, set alarms and even use Alexa calling via the front-facing camera.
The device has the same second-generation far-field technology with four microphones as the new Echo along with acoustic beam-forming technology and enhanced noise cancellation. There’s also Bluetooth and audio-out port to connect to external speakers.
The Echo Spot will be available in December in the US for $129 USD and come to the UK and Germany in early 2018.
Alongside the announcement of the new Echo and Echo Plus, Amazon also announced Echo Buttons, which is the first of what they’re calling Alexa Gadgets. These will enable you to play games with friends and family with Alexa. You’ll be able to play games such as Trivial Pursuit or Buzzer Beater Basketball Trivia.
The Echo Buttons will be able in a two-pack for $19.99 USD and be available in time for the holidays in US, UK and Germany.
Amazon also announced the Echo Connect, which allows you to turn your Echo device in a hands-free speakerphone for your home phone line. The Echo Connect works with your existing home phone service on either landline or VoIP.
To get started, all you have to do is connect the device to your Wi-Fi and then plug in your home phone jack or VoIP adapter and finish setting up in the Alexa app. The Echo Connect will be available later this year for $34.99 USD.
All-New Amazon Fire TV
Amazon also introduced an all-new Amazon Fire TV which is their answer to Google’s Chromecast Ultra. The device has a dongle design and is forty percent more powerful than the Fire TV Stick.
It supports 4K Ultra HD, High Dynamic Range (HDR) along with Dolby Atmos audio. The device will come with an Alexa Voice Remote so you can say, “Find comedies” and you’ll get results from Netflix, Amazon Video and more.
The all-new Fire TV is available for pre-order today in the US for $69.99 USD and ship on October 25th. You can also buy the new Fire TV bundled with an Echo Dot for $79.99 USD or HD Antenna for $74.99 USD.
Amazon & BMW
Amazon also announced a partnership to bring Alexa to BMW and MINI vehicles starting in mid-2018. You’ll be able to ask Alexa voice directions, call local businesses, play music or even control your smart home, right from your vehicle.
You’ll also have access to the over 25,000 Alexa skills such as Starbucks, NPR, TED Talks and more. Amazon Alexa will be available in all 2018 model year BMW and MINI vehicles, starting in mid-2018 in the US, UK and Germany.