Amazon held an occasion at present in Seattle and introduced a pair of recent Echo residence audio system: the revamped $99 Echo and the $150 Echo Plus. The brand new Echo is the most recent model of the corporate’s Alexa-powered residence speaker, whereas the Echo Plus homes Amazon’s digital assistant along with being a sensible residence hub for IoT gadgets.

The brand new Echo speaker stays a cylindrical gadget, however this mannequin seems barely shorter and thicker than its $180 predecessor. It’s going to additionally are available a bunch of recent finishes, together with wood-like “oak” and “walnut” designs, in addition to darkish grey and charcoal cloth designs. The brand new gadget has an improved speaker system with a devoted subwoofer and tweeter, together with built-in Dolby sound. It additionally has “second-generation voice-recognition expertise” together with seven microphones, beamforming expertise, and noise cancellation so Alexa can hear your instructions from anyplace even when music is enjoying.

Undoubtedly, Amazon needed to improve the unique Echo’s internals so it may possibly compete with Apple’s high-end HomePod, which is slated to come back out on the finish of this 12 months. HomePod is priced at $349, so Echo already has a bonus with its $99 price ticket. Amazon additionally has a proposal for $50 off for those who purchase three new Echos.

Amazon’s newly introduced Echo Plus takes the Echo one step additional by being a sensible residence hub, which means it may possibly acknowledge and connect with sensible residence gadgets. It seems to be extra like the unique Echo than the brand new one does, with that tall cylinder design and coming solely in black, white, and silver. By saying “Alexa, uncover gadgets,” the Plus will be capable to see close by sensible gentle bulbs, safety cameras, and different IoT gadgets. Amazon claims the Plus will work with greater than 100 sensible residence gadgets, and every $150 Plus will include one Philips Hue sensible gentle bulb. The Plus additionally seems to have the improved speaker/mic system discovered within the new Echo, so it’s going to present higher sound high quality whereas additionally recognizing your instructions higher.

Amazon did not cease there: it introduced three extra new additions to the Echo household. The forthcoming Echo Join is a small, rectangular speakerphone that allows you to make voice calls to any common cellphone quantity by way of Alexa’s new voice calling function. Amazon introduced this on the occasion as nicely: Alexa will quickly be capable to make voice calls and ship textual content messages to cellphone numbers within the US, UK, and Germany. Customers can do that on an Echo gadget or within the Alexa cell app. The Echo Join will value $35 when it turns into obtainable early subsequent 12 months.

The $230 Echo Present speaker with touchscreen got here out earlier this 12 months, and Amazon is already making one other form of screen-toting speaker. The brand new Echo Spot is mainly a smaller, orb-like model of the Echo Present, that includes a four-mic array, a tiny, 2.5-inch round touchscreen, and a three.5mm audio output so that you can join exterior audio system if you want. At $130, the Spot appears to be a extra space-efficient Echo Present however with related options: it may possibly make video calls, play movies, present safety digital camera feeds, and show clock faces.

The ultimate new Echo gadget is extra of an adjunct than a standalone product. Amazon is looking the gadgets Echo Buttons, as they’re tiny, glowing disks that use the brand new Alexa Devices API to hook up with an present Echo by way of Bluetooth. This lets them develop into just like buzzers utilized in a sport present—on the occasion, Echo Buttons had been used to play a Trivial Pursuit-esque sport through which every participant has to press their Button once they assume they know the reply. Since they technically use Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant can inform the gamers in the event that they’re improper or proper immediately after they are saying their reply. Echo Buttons can be bought in packs of two for $20.


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