Amazon launched the first Echo smart speaker before smart speakers were an established product category. Smart speakers have since become big business for Amazon, as well as Google. While some reports say Google has pulled ahead, Amazon is determined to continue pushing its Alexa assistant with a new wave of products. The company just unveiled 11 new Alexa devices including a smart microwave and upgraded Echos.
First up, there are new Echo devices. In Amazon’s parlance, Echos are the smart speakers at the heart of the Alexa ecosystem. The other Alexa-enabled gadgets are not standalone Alexa hubs. At the low end is the new Echo Dot. This speaker costs $50 just like the old Dot, but it has a more stylish fabric design, and the speaker is louder. You can buy the new Dot today, and it’ll ship next month.
The Echo Plus revision is more substantial, but it costs more at $150. There’s an integrated ZigBee smart home hub, so you can say “Alexa, discover my devices” to link up compatible smart home hardware like smart locks and lights. It also has a temperature sensor, which can plug into your smart home to trigger events based on the temperature inside. Amazon says the new Echo Plus gets a larger 3-inch woofer and increased overall volume as well. This speaker comes in a new fabric design to match the updates Dot, too. This one is up for pre-order today.
Amazon has announced a revamped Echo Show as well. This device is larger than the old Show with a 10-inch HD screen and an upgraded speaker. It also has the ZigBee hub from the Echo Plus for easier smart home integration. It costs $230, and you can pre-order it right now. The new Show will ship next month.
The last new Echo device is an automotive accessory called Echo Auto. This device is only $25, but it’s invitation-only right now. Echo Auto plugs into the 12v power outlet in your vehicle. It connects to your stereo via a 3.5mm jack or Bluetooth, and data connectivity comes from your smartphone via the Alexa app. The end result is Alexa in your car.
If you’re all about that bass, the Echo Sub (below) can help pump it up. This is a wireless subwoofer that pairs with your Echo smart speaker. It’s $130 and ships next month. In a similar vein, the Echo Link and Link Amp are designed to bring Alexa to high-end audio systems. The Link Amp has 60W two-channel amplifiers with digital and analog connections. You can use this to power big, powerful speakers and add Alexa while you’re at it. The Link Amp will run you $299 when it ships early next year. The Echo Link is for those who already have a powerful amplifier in their setup. It’s less expensive at $199 and ships in a few months.
If you’ve got a speaker that isn’t part of a high-end setup, you can still add Alexa to it. Amazon’s new Echo Input is a small puck that plugs into an existing speaker via a 3.5mm jack. You communicate with Alexa via the Input’s mic, but audio comes from the connected speaker. This device will cost $35 when it comes out early next year.
Lastly, there’s the Echo Wall Clock. This is kind of a weird one — the clock pairs with an Echo speaker via Bluetooth and provides visual feedback for reminders and timers via an LED ring. The clock measures 10-inches across and is battery-powered. It’ll cost $30 and launches in early 2019.
Alexa Smart Home
Amazon announced two smart home devices that connect to Alexa as well. It now has its own smart plug for $25. Once connected to Alexa, you can use an Echo speaker or other Alexa endpoint to control the plug and set schedules.
Amazon is also releasing a microwave, but it’s a smart microwave. The AmazonBasics Microwave is a standard tabletop unit that will cost $60. It pairs with Alexa devices for voice control. You can set and modify timers, and a button on the appliance wakes up your paired device for instant voice commands. There’s also Dash Replenishment integration. So, you can order more popcorn automatically before you run out. You can pre-order the microwave now, and it ships in November.
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