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Amazon’s surprise Echo announcement unveil Echos upon Echos


It’s almost getting tiresome to write about yet another new product from Amazon, but they really want to get Alexa into your house in one way or another. So, to do that, they’ll just churn even more versions of the Amazon Echo, and eventually one of them will end up in your household, right? At a surprise event this week, Amazon unveiled 5 new Echo products: a 2nd generation upgrade, a bigger one with a built-in smart hub, a fancy alarm clock, one that connects to a landline phone, and a one-button game controller. Oh, and there’s also a new 4K Fire TV.

The New 2nd Generation Amazon Echo
I guess it’s about time that the Amazon Echo got a real upgrade. This updated version is about half the size of the original Amazon Echo. It has a new cloth-covering and an option for a slick wood veneer. The speaker’s sound quality has been improved with a Dolby-powered dedicated woofer and tweeter.

A trend with all these new Echo devices is an updated far field microphone array for improved voice recognition, allowing Alexa to recognize your voice commands even in a loud room.

The 2nd generation Amazon Echo is available for pre-order now at $100 and will ship on October 31.


The Amazon Echo Plus
Now there’s a premium version of the Echo. The Amazon Echo Plus is about the same size as the original Echo. The special feature of this device is the built-in smart home hub that can automatically detect smart devices in your household and easily set them up for you. Just say “Alexa, discover my devices” and the Echo Plus will automatically set up any smart devices it detects, such as lights, lock, and outlets.

The Echo Plus will retail for $150 and release on October 31.

The Echo Spot
This is probably the device that leaves the biggest impression out of this flood of Echo products. The Echo Spot is tiny Echo with a small, 2.5-inch circular screen. It looks like a very fancy alarm clock and can certainly act as one. It’s actually like a smaller, more stylish version of the Echo Show.

You can use the screen to display lyrics, shopping lists, calendar reminders, weather forecasts, and more. You can even watch Amazon Video on it, if you can stand to watch it on such a tiny screen.

The Echo Spot has a front-facing camera, allowing you to make video calls with other Echo Spots, Echo Shows, and the Alexa App. It can also interface with camera-enabled smart devices to get views from gadgets like baby monitors or door cameras.

If the tiny built-in speaker isn’t enough, you can connect the Echo Spot to external speakers via Bluetooth or a 3.5 mm stereo jack.

The Echo Spot will be available for $130 and will ship on December 19.

The Echo Connect
This is a very interesting device that meets old communication tech with new. The Echo Connect works with a landline phone connection, turning any Echo device into a smart speakerphone. You simply connect a landline phone jack into the Echo Connect and then wirelessly pair it with an existing Echo device in your home. You can then use that Echo as a landline phone, using your existing phone number to make calls like an ordinary old-fashioned telephone.

It’s a very peculiar and unexpected approach to go after people who still rely on a landline phone service. Amazon really wants everyone to use the Echo!

The Echo Connect will release on December 13 for $35.

Echo Buttons
The Echo Button is the first in a line of “Alexa Gadgets.” It’s essentially a single-button, light-up, color changing Bluetooth game controller that lets you play simple games on Echo devices. It’s perfect for something like a trivia game that lets players buzz in with an answer or for a rhythm game that has you hit the button to the beat of a song.

Amazon intends for these Buttons to act as “stocking stuffers,” as they will come in packs of 2 for $20 this holiday season.

Fire TV with 4K
Finally, there’s a new Fire TV, this time with support for 4K HDR video content at up to 60 frames per second and support for Dolby Atmos sound.

As opposed to the Fire TV Stick, the new Fire TV is a dongle that hangs off your TV’s HDMI port, much like the Chromecast Ultra.

Just like every Amazon product that’s part of this line-up, the Fire TV is Alexa-enabled. It comes with a remote with a built-in microphone for using Alexa to look up your favorite shows and movies, as well as all the other Alexa features you’d come to expect.

The new Fire TV will be available on October 25 for $70. Amazon is also providing a Fire TV bundle with an Echo Dot for only $10 more.

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