Amazon has announced more than 10 devices with Alexa built-in or supporting Alexa at an event held in Seattle. There is new development in product categories as well as existing product lines like Echo Dot, Echo Plus and Echo Show.
Having released the first smart speaker with a touchscreen, Amazon brought a new form factor to the industry with the Echo Show. Now, the company is ready to introduce an improved model.
The second-generation Echo Show features a 10-inch touchscreen, larger than the 7-inch one on the previous model. It also has a new design, better than the old one which has drawn criticism. Furthermore, the speaker has a better sound quality with real-time Dolby processing and an eight-microphone array for better audio reception.
Although the Echo Show cannot support YouTube video playing due to a conflict between Amazon and Google, it will integrate Microsoft Skype for video chat and third-party browser Firefox, to bring more features to the speaker to work like a tablet.
The new Echo Show will keep the first-generation model’s price of US$229 and start shipping in October.
Bringing Alexa to non-smart speakers and cars
Amazon unveiled two new device categories with Alexa built-in at the event – the Echo Input and the Echo Auto.
The Echo Input is device smaller than the Echo Dot with the same flat round design. It has far-field microphones and is able to turn any traditional speakers into an Echo smart speaker with all Alexa voice-control features.
It’s a device similar to Google’s Chromecast Audio, which can be plugged into another speaker and stream music to it. However, the Google device do not bring along Google Assistant features while the Echo Input can.
Amazon plans to work with third-party speaker manufacturers, including Bose, to put the Echo Input into the manufacturers’ boxes.
The Echo Input will be launched later this year in the U.S., the UK and Germany at US$34.99.
The Echo Auto, on the other hand, aims to bring Alexa into cars which don’t have Alexa in the in-car software. The device is a small dongle which plugs into car’s infotainment system. It features eight microphone array and needs to connect to the user’s phone for could connection. When users ask Alexa for navigation, the assistant will offer services from Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze, and present the directions in map using the phone as a display.
The Echo Auto will cost US$49.99 and starts shipping later this year.
Echo Dot and Echo Plus upgraded
The new Echo Dot, which hasn’t had any updates since fall 2016, has a new look with fabric covers and soft edges, making it look similar to the Google Home Mini. In terms of hardware, it has now a seven-microphone array, improved sound quality and 70% louder voices.
The new smart home-focused Echo Plus has a new fabric-covered design as well, same with the new Echo speaker introduced last year. It also has an integrated temperature sensor, allowing users to ask Alexa about the room temperature or to trigger automation commands when a certain temperature is reached. For instance, when it’s too warm inside, the Echo Plus can automatically turn on a fan or adjust the thermostat.
The new Echo Dot will have the same price of US$49.99 while the Echo Plus is priced at US$149.99. Both devices will become available in October in every country where Alexa is available.
To improve Echo devices’ sound quality in general, Amazon has introduced the Echo Sub as subwoofer, the Echo Link and Echo Link Amp. They will deliver high quality audio to Echo speakers.
The Echo Sub will cost US$129.99, the Echo Link US$199.99 and the Link Amp US$299.99.