Calling all Amazon Alexa smart speaker lovers: get ready for a new generation of Echo speakers – there's plenty to talk about.
The big news is that Amazon is not introducing an Echo Plus 3rd Gen. It is unveiling an all-new, completely redesigned, fabric-covered Echo family, and it's spherical. Meet the new globe-shaped Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Dot with Clock and Echo Dot Kids Edition.
Starting with the most premium product, the next-generation Amazon Echo promises to combine the best of Echo and Echo Plus into a single device. It features what Amazon is calling "premium adaptive sound" and for the first time, it comes with a built-in smart home hub, with support for Zigbee, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and Amazon Sidewalk. Amazon Sidewalk can help you set up new devices quickly, extend the working range of devices like Ring Smart Lighting that may be beyond the capabilities of your home wifi, and offer new support for devices like Tile to locate misplaced items.
Amazon Echo now supports Dolby Stereo and should sound significantly better thanks to a 3.0-inch woofer, dual-firing tweeters, and Dolby processing. As with Echo Studio, the new Echo senses the acoustics of your space and fine-tunes audio playback.
The new Echo is powered by Amazon’s first-generation AZ1 Neural Edge processor, an all-new silicon module that’s purpose-built for accelerating machine learning applications. With AZ1, powerful inference engines can run quickly on the edge – starting with an all-neural speech recognition model that will process requests faster, which should make Alexa even more responsive.
Like the Echo, the new Echo Dot and Dot with Clock come in three different colours: Charcoal, Glacier White, and Twilight Blue. Echo Dot and Dot with Clock include a 1.6-inch, front-firing speaker. On all the spherical siblings, the LED speech light is now at the base of the sphere and it creates a quite futuristic aesthetic.
There are also two Kids Edition Dots, styled like a tiger or panda. The Kids Edition Echo Dot includes new features such as Reading Sidekick – yes, Alexa will help your child read.
Moving on, there's a new Echo Show in town too, namely, the Echo Show 10. It features 'Intelligent Motion' to follow you around the room, using a "completely silent" motor that allows the screen to spin to face you as you potter around your home.
It boasts a brighter, 10-inch adaptive HD display and 13MP camera, too. Plus, with new Alexa Group Calling you can create a group of up to eight friends and family members and say, “Alexa, call my family.” Later this year, Echo Show devices will also support Zoom and Amazon Chime video conferencing. Say, “Alexa, join my Zoom meeting,” or “Alexa, start my Chime meeting,” to join a video call.
As Echo Show 10 moves, so does its dual, front-firing tweeters and woofer, promising directional sound that automatically adapts to your space. Echo Show 10 will also rotate as you watch the news, flash briefings, or TV shows from Hulu + Live TV and Prime Video. And, coming soon, you will also be able to watch Netflix simply by asking Alexa, with the ability to search, browse, and stream the entire catalogue.
All of the new Echo products are available for pre-order today, and will ship later in the year. Echo is priced at £90 ($100 / AU$150), Echo Dot is £50 ($50 / AU$80) and the Echo Dot with Clock option will cost £60 ($60 / AU$100), as will the Echo Dot Kids Edition.
There was no better time for the retail giant to unveil some new products; we're just weeks away from Amazon's annual (postponed) sales event Amazon Prime Day after all – and of course the huge November bargain bonanza that is Black Friday.
We thought the retail giant would have some new smart speakers for us at its big September reveal (last year, the firm revealed its flagship Echo Studio speaker and the Amazon Echo 3rd Gen speaker at its fall event). Did the company disappoint? No, it did not.
The new Echo devices are also Amazon's most sustainable and climate-change aware yet, with a new Low Power mode for energy efficiency, (which will be rolled out to older models through a software update), 100 per cent post-consumer recycled fabric and 100 per cent recycled die cast aluminium.
Sadly, we can't vouch for the updated Echo smarts or sonic performance – yet.
Read all our Amazon Echo reviews