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Amazon Refreshes Echo Smart Speaker Lineup

Amazon has introduced a range of new smart speakers in its Echo lineup, including a redesign to the original Echo and a completely new device with a circular screen

First introduced alongside the Alexa digital assistant three years ago, the original Echo has been redesigned with a compact form factor and improved sound quality.

A number of new shell colours and finishes are set to give the smart speaker a new look with designs including charcoal, sandstone, heather gray, oak veneer, walnut veneer, and silver, while sound quality has been improved thanks to an “all-new speaker architecture” as well as a dedicated tweeter, 2.5-inch down-firing woofer and Dolby processing.

“The all-new Echo and Echo Plus deliver better sound, all new far-field technology, and new features we think customers will love,” said Amazon Alexa SVP Tom Taylor.

Second generation far-field technology also helps to improve wake word processing, beam-forming technology and noise cancellation.

Amazon has integrated a smart home hub into the new Echo Plus, which is designed to simplify the connection to compatible smart home devices. The company said users can simply ask the Echo Plus to discover devices, and it will automatically set up compatible devices from a range of manufacturers.

Echo Plus also features “enhanced 360-degree omni-directional audio” as well as Dolby processing for improved sound performance.

Also launched was the Echo Spot, which Amazon described as being “perfect for anywhere in the house”.

“Echo Spot combines the popular small design of Echo Dot, the display of Echo Show, and the features you love about Alexa into an all-new, stylish and compact device,” Taylor said.

“See the weather, watch video news briefings, glance at your alarm clock, check on your kids, and more—we think customers will find lots of places for Echo Spot in their homes.”

Echo Spot incorporates Amazon’s new far-field technology to improve the device’s ability to hear using four microphones, acoustic beam-forming technology and better noise cancellation.

It also features a front-facing camera for voice and video calls and a built-in speaker, as well as Bluetooth and audio-out for connecting to external speakers.

Amazon will make the Echo and Echo Plus available in the US from next month for US$99.99 and US$149.99, respectively. The Echo Spot will launch in the US in December for US$129.99

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