Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Amazon’s Echo lineup is refreshed, revealing a smaller $99 version of its Echo speaker, a $149 Echo Plus with a built-in smart home hub, and the Echo Spot, which looks like a cross between the Echo Dot and Echo Show.
A $35 Echo Connect, meanwhile, will tap into your home’s landline and let you ask Alexa to place phone calls, while the Simon Says-esque Echo Buttons make Alexa part of game night. Those of you with BMWs will also be able to talk to Alexa, starting in 2018, the car maker announced.
Amazon today also showed off an updated Fire TV.
Amazon talked up some new Alexa features, including Routines, which lets you incorporate multiple devices into a single voice command. For example, say “Alexa, good night” to turn off the lights, lock the door, and turn off the TV all at once. Look for it on “Works with Amazon Alexa” devices, including those from TP Link, Philips Hue, Wemo, and August.
An update to smart home groups, meanwhile, will mean you can say “Alexa, turn on the lights” instead of “Alexa, turn on the kitchen overhead lamp.” That’s coming to the new Echo, the first-gen Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, and Echo Plus next month.
Echo and Echo Plus
The new Echo has slimmed down to 5.9 inches, compared to 9.25 inches on the original. But Amazon promises better wake word processing, improved beamforming technology, and enhanced noise cancellation.
Jazz up Echo with Google Home-like shells. An Echo with a charcoal, sandstone, or heather gray fabric finish arrives on Oct. 31 for $99; a walnut veneer, oak veneer, or silver finish is $119 and arrives on Nov. 8.
The Echo Plus looks more like the original Echo, but now includes a built-in smart home hub.
Say, “Alexa, discover my devices,” and Echo Plus will connect to compatible lights, locks, plugs, and switches. It works with ZigBee products like those from Philips Hue, GE, and Kwikset. To get you started, everyone who buys an Echo Plus will get a free Philips Hue smart lightbulb for a limited time.
Get the Echo Plus in white, black, or silver for $149.99; pre-order now for an Oct. 31 delivery.
Those with an Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show in the US, meanwhile, can now make outbound calls to phone numbers within the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Previously, you could only ask Alexa to call or send a message to anyone with a supported Echo device or the Alexa App.
If you have a landline, meanwhile, the $34.99 Echo Connect replaces your phone and lets you ask Alexa to place calls to those in your contact list, including 911.
Connect “turns your Echo into a high quality, hands-free speakerphone for your home phone line,” according to Amazon, whether that’s a landline or VoIP connection. When someone calls you, Alexa will announce whose calling and you can tell her whether to answer or not.
The device connects to your Wi-Fi network and home phone jack or VoIP adapter; set it up with the Alexa app. Pre-order it now for a Dec. 13 delivery.
If the touch-screen Amazon Echo Show is a bit large for your home, consider the smaller Echo Spot. The 4.1-inch device features a 2.5-inch screen, allowing you to keep tabs on home security cameras, look at photos, place calls, watch video, and look at your calendar, among other things