March 20 2018

After Almost 3 Years, There's a New Echo

March 20 2018, 11:33 | Erick Evans

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The new Echo Plus is being pitched as a more powerful version of the Echo and automatically looks for and connects with other smart home devices around the home.

Amazon has announced new versions of its Echo smart speakers that promise improved sound and voice recognition.

AMZN stock got a small bump today as word spread of the big event. That might be because the new Echo features updated audio components like a dedicated woofer and tweeter.

Amazon has announced a second-generation Echo speaker that's much cheaper and around half the size of the original.

Existing Echo devices are also getting a features boost. For example, if you say "Alexa, good night" you'll trigger a series of actions on your smart home devices: Your lights will turn off, your TV will turn off, your door will lock.

It has updated far-field technology for improved wake word processing, beamforming technology, and enhanced field noise cancelation.

You can even ask Amazon's voice-powered Alexa assistant to play music in different rooms or have them playing together.

Amazon's new Fire TV offers access to a growing collection of channels, apps, and Alexa skills, including over 500,000 TV episodes and movies from services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, Amazon Video, and more.

Both products are available for pre-order immediately, and will ship next month, Amazon says. A 3-pack will be available for $250.

But researchers suggest it and its smaller sibling the Echo Dot have been the best selling devices of their kind. Previously, consumers could control some of these devices with their Echo, but had to add an additional hub device for any bulbs that weren't using Wifi as their networking protocol.

Alexa's success to date has been about simplicity, and if I was its marketing team, I'd be very anxious this flurry of new devices is overwhelming.

The first in the line is Echo Buttons, which is priced at $20 a pair. is looking to an ageing technology to continue its push to digitise and connect the home: the landline phone.

In a statement, Amazon said: "As of this afternoon, Google has chosen to no longer make YouTube available on Echo Show, without explanation and without notification to customers". The speaker, which will go on sale Wednesday, is created to compete with Apple's HomePod. At $129, the Echo Spot is an alarm clock-sized speaker that also comes with a 2.5-inch screen and video camera that can be used for video playback and calls.

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