Amazon Updates Its Echo Line-up
Amazon is showing no signs of slowing down with their Smart Home devices. This week, they revealed a range of new products which will appeal to anyone interested in making their home 'smarter'. Not only are they upping the ante in your home but they are also looking to bring Alexa to your vehicle, announcing a partnership with BMW.
Take a look at their latest products:
All-new Amazon Echo
£90 guide price
The original Echo has been upgraded to a new, smaller design at a more affordable price. Fortunately, the lower price does not equate to fewer features. Instead, this design includes second generation, far-field performance (including noise cancellation), and generates a more impressive, room-filling sound with Dolby processing. Crisper vocals and a better base combined with a great range of colours from heather grey to silver, the new Echo seems like a fantastic product.
£140 guide price
The Echo Plus takes all the great features from the new Echo and adds even more. It offers more powerful audio and better clarity with 360 degrees, omnidirectional audio with Dolby processing. Furthermore, the Echo Plus can be a real Smart Home Hub with the introduction of Zigbee integrations, and the hub can automatically connect with other smart devices in your home. Not only can you control them via the Echo Plus, but you can also create a range of custom routines. By selecting certain phrases, you can trigger a range of actions with one command, for example; "Alexa, good morning" may turn on all your lights, play your morning playlist and get Alexa to tell you the forecast for the day.
$20 guide price
The Echo Button is, perhaps, the most random product announced by Amazon this week. They come in pairs and essentially enable you to play games with Alexa. Connected via Bluetooth, there are single player or multiplayer functions and a variety of games for you to choose from such as Trivial Pursuit or Beat the Intro.
$130 guide price
The Echo Spot is a brilliant addition to the Echo family. It is a smaller version of the Echo Show with a 2.5-inch display. This, along with a built-in camera and microphone, lets you make video calls to other Alexas or can function as a baby monitor. The Spot would be perfect on a bedside table to act as an alarm clock, displaying the time and weather.
Alexa & BMW
It will soon be possible to access Alexa from your car (if you have a BMW). From next year, they will be offering a deeper integration so you can have a voice assistant on the move.
Amazon is also in talks with Ford about having Alexa in their vehicles.
New Fire TV
£70 guide price
Amazon has revealed a new Fire TV, with a much smaller design, which connects via HDMI to the back of your TV. This new model has Alexa voice control, supports 4K content and HDR (high dynamic range) videos and offers Dolby Atmos audio support. The combination of all these features enables viewers to watch videos the way they were designed to look, with brighter colours and deeper blacks, enriching the experience.
Smart Home Groups
Amazon has developed a new feature to make voice commands more natural. Rather than stating specific names such as 'Alexa, turn the lounge side lamp on' you can walk into the room and say 'Alexa, turn the light on'. This will be launched next month and should make things easier for those with Alexa products.
As the majority of these products aren't due for release until later this year/early 2018 it is difficult to predict their place in smart homes. However, a cheaper and smaller Echo with improved features is bound to be a success as well as the refreshed Fire TV. We really like the look of the Echo Spot which has a good mixture of the best features that Echo products have to offer while the Echo Button and Echo Connect are perhaps more niche products.