Amazon has unveiled a batch of new Echo gadgets along with a new edition of the original device. It’s also releasing a 4K 60fps version of the Fire TV stick.
The new 2nd generation Echo isn’t overwhelmingly different to the original, though it’s got a slightly different shape and more options for casing design. The main technical improvement is that it now has a far-field microphone that should boost voice recognition. It also supports multi-room audio, though of course you’ll need multiple devices. The Echo is $100 or $250 for a three-pack.
There’s also a new top-end device, the $150 Echo Plus. The speakers include a tweeter and woofer, making it more like full-blown hi-fi system speakers. There’s also support for smart home gadget controls through the Zigbee protocol and Amazon is bundling a Philips Hue light bulb with the Echo Plus.
In what feels like an attempt to cover every form factor/pricing combo, Amazon’s added a $130 Echo Spot (pictured). It’s effectively a mix of the tiny speaker Echo Dot and the tablet-like Echo Screen. In practice it works like the Echo Dot but you can watch video on the screen.
At the budget end, there’s an utterly baffling Echo Button, which comes in a two-pack for $19. They are literally just pressable buttons that can light up in different colors, a little like a deconstructed Simon game. with their use programmed by other devices. It appears that at launch they’ll be pushed as a way to play interactive family games, though in theory they could be programmable for specific smart home purposes.
Finally there’s a new Fire TV dongle suitable for high end TVs: as well as 4K and 60fps, it supports HDR and Dolby Atmos. It’s $69, with an option to throw in an Echo Dot for $10 extra.