American technology major, Amazon pulled the wraps off the new line of Echo smart speaker series and companion devices in Seattle.
Up first, Amazon's popular Alexa-powered mini digital assistant Echo Dot gets major upgrades. The 2018-series model now comes with new fabric design, curvaceous body structure and more powerful sound. The company claims that the new Echo Dot (3rd gen) plays music louder with richer sound, despite the compact design. It can connect to the home theatre or any other speaker via Bluetooth or 3.5mm audio cable for even bigger sound. Consumers can put an Echo Dot in all rooms of the home to ask for information or the weather, play your favourite music in a multi-room music grouping, set timers and alarms, and control compatible smart home devices. It is available in Charcoal, Heather Gray, and Sandstone, letting customers easily mix and match.
The top-end model Echo Plus gets a big upgrade too both in terms of design, capabilities and sound output. It comes with bigger 3-inch Neodymium woofer and increased back volume so that the bass feels stronger and the mids and highs are clearer. It also features an all-new fabric design and is available in Charcoal, Heather Gray, and Sandstone.
The new Echo Plus comes with built-in Zigbee smart home hub, a first in the series. With this, the consumers can easily set up compatible companion smart home appliances. Consumers can just say, "Alexa, discover my devices," and Echo Plus will automatically discover and setup compatible lights and plugs without the need for additional hubs or apps.
Echo Plus also comes with an embedded temperature sensor, so the consumers can set temperature-based routines using other smart home devices. For instance, when the living room reaches 32 degree Celsius, Alexa can send a notification to your phone and turn on the AC connected to a smart plug.
Amazon has also announced a new companion subwoofer aptly named Echo Sub. It is a wireless subwoofer, which helps boost the sound and stereo effect of the existing Amazon Echo speakers. It can create 1.1 or 2.1 pairing for stereo sound and comes with the equalizer feature so that users can adjust the bass, mid-range, and treble of the pairing simply by using your voice. Just say, "Alexa, turn up the bass."
The company also announced that it has improved the voice-assistant Amazon Alexa with new features that will be more convenient, safe, and entertaining for the consumer. New capabilities include entertainment features like left-right stereo pairing, TIDAL, and Amazon Music New Release Notifications; productivity features like email management, step-by-step cooking, and location-based Routines; smart home and home monitoring features like Alexa Guard, Hunches, and Local Voice Control; and FreeTime on Alexa features like kid-focused Routines, podcasts, new skills, and more. It can be noted that some features will be initially available in the US and will be expanded to other markets soon.
New Amazon Echo devices price and availability:
All new Echo devices are available for pre-order on Amazon.in starting 21 September. Echo Dot and Echo Plus will start shipping next month on 11 October and costs Rs 4,499 and Rs 14,999, respectively.
On the other hand, Echo Sub, which costs Rs 12,999 will be available from November 14.
Besides the new Echo smart speakers and the companion subwoofer, Amazon unveiled new Fire TV Recast, a new companion DVR that lets the consumers easily watch, record, and replay free over-the-air TV programming on Fire TV, Echo Show, and on compatible Fire tablet, iOS, and Android devices.
Consumers can just connect the Fire TV Recast to a HDTV antenna (sold separately) for instant access to free over-the-air TV content available in your area, such as live shows, local news, sports, and more from channels like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and The CW – all with no monthly fees. However, for now, the device will be available only in US. It comes in two models— 2–tuner model with 500GB of storage that allows you to record up to 2 shows at once and holds up to 75 hours of HD programming for $229.99, and a 4–tuner model with 1TB of storage that allows you to record up to 4 shows at once and holds up to 150 hours of HD programming for $279.99.
The company also claims that consumers will be able to connect the external portable hard disk to store more programs, and this feature is expected to be activated via a software update soon.
Also, Amazon has launched new Echo Show with 10-inch HD display. It comes with a built-in smart home hub, and an upgraded speaker system that delivers powerful bass and stereo sound—and it costs $229.99 same as the previous iteration. Again, this is still restricted to the US market.