Amazon has announced a host of Alexa-powered Echo devices, a new Amazon Fire TV, and teamed up with BMW to bring its virtual assistant to the road.
All-new Amazon Echo
The all-new Amazon Echo comes with a new design and an improved sound. It’s considerably smaller than the original Echo device, but larger than the Dot, and comes in a variety of interchangeable shell colours such as charcoal, sandstone, and heather grey.
The smart speaker features a dedicated tweeter, Dolby processing, and a 2.5-inch down-firing woofer. In addition, Amazon says it has better wake word processing, improved beamforming tech, and enhanced noise cancellation, so it is able to detect the wake word from across the room even when noisy.
The new Echo is available to pre-order now for $99.99 and will start shipping next month.
Amazon has also unveiled the Echo Plus, which is designed to control the smart home with its built-in hub. It keeps the original Echo design but is able to automatically connect with compatible smart lighting, locks, plugs, switches, and more without the need to download any apps or skills. Of course, the original Echo can also be used to control other smart devices, but requires separate apps or skills to do so.
The Echo Plus, like the all-new Echo, is available for pre-order now and will start shipping next month. It costs $149.99 and customers will receive a Phillips Hue smart lightbulb with every purchase while stocks last.
Now, we move on to the Echo Spot, a small device with a 2.5-inch display for Alexa to display things such as the time, weather, commute, calendar, video flash briefing, and more. In addition, like the Echo Show, it can be used to make voice and video calls, or send a message.
It features four microphones and, like the other new devices, improved wake word recognition. It has a built-in 2W speaker, but can also connect to external speakers via Bluetooth or using a 3.5mm stereo cable.
The Echo Spot is available in black and white for $129.99 and will start shipping in the US in December. It will be available in the UK and Germany early next year.
Amazon also introduced an Alexa accessory that turns an Echo device into a hand-free speakerphone for a home phone line.
The Echo Connect works with an existing home phone service, either landline or VoIP. It can be used to call anybody on a contact list, and they will the home phone number as the caller ID. If someone is calling, Alexa will announce who it is – if they are on the contacts list – and can be asked to connect.
The Echo Connect will become available later this year. It will cost $34.99.
All-new Fire TV
Amazon’s new Fire TV streaming box features 4K ultra HD, high dynamic range (HDR), and Alexa voice remote.
It comes with 2GB of memory and 8GB of storage in its smaller frame, as well as a 1.5 Ghz quad core processor and dual-band 802. 11ac wi-fi.
Other than the 4K and HDR, support the streaming box isn’t overly different to previous iterations. It’s available for pre-order in the US for $69.99, and will start shipping October 25.
Alexa on the road
Away from the range of new hardware, Amazon has teamed up with BMW to bring Alexa to BMW and Mini vehicles starting mid-2018.
Drivers of the vehicles will be able to ask Alexa for directions, make calls, play music, podcasts and audiobooks, control their smart home, check the news, and more without having to download a separate app.
The built-in ability to interact with Alexa will be in all 2018 model year BMW and Mini vehicles from mid-2018 in the US, the UK and Germany.