Amazon Alexa: launching new Alexa devices

Amazon surprised everyone with a press event that unveiled a bunch of new Echo hardware. An update of the Amazon Alexa Echo speaker, originally launched in 2014, was overdue after the company spun off devices with an integrated camera and touchscreen.

“The company announced a smaller $100 Echo; a $150 Echo Plus with smart hub features; and an Echo-powered alarm clock called "Spot". Echo Connect, which turns your Echo devices into speakerphones for landlines; and a tiny Bluetooth button for games. Amazon is also bundling an Echo Dot with the new Alexa-powered Fire TV dongle for just $80, as well as with the Fire TV stick for $60.”


Amazon Echo Plus

The characteristics of the new Echo Plus set it apart, though: its abilities double as a smart home hub, one that connects to various wireless protocols to set up and control connected home gadgets and appliances.

In a demonstration of the Echo Plus’ smart home capabilities, Echo Plus was asked to “discover devices” around a mock-up kitchen and living room Amazon had set up at its headquarters. The Echo Plus went into a spinning blue circle while it searched across various wireless protocols. Eventually, it connected to Zigbee smart light bulbs, and began the setup process.

Amazon made a point to say that “no apps and no skills” were needed to set up the light bulbs, and that the Echo Plus “works out of the box” as a smart home hub.

The Echo Plus will start shipping for less than the price of the original Echo, launched three years ago: $149 in the US. It will also be available in the UK and Germany. Each box includes a Philips Hue smart bulb.

Which Amazon Echo is right for you?

This handy chart lets you compare the functionality and pricing of Amazon’s entire Echo line that got several new additions today at a big launch event. -->

A great comparison by Tech Crunch

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