Friday, 21 September 2018 11:05

All-new Amazon Echo devices announced for 2018, 2018, 2018...


Can you hear that? Amazon Echo devices have been updated for 2018, with new designs, upgraded speakers and more to challenge competitors for smart speaker and smart home supremacy. 

Being announced the same day when Apple's new iPhones are finally available at retail, Amazon has announced its "all-new line-up of Echo devices", which the company naturally says makes it "easier than ever before for Australians to bring the features and convenience of Alexa to any room in the home".

There'e also the impressive new Echo Show, which will be available in Australia, offering an "all-new design with a 10-inch HD display and a built-in smart home hub" - full details are listed below, please read on!

So, what are the new Echo devices on offer, and what do they cost Down Under?

The new devices are as follows, and can all be seen here at Amazon:

All-New Echo Plus: A simple way to start your smart home with a built-in Zigbee hub, plus an upgraded speaker and a new design, and $229.00

With its built-in Zigbee smart home hub, the all-new Echo Plus makes setting up compatible smart home devices easy. Just say, “Alexa, discover my devices”, and Echo Plus will automatically discover and setup compatible lights, locks, plugs, switches, and more without the need for additional hubs or apps.

Echo Plus now includes an embedded temperature sensor, so you can set temperature-based routines using other smart home devices. For example, when the living room temperature reaches 30 degrees, Alexa can send a notification to your phone and turn on a fan connected to a smart plug.

Echo Plus has a larger 3-inch Neodymium woofer and increased back volume so 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 Grey, and Sandstone.

All-New Echo Dot: The easiest way to bring Alexa into your home, now with a new speaker for louder and crisper sound, an updated fabric design, and $79.00

The next-generation Echo Dot features a new fabric design and more powerful sound—and it is still the best way to add Alexa to any room. With an all-new curved shape and fabric finish, Echo Dot is available in Charcoal, Heather Grey, and Sandstone, letting customers easily mix and match.

The new Echo Dot plays music louder with richer sound, all in a compact design. Put an Echo Dot in every room 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.

Echo Sub: An Echo companion device, that adds deep, rich bass to music playback on Echo devices for $199.00.

Echo Sub is the first wireless Echo subwoofer for those who want to pump up the bass when listening to music on their existing or new Echo devices. You can connect Echo Sub to compatible Echo devices to create a 1.1 or 2.1 pairing for stereo sound. With the equaliser feature, you can adjust the bass, mid-range, and treble of the pairing simply by using your voice. Just say, “Alexa, turn up the bass".

So, what about the new Echo Show?

Echo Show: An all-new design available in Australia, upgraded speaker, a stunning 10-inch HD display, and a built-in smart home hub, plus all the glanceable features customers love about Alexa for $349.00

“Customers tell us they love the convenience of being able to ask Alexa to show them things,” said Tom Taylor, senior vice-president, Amazon Alexa.

“Today, we’re making the voice-first, visual Echo Show experience better in every way by adding even more experiences to delight our customers – a dynamic and vivid display makes watching videos even more enjoyable, new speakers for music, simple set-up and control of smart home devices, Skype calling to friends and family, and all-new visual features.”

New design and expansive sound

The all-new Echo Show features a vibrant 10-inch HD display that shows colourful, fresh, and compelling visuals. So when you ask Alexa to show you the weather, watch a video or pull up your shopping list, the experience is even more delightful.

The screen is complemented by dual, side-firing 2 Neodymium drivers, a passive bass radiator and Dolby processing to deliver expansive sound with deep, powerful lows and crisp highs, perfect for listening to your favourite music. Just ask to play Amazon Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more.

Built-In smart home hub

With a built-in Zigbee smart home hub, Echo Show makes it simple to start your smart home. Just say “Alexa, discover my devices,” to automatically discover and set-up compatible light bulbs, plugs and switches without the need for additional hubs or apps. Once set up, ask Alexa to turn on the lights or use the touch-screen to turn devices on and off.

Even more calling options

The all-new Echo Show has a built-in, 5MP camera that supports high-definition video calling and is great for hands-free calls to friends and family who have an Echo Spot, Echo Show, or the Alexa App. Use Drop In on supported Echo devices in the playroom, or check in on the living room to see if the dog is behaving.

Coming soon, customers can connect with even more friends and family around the world through support for Skype calling and video calling. Just say, “Alexa, call Nick on Skype” or “Alexa, Skype Nick” to reach Nick wherever he uses Skype.

“Skype calling with Alexa will allow the hundreds of millions of Skype customers around the world to easily make hands-free Skype calls from their Echo devices,” said Gaurav Sareen, corporate vice-president, Microsoft. “This new experience makes it even easier to connect with friends and family and we can’t wait for customers to try it out.”

Simple shopping

Staying on top of your weekly shopping is easy with Echo Show. Simply say, “Alexa, reorder toothpaste” and she will help you order your favourite brand. Need to build a list? Just say, “Alexa, add nappies to my list.” And if you’ve got an important order on the way, Alexa will let you know when it’s arriving. Just say “Alexa, where’s my stuff.”

Built-In Web browser

Echo Show has a built-in Web browser that can be opened by saying, “Alexa, open Silk” or “Alexa, open Firefox”. Once open, you can use the on-screen keyboard to type a URL and visit your favourite website. And like other browsers, you can bookmark your favourite websites for easy access.

Skills for the screen

Thousands of skills are available on the all-new Echo Show. Now you can do things like check your commute with NextThere or watch the Fox Sports News live stream. You can also find out when your energy bill is due from AGL and check your credit card due date with NAB. With Alexa skills it's easy to create some family fun with skills from Kinderling and Amazon Storytime, or chill out with a selection of relaxation sounds, and much more.

Pricing and availability

Echo Show is available at $349.00 and includes a Philips Hue smart lightbulb while supplies last. Echo Show will also have an accompanying stand that will allow you to tilt the Echo Show to adjust the viewing and camera angles for only $49.95. Both are available for pre-order starting today and will begin shipping next month. Devices may also be pre-ordered at retailers including JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, and more.

“We want you to have access to Alexa everywhere – in your kitchen, in your living room, in your office, and more,” said Tom Taylor, senior vice-president, Amazon Alexa. “Today, we’re excited to expand the number of ways that customers can add Alexa to their homes, so they can use Alexa to make their lives more convenient and easy.”

"When paired with compatible smart home devices, the new Echo range allows Australians to transform their home with smart lights, locks, sensors, plugs, switches, and more."

Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, and Echo Sub are available for pre-order on Amazon's website right now, starting today and will "start shipping next month. Devices may also be pre-ordered at retailers including JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, and more".

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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