Amazon (AMZN) has unveiled an all-new version of its popular Echo speaker, available for sale Wednesday for $99 — $80 less than its previous Echo speaker.
The new Echo speaker was announced at an Amazon event held in its Seattle headquarters and features several upgrades including an all-new audio design with a mini built-in subwoofer the company promises will pump out deeper richer sound, as well as newer “far-field” technology for better voice recognition so Alexa can recognize your commands from farther away. The new Echo will also come in at least four colors, based on the onstage demo, including black, silver, white, and a type of wooden veneer.
“A kitchen is a very tough acoustic environment; a living room is a very tough acoustic environment,” explained Dave Limp, Amazon SVP of Devices and Services, of the company’s reasoning for introducing the improved design.
Indeed, a brief demo of the all-new Echo onstage suggested the Echo will offer louder room-filling sound — a significant improvement upon the first Amazon Echo and Echo Dot speaker, which the company introduced in years past.
The company on Wednesday also announced the Echo Plus, a speaker that largely resembles the same tall cylinder-shaped Echo speaker shoppers are already familiar with. That version will also sport improved audio and even come with one Philips Hue bulb, which users can control with voice commands. The Echo Plus will retail for $149 — about $30 less than its predecessor.
One of the Echo Plus’s new features is what Amazon is calling a built-in “smart home hub,” which lets you easily connect smart devices around home your home — compatible lights, locks, and switches, for instance — just by saying, “Alexa, discover my devices.”
Given the rate of tech innovation today, Wednesday’s announcement isn’t all that surprising. Perhaps more somewhat surprising was Amazon’s drastic $80 price cut on the Echo product and $30 on the Echo Plus. In doing so, Amazon is sending a very clear message: it wants to put as many Echo speakers as possible in as many households as possible, and price should not be a barrier to entry.
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