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AI / Alexa / Amazon

Amazon Unveils a Refreshed Echo Flagship Alexa Device Amid LOTS of New Holiday Hardware

Read below about Echo 2, Echo Connect, Echo buttons, Echo Plus, Fire TV 4K, Fire TV stick with Echo Dot bundle, Echo Spot, Alexa calls to landlines, and BMW/Alexa integration.

Product links (as available):

 

At a last minute hardware event at its offices in Seattle, Amazon today has announced a refreshed model of its flagship Echo speaker with Alexa. The updated speaker is a more subtle design to ensure it fits the room style and function. The new Echo device will be available later today at just $99. Buying 3 at a time, the price is just $50 per unit. The first available design is grey, but Amazon will sell different colored and textured shells for customization. The far-field voice recognition speakers have been upgraded, as well. The Echo 2 isn’t very different than the Dot with the VAUX speaker accessory. The Echo 2 will start shipping on October 31 with pre-orders starting today. In addition to the lower starting price, the primary enhancement is better sound:

Powerful speakers with Dolby processing that fill the room with immersive, 360° omnidirectional audio, and deliver crisp vocals and dynamic bass response.

The company has announced a new Echo Connect calling device. The Echo Connect is a $35 Wi-Fi connected intercom system. Echo Connect will release on December 13. How it works:

Connect your home phone to your compatible Echo device to call any phone number, using just your voice. Echo Connect uses your existing home phone service to make and receive calls, including 911 and international numbers (carrier charges may apply). Easily sync all your contacts. Alexa syncs with your mobile phone contacts, so you never have to look up a number. Just ask and Alexa will make the call. Simply plug Echo Connect in to your home phone jack, complete set up in the Alexa App, and you’re ready to make and receive calls on your compatible Echo devices.

Amazon announced Echo “buttons.” The buttons are lighted buttons that work with Alexa game skills – like a gameshow buzzer – and will sell for $20 a pair.

Amazon announced the Echo Plus. The Plus is a smart home hub that will come with a Phillips Hue lightbulb and ZigBee built in and costs $150. The Plus has the same design as the original Echo speaker. New features over the original Echo:

Improved speakers with Dolby processing deliver crisp vocals and extended bass to fill the room with immersive, 360° audio. With seven microphones, beamforming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo hears you from any direction—even while music is playing. Alexa can control your compatible smart lights, thermostats, locks, garage doors, sprinklers, and more. Set up devices from Philips Hue, GE, Kwikset, and others without the need for a separate hub. Just ask Alexa to discover your connected devices.

A new Fire TV option with 4K was also announced. Here’s the specs for the new device (which will cost $70):

  • 4K UHD, HDR
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Up to 2160p @ 60 fps
  • 1.5 Ghz Quad-core processor
  • Alexa Voice Remote included
  • Dolby Atmos
  • Tens of thousands of Apps and Alexa Skills
  • Over 500,000 TV episodes & movies

 

Amazon will bundle the Fire TV sticks (old and new) for the following prices:

  • Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick – $60
  • Echo Dot and Fire TV – $80

 

Amazon announced Echo Spot. Echo Spot is a bedside clock with Alexa functionality built in. The round face is small, but delivers the same type of on-screen activity as the Echo Show. The Echo Spot will retail at $130 and be available on December 19, 2017.

Echo Spot is designed to fit anywhere in your home. Use 2nd generation far-field voice recognition to watch video flash briefings, see music lyrics, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, browse and listen to Audible audiobooks, and more. All hands-free—just ask. Ask Alexa to turn on your lights, show baby monitors and front door cameras, and lock your doors. Plus, control your thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, and more. Call anyone hands-free, or make video calls to family and friends with an Echo Spot, Echo Show, or the Alexa App. Instantly connect to other Echo devices around your home.

Other news…

Echo devices will soon have upgraded functionality that will allow the devices to make free calls to landline phones in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The company also announced that BMW will be integrating Alexa directly into its upcoming cars. Echo Show is now available in the UK and Germany.

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Product links to follow.


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