Amazon made a few big announcements today, all in the name of expanding its smart home market dominance. The company revealed the new Echo Pop, a third-generation Echo Show 5, and revamped Echo Buds in a press release (and out of the blue, in typical Amazon fashion). Each device has a price that’s generally considered affordable nowadays, which signals the company’s deep desire to add Alexa to even more places in your home and daily lifestyle.
The biggest announcement is the Echo Pop. Priced at $39.99, it’s Amazon’s new entry-level Echo speaker and is replacing the spherical Echo Dot. The Echo Pop has a new semi-sphere design that’s pretty different from what we’re used to seeing from Echo devices, but makes plenty of sense given the direction of its speaker.
Amazon says the new custom-designed front-facing directional speaker will deliver “full sound” for smaller rooms in your home. It’ll also likely have better sound quality than the older Echo Dot given its positioning.
The Echo Pop is powered by Amazon’s AZ2 Neural Edge processor, which will give it better perofrmance than previous Echos. In addition, it works with both Eero devices and those equipped with Matter, the new universal smart home standard.
It comes in a few color options: Charcoal, Glacier White, Lavendar Bloom, and Midnight Teal. The latter is my personal favorite, although I can definitely see a lot of people option for the Lavendar Bloom.
Then there’s the third-generation Echo Show 5 which, after two years, is finally here. It’s not much different than the second generation, mind you–Amazon isn’t redesigning it like it did the Echo Pop. Instead, it’s giving the smart display 20 percent better performance than the previous version, as well as richer sound quality with deeper bass. The microphones have also been reengineered for improved voice pickup, and there’s an AZ2 chip.
Like the Echo Pop, it too works with Eero and Matter devices. There’s also a new Echo Show 5 Kids edition with a galaxy-themed speaker, special parental controls, and a two-year warranty. The standard Echo Show 5 is $89.99, while the Kids edition is $99.99. A special stand for the device is also available for $26.99, which bundles an extra USB-C port for convenient charging.
Finally, there’s the new Echo Buds. They’re not replacing the existing Echo Buds; instead, Amazon is positioning them as a lower-end option. The new buds don’t come with active noise cancellation or wireless charging, and their design is a lot clunkier than the sleek and minimal Echo Buds with Active Noise Cancellation. At $49.99 (or $39.99 at launch), they’re fairly priced, but you do give up a number of features for it.
There are 12mm drivers that deliver “rich sound and balanced bass,” according to Amazon, as well as twin mics and a voice detection accelerometer to help highlight your voice against any background noise. You also get multi-device pairing, which is nice to see, and up to 20 hours of battery life (five hours on a full charge, an extra 15 hours with the case). And of course, they support full Alexa integration.
You have tap controls on each earbud for controlling music playback and answering phone calls, sweat resistance for working out (although there’s no mention of an IP rating), and silicone eartips for comfort. They only come in one color, and that color is Black. I will say, if these came in white, they’d look pretty obnoxious in anyone’s ears, so maybe it’s a good thing Amazon went for a sleeker aesthetic in the color department.
All of these devices come as Amazon’s position in the smart home hardware market is questioned. Rumors have suggested that Alexa has become a losing business for the company, with losses exceeding $5 billion in some years. However, the company told The Verge that everyone’s going well, or at least as well as it can be.
Whether there’s need to worry about Amazon’s hardware and Alexa divisions is a mystery, but judging by the company’s announcements today, it seems that they’re doing just fine.
The Echo Pop and new Show 5 go on sale May 31, while the Echo Buds launch June 7. All three devices are available for preorder now.
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