Amazon likes to throw caution to the wind more often than not. The company’s 2018 hardware event was perfect evidence when it unveiled an absolute ton of new products that went up for sale just in time for the holidays. This year, Amazon did the same thing, and as a result, we got five new Echo speakers.
Instead of a ton of different articles covering them all, I’ve done my best to break down each product below in the briefest way I could. Enjoy, folks.
Classic Echo Gets Better Audio and an Updated Look
First up is the “all-new” Echo. It’s Amazon’s flagship smart home speaker, and surprisingly enough, the company didn’t spend very much time on it during its event. I guess it’s because the update is pretty concise: it comes in a new fabric finish with fresh colors and the same audio components as the 2018 Echo Plus, including a 3-inch woofer and stronger bass.
Echo Dot Gets a Timely Update (pun definitely intended)
Everyone’s favorite miniature Echo speaker, the Echo Dot, is also getting a relatively minor update today. It now comes with an option for a digital clock which displays the time using LEDs along a section of the device’s fabric-coated body. This model costs $59.99, goes up for pre-order today, and will start shipping October 16th.
Echo Show 8 Works with the Food Network
People seem to love their Echo Shows, even though they don’t get a digital picture frame powered by Google Photos or video streaming via YouTube. Whatever the reason, people like the Echo Show, and Amazon has a new model to place in your home.
Called the Echo Show 8, the device features an 8-inch HD display, “powerful audio,” and a webcam with a physical shutter. It does all the stuff you’ve come to expect from an Echo Show at this point, but it also does something new. It can integrate with your Food Network Kitchen subscription to show you cooking tutorials, live cooking segmants, and more.
What is Food Network Kitchen, you may ask? It’s the Food Network’s new subscription service that gives you a selection of content from FN’s library of cooking shows, online courses, recipes, and more. It’s already stuff you can find elsewhere with your cable subscription or a standard web browser, all wrapped up in ine $7/month package.
Amazon announced during its event that Alexa is the exclusive voice partner for the Food Network, so your Kitchen subscription won’t work with Google’s Smart Displays. Variety says Amazon has a three-year deal with the famous foodie cable channel, so things could change after 36 months. But for the mean time, you’ll have to buy an Echo Show to take advantage of it in your smart… kitchen.
The new Echo Show 8 goes up for sale November 21st and is available for pre-order starting today. It’s priced at a somewhat reasonable $129.99. Food Network Kitchen, on the other hand, launches later this month on both iOS and Android for $7/month.
Echo Studio is an Alexa-Powered HomePod for Cheaper
Apple didn’t have very much success with its $249 HomePod, the company’s first smart speaker powered by Siri. It sounds great and works fine, but Siri is very restrictive in terms of what it can do, so the only perk left was the audio quality. Now, Amazon is coming along with an alternative to the HomePod called the Eco Studio that specializes in audio quality while sticking with Alexa as the voice assistant.
The Studio comes with five built-in directional speakers. It utilizes a 5.25-inch woofer, a 1-inch tweet, three 2-inch midrange speakers, a 24-bit DAC, and a power amplifier with 100 kHz of bandwidth. Altogether, the system operates on a maximum of 330W of power in order to support rich bass output and high-fidelity music playback through amazon Music HD.
Most interestingly (and most HomePod-esque) is how Echo Studio adapts to your home. According to amazon, the device can automatically sense the acoustics of the space you put it in and fine-tunes itself to deliver optimal sound. That’s basically the exact way the HomePod operates, so it should be interesting to see how good it sounds when it starts shipping.
In addition, Amazon says the speaker supports immersive 3D audio using Dolby Atmos and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio. You can also pair one or two Echo Studios to a Fire TV for audio playback with multi-channel sound ans upport for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Audio 5.1, and stereo audio.
Echo Flex Lets You Put Alexa Literally Anywhere (a.k.a. the Perfect Stocking-Stuffer)
Is there a wall outlet in a cramped room in your house where you wanna plug in an Amazon Echo speaker but don’t wanna trip over cords or take up counter space? The Echo Flex is here for you.
Amazon’s new $24.99 Echo Flex is a speaker that plugs into a typical wall outlet and sits flush with your wall. Connect it to your Wi-Fi and Amazon account and it converts a dumb room to a smart room by enabling Alexa. It even comes with a USB port so you can charge your phone and not worry about an entire outlet being taken up by a speaker.
Amazon is gonna sell a ton of these. Not only because it’s cheap, but it fits right inside a Christmas stocking.
Echo Flex goes on sale November 17th. You can pre-order it now.