Amazon introduced three new version of its Echo smart speaker as well as a revamped Fire TV and a range of accessories at a press event in Seattle Wednesday. With speakers at multiple price ranges and a number of packaged deals, the company seemed to be keen to get its voice assistant everywhere.
Staple of the line-up was clearly the company’s new base model Echo, which sells for just $99. The device is sticking to its signature cylinder shape, albeit a bit less tall, and with a grey fabric exterior. Customers will be able to buy additional shells to customize the device, and Amazon will sell a three-pack of Echoes for $249.
The new Echo is being complemented by a tricked-out version of the original Echo, which is now being called the Echo Plus. Now selling at $150, the Echo Plus includes a smart home hub to work with internet-connected light bulbs and other smart devices around the house. Previously, consumers could control some of these devices with their Echo, but had to add an additional hub device for any bulbs that weren’t using Wifi as their networking protocol. Amazon is including a Philips Hue light bulb in the $150 price to get consumers started with their smart home.
Then there is the Echo Spot, a small, alarm-clock-like version of the Echo that comes with a circular screen. Priced at $130, the device is designed to sit in the bedroom and can best be described as a combination of the Echo Show and the Echo Dot.
But the company hasn’t forgotten about the living room either: Amazon also introduced a new $70 Fire TV model. The device comes with support for 4K video and HDR as well as Dolby Atmos. Many details of the Fire TV update had leaked before, including a form factor that’s somewhere between a HDMI stick and a square box.
Amazon also revealed that it is rolling out multi-room audio for its Echo speakers, making it possible to play the same music in a synchronized fashion on multiple Echo speakers. And the Echo will soon be able to make free calls to landline phones in the U.S., Canada and Mexico — a feature that Google recently added to its Google Home speaker as well.
However, Amazon is going one step further: Consumers can buy a $35 landline adapter dubbed the “Echo Connect” that makes it possible to make use of their landline phone number for outgoing calls, and also dial 911 — something that’s not possible with Wifi-only calling devices due to the missing ability for emergency responders to locate the caller.
A bit less practical is another accessory introduced by Amazon Wednesday: The company is now selling something it calls “Echo Buttons,” which look a bit like mini game show buttons, complete with colored LED lights. Consumers are supposed to use them to play games with the Echo, but they could conceivably also double as in-home alerts and more. A two-pack of the buttons will cost $20.
Notably absent from the flurry of announcements was the Fire Tv with integrated microphones that leaked recently. However, Amazon is looking to make up for this with multiple bundles designed to make sure that its microphones really are in every room: The company will sell a combination of Echo Dot and Fire TV will sell for $80. The company’s Fire TV stick and Echo Dot will sell together for $60.