Amazon Reimagines Echo Smart Speaker Family for 2020

September 29 2020, 01:35
Amazon.com introduced its all-new line-up of Echo devices, featuring completely new designs, enhanced audio, more powerful hardware, and experiences that make Alexa voice assistant more engaging, and helpful. Most of the new Amazon products will be available at the end of October 2020, and that includes an all-new Echo (4th Gen), now with better sound and integrated smart home hub; the new Echo Dot and Echo Dot Kids Edition featuring the new spherical designs and improved audio, and Echo Show 10, the smart speaker with screen.
 

Like it or not, Amazon Echo smart speakers are the leading smart speaker devices in the countries where they are available, selling into the millions per month, even if they don't generate much revenue, given its very affordable price. Compared to any other speaker category, in sheer quantity, Amazon Echos absolutely squash the market. And because these things don't necessarily seat on the shelves, Amazon updates the design completely every two years or so.

The new Echo 2020/2021 - the reference product in the range - is now a spherical design, with more space for drivers and generating better spherical dispersion, now supporting Dolby Stereo Sound (yes, its stereo!) and now featuring a built-in Zigbee Hub for smart home applications and support for Sidewalk Bridge - Amazon's own low-bandwidth IoT network to stretch smart home applications beyond Wi-Fi networks.

Leading the range, is the very interesting Echo Show 10 smart speaker with large color screen, which makes interacting with Alexa even more natural, particularly for people who tend to be on the passive side of interacting with voice assistants. Like Facebook Portal, the new Echo Show 10 follows people in the frame and the display moves with users, so they don't miss a moment of a show, the next step in a recipe, or the reaction from someone on a video call. The new devices are all powered by the all-new Amazon AZ1 Neural Edge processor, a custom-designed silicon module built to accelerate machine learning applications and make Alexa even faster. With the AZ1, powerful inference engines can run quickly on the edge — starting with an all-neural speech recognition model that will process requests faster, making Alexa even more responsive. Besides, all devices in the new Echo family are built with recycled materials, and will support Low Power Mode for energy savings.
 
The flagship next-generation Echo (www.amazon.com/Echo) combines the best of the former Echo and Echo Plus models into a single device at the same affordable Echo price. Its an all-new design and fabric finish, with a bright LED light ring at the base of the sphere that reflects off of surfaces for added visibility. The new Echo also sounds significantly better thanks to a 3-inch woofer, dual-firing tweeters, and Dolby processing that delivers stereo sound with improved dynamics. As with the Echo Studio model (the larger model that tries to compete with the Apple HomePod, which remains available only in the U.S., UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and Taiwan), the new Echo automatically senses the acoustics of the space where its placed and fine-tunes audio playback. Adaptive acoustic response was certainly the largest innovation of Apple's HomePod when it was released in 2018, and Amazon now implements it even in its mainstream Echo model.

"These are the best Echo devices we have ever made," says Tom Taylor, Senior Vice President, Amazon Alexa. "Echo and Echo Dot look beautiful and sound even better, and Echo Show 10 completely reimagines Alexa with a screen — the display moves with you, staying in view as you move around. It’s as natural as having a conversation. Plus, Alexa continues to get smarter — just ask to watch Netflix, make group calls, join video meetings on Zoom, upgrade your smart home with Alexa Guard and Amazon Sidewalk, and much more."
 

For the first time, the Amazon Echo comes with a built-in smart home hub, with support for Zigbee, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and Amazon Sidewalk. Amazon Sidewalk can help users set up new devices quickly, extend the working range of devices like Ring Smart Lighting that may be beyond the range of home WiFi, and offer new support for devices like Tile to locate misplaced items. 
Amazon customers have made Echo Dot (www.amazon.com/EchoDot) the best-selling speaker ever — and now it’s also improved. The all-new Echo Dot has the same spherical design and fabric finish as the Echo, but it’s compact, while still packing in a powerful 1.6-inch, front-firing speaker, able to produce crisp vocals and balanced bass. Certainly much better than the original hockey puck Echo Dot.
 

The new Echo Dot with clock, already the best-selling clock on Amazon.com, comes with the same enhancements as the new Echo Dot, plus a simple LED display so users can glance at the time, temperature, timers, and alarms - ideal for bedtime tables. And now, the tap-to-snooze feature that users love on Echo Dot with clock will also be available on Echo Dot and Echo.
 

The all-new Echo Dot Kids Edition builds on the new spherical design with fun, colorful Panda and Tiger prints. Alexa’s custom-built kids experience means kids can ask Alexa questions, set animal sound alarms, get help with homework, and call approved friends and family, with extensive controls that give parents peace of mind. Parents will also be able to create Alexa voice profiles for their kids, so Alexa automatically shifts to a kid’s profile when she recognizes a kid’s voice — extending the kids experience, and parental controls, to any Echo device in the house. Kids can also enjoy a new Alexa feature called Reading Sidekick. Alexa can help kids build fluency and foster a love for reading when simply saying, “Alexa, let’s read.” Alexa will take turns reading with children, providing encouragement when they are reading well and offering support when they struggle. This is because Echo Dot Kids Edition come with a 1-year Amazon Kids+ subscription, giving families access to thousands of hours of kid-friendly Audible books, interactive games, and educational skills.
 

Finally, the all-new Echo Show 10 (www.amazon.com/EchoShow10) is a complete reimagination of Alexa with a screen and has been upgraded in every way. It features a 10-inch, adaptive HD display that automatically stays in view when users interact with Alexa — no matter where they are in the room. Plus, the new brushless motor is completely silent, meaning users won’t hear a thing as Echo Show 10 rotates. With these features, users can ask Alexa to make a video call without worrying about being out of frame — as they move, the screen does too, and the new 13-megapixel, wide-angle camera pans and zooms to keep people at the center of the frame. Later in 2020, Echo Show devices will also support Zoom and Amazon Chime video conferencing.

As Echo Show 10 moves, so does its dual, front-firing tweeters and powerful woofer, providing directional sound that automatically adapts to the acoustics, making it great for music, videos, and more. Echo Show 10 will also rotate as users watch the news or TV shows, with support for several streaming content services, including Netflix.
 

Of course, Echo Show 10 also uses advanced computer vision algorithms to help with home security, connected with other Amazon security solutions. Echo Show 10 also uses AZ1 to process speech faster and make Alexa more responsive. Plus, its built-in smart home capabilities include support for Zigbee, BLE, and Amazon Sidewalk. As with all Alexa-enabled devices, Echo Show 10 uses a fusion of audio-based localization and computer vision processed locally and securely on-device. And users can turn motion off at any time by sliding the built-in camera shutter closed, adjusting settings on-device or in the Alexa app, or just by saying, “Alexa, turn off motion.”

According to Amazon, all these new Echo devices are built with 100% post-consumer recycled fabric, 100% recycled die-cast aluminum, and post-consumer recycled plastic. Plus, all wood fiber-based materials used in Echo device packaging are made entirely from responsibly managed forests or recycled sources. In addition to using sustainable materials, these Echo devices also have a Low Power Mode to intelligently conserve energy during periods of inactivity and deliver energy savings over the lifetime of the device.

The new Echo ($99.99) and Echo Dot ($49.99) smart speakers will be available in Charcoal, Glacier White, and Twilight Blue. Echo Dot with clock ($59.99) will be available in Glacier White and Twilight Blue. Echo Dot Kids Edition ($59.99) will be available in Panda and Tiger animal designs. All devices are scheduled to start shipping from October 2020 onwards.

The all-new Echo Show 10 ($249.99) will be available in Charcoal and Glacier White, and will start shipping before the holidays. 
www.amazon.com
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