Alexa Expands The Echo Range

Submitted by Peter on Wed, 09/27/2017 - 22:35

Today has been a big day for announcements from Amazon.

Amazon Show

The Amazon Show has been out in the US now for some time. The Show has now been listed on the UK and German stores. A release date of November the 16th has been set however you can preorder.

Release Date: November 16th, 2017


What made me check this was due to seeing rumours that Amazon Voice calling was coming to the UK, however, no dates had been set. With the confirmed release of the show, it stands to reason that Voice calls will be released prior to or at the latest November 16th.

Amazon Echo

Some may have noticed that the Amazon Echo had been removed from the banners on the Amazon home pages. This is due to the Echo being revamped. The newly announced echo is around 2/3 the size and sports the same features however it does come with removable covers (1 of which is fabric).

Release Date: October 31st, 2017


Amazon Echo Plus

The Amazon Echo Plus is a brand new Echo. It is around the same size as the old Echo and sports a better tweeter than the Echo above however there is 1 main benefit to this iteration. The Echo itself supports the Zigbee standard. Why is this important? So far (as far as I am aware) no other main router or Voice Assistant currently supports the technology. Under usual circumstances, for example, to pair with Hue lights, you would need to use the Hue bridge. If you are using multiple different manufacturer devices you would need hubs for those other devices as well. Of course, there is the Smart things hub but with Hue lights, you generally needed to use the Hue hub regardless.

With Amazon's implementation, you can link the bulbs directly with the Echo Plus (in fact if you pre-order now you get a free build with the Plus).  An article on the developer blog is also suggesting that the Plus will work with other IoT devices as well. Not only does this reduce the need for extra hubs but it essentially also makes the Echo be more than simply a speaker that records commands and sends them to the Amazon Services.

Release Date: October 31st, 2017


Echo Connect

The Echo connect is a device that enables you to use your Echo device to make phone calls. You may think why if they already have voice calls and video calls. The voice and video call the Echo devices currently support are to other Echo devices. The Echo Connect allows you to make calls to landlines. This appears to be aimed at combating the fact the Google Home can already do this. Personally, however, I am not sure of the benefit of the Connect. Namely, because it appears it needs to be plugged into the phone socket whereas the Google Home does it through a VOIP system.

At present a release date has only been announced for the US however 2018 has been slated for other territories.

Release Date: December 13th, 2017

US ($35)

Echo Spot

Next, we have the Echo Spot. Unfortunately, the spot is currently the US only and is slated for an early 2018 release date in other territories. The Echo Spot reminds of the Show (basically as it has a screen) however at a much-reduced cost ($80 less). For those that would like to do video calling but baulked at the price of the Show, this might be a good alternative to look at. Unlike the show it also has the ability to connect to external speakers using 3.5mm audio cable, the Show only supports Bluetooth.

  • US ($130)


Echo Buttons

Echo buttons are a new breed of the device which incorporates a new Gadgets SDK. These are intended to be used in gaming on the Echo (think buzzer games). The ability to link such devices should start opening a new breed of peripherals. At first, it appears to help facilitate gaming but this could open up a lot of possibilities. Developers will come up with ideas to use such SDK's in ways the original developers never conceived.

The price is currently slated at being $20/£20 but no release date has been set as of yet. The product page does suggest it will be by Christmas so expect an early December release.