Yes, it's that time of the year again. The time when the unchallenged leader of the smart speaker market
sets out to consolidate its global industry domination by upgrading and expanding the already hugely popular, impressively powerful, and incredibly extensive Echo-branded product portfolio.
Say what you will about the e-commerce giant, but this is definitely one company that's not afraid to take a risk and start from scratch when preparing a revised version of a massively successful product. The original Echo, remember, was shaped like a tall and thin cylinder, which got significantly shorter and chunkier in its second incarnation before transforming into a sphere for 2020's fourth edition.
No need for an Echo Plus anymore
Priced at the exact same $99.99 as its predecessor, the spherical new Echo actually hides an even more important change under its hood than the radical redesign, combining all the best features of the third-gen model with the key
only selling point of the second-gen Echo Plus
, which used to cost $150.
Unsurprisingly, said "Plus" smart speaker is no longer available on Amazon, with the "all-new" Echo going up for pre-order already ahead of a proper commercial release on October 22 with built-in smart home hub capabilities.
Basically, if you don't need a screen, this thing can do it all in exchange for a single Benjamin, controlling not just your audio entertainment, news briefings, and daily schedule, but also your (compatible) lights, plugs, locks, and sensors. Incredibly enough, you get an improved 3-inch woofer and dual-firing tweeters as well for an upgraded music listening experience.
'Full' sound in a tiny, stylish body
Just like the fourth-gen Echo, the fourth-gen Echo Dot rocks an entirely new spherical design with a smooth fabric finish, and just like the third-gen Echo Dot, this pint-sized smart speaker costs $49.99 and up, shipping on October 22 after today's pre-order start.
Although Amazon appears to be touting the "powerful" 1.6-inch front-firing speaker capable of delivering "crisp vocals and balanced bass for full sound you can enjoy in any room of your home" as a major new selling point, the spec sheet is virtually unchanged from what last year's Echo Dot had going for it. Curiously enough, the redesigned model is actually heavier than its predecessor, but it's not like you're going to carry this device around on your travels anyway.
The same goes for the new $59.99 Echo Dot with clock and $59.99 Echo Dot Kids Edition, the latter of which stands out with playful Panda and Tiger prints aiming to both catch the eyes of your little ones in an original way and better blend in with your children's room decor.
A rotating screen with Netflix and Zoom support (coming soon)
Because it was obviously a tad harder to make a spherical smart display, Amazon essentially borrowed the design of the Google Nest Hub Max
and the marquee feature from Facebook's Portal lineup
for the third-gen Echo Show 10.
The end result has almost nothing in common with the second-gen 10-inch smart display
, slapping a huge speaker with a pair of front-firing 1-inch tweeters and a truly powerful 3-inch woofer behind an "adaptive" HD screen that quietly rotates to always keep you in the frame when video calling friends or family and even when watching the news, TV shows, or movies.
Speaking of shows and movies, Amazon plans to catch up to Google
... sometime soon with native Netflix integration on the all-new Echo Show 10 expanding a list of streaming partners including Hulu, Spotify, and Apple Music at launch.
The third-gen Echo Show 10 will also get official Zoom support "later this year", just like the Google Nest Hub Max and Facebook Portal family, with Amazon trying to trump its competition in the optics department thanks to a 13MP wide-angle camera that uses auto-framing technology to pan and zoom, always keeping you and your loved ones front and center during video calls.
Despite all of these impressive enhancements, Amazon's latest jumbo-sized smart display is a measly 20 bucks pricier than its forerunner, at $249.99. Unfortunately, you can't order this upgraded giant yet, and its manufacturers are only willing to commit to a vague release "in time for the holidays."