Amazon assembled hand-picked media for an intimate unveiling of its next-generation of Echo and Fire TV devices at its new campus in Seattle.
In a press conference that moved at break-neck speed, the company unveiled a new Echo, the Echo Plus, the Echo Spot, a new Fire TV, the Echo Buttons, Echo Connect, as well as making a whole range of announcements about availability of some of its other devices and services.
Gird your loins, there's a lot to catch-up on.
- Amazon Echo Plus is your superior Alexa-powered smart home controller
- Amazon just launched an all-new Echo speaker that you can buy now
- Whoa! Amazon's new Echo Spot is an Echo Dot-sized Echo Show
- New Amazon Fire TV announced, with 4K HDR, Dolby Atmos and more
- Amazon Echo Buttons will take your Jeopardy game to the next level
- Amazon Echo Connect turns your landline into an Alexa-enabled space-age phone
- Amazon Echo Show is launching in UK and Germany, order today for £199
- Amazon Alexa Calling and Messaging is coming to the UK, soon
Amazon Echo Plus
Amazon Echo Plus is now top of the Echo tree. It looks like the original Echo - a tall cylinder - but this is now a much more enhanced speaker according to Amazon, so should address those criticisms of the original Echo speaker - that it wasn't a great speaker.
Echo Plus has all the Alexa skills you know and love, but it's evolved to be a much more capable smart home controller, using ZigBee. This means it can natively control other devices without using apps or skills, so it should reduce the setup process. Put clearly, Echo Plus can directly control your Philips Hue lights without you needing to mess around with the Alexa app or the Hue app like you had to before.
To prove this point, every Echo Plus will come with a Hue White bulb to get you started. It's available from today and will cost £139.
The Amazon Echo is dead. Long live the Amazon Echo. That's right, Amazon has retired the original Echo model and replaced it with a new connected Alexa speaker that's smaller, Dolby tuned, offering better sound quality with a range of different finishes for a nicer, more contemporary look.
The all-new Echo offers the same Alexa power as it did before, serving as the centre of the universe, but being better designed to fit into your kitchen with those six swappable shells. It's very much realigning itself as a competitor to Google Home, but Amazon is also talking up the sound quality.
The best bit is that the price has been dropped to just £89. That's pretty good going, considering the last generation cost £150.
Amazon Echo Spot
What, wait. There's more? You betcha.
The Amazon Echo Spot is what you'd get if you cross the Echo Show with the Echo Dot. Yes, it's a compact Echo to sit beside your bed, giving you that homely snuggle of Alexa comfort with a touchscreen to make it useful. It basically offers the same functions as the Echo Show but in a much smaller form factor. You can use it for video calls, playing music, connecting to your Bluetooth speakers or via line-out.
Or you can just use Alexa to set alarms, feed you information and all while looking adorably cute. The Amazon Echo Spot will be available in the US in December for $130 and it will be coming to the UK in 2018. Darn it, the US gets all the good stuff first.
Pre-order the Echo Spot on Amazon US.
Amazon Fire TV 4K
Echo updates are just the starter, as Amazon has also given Fire TV super powers. There's a new Fire TV that's 4K HDR enabled and it also supports Dolby Atmos. The design is like a square Chromecast, designed to sit behind your TV plugged into an HDMI, feeding your TV with rich content from Amazon video and other services, like Netflix.
Fire TV has a proper user interface, however, so it's slightly more approachable than Google's Chromecast, while not being a flabby as the new Apple TV 4K. The 4K streaming race is on, but with the new Fire TV costing £69.99, we get a feeling that it's a foregone conclusion who is going to win.
Amazon Echo Buttons
Yes, Amazon has wandered off the reservation with Echo Buttons. These are gaming accessories for your Echo which connect via Bluetooth, bringing a level of interactivity to your device. Yes, you'll be able to play games with Alexa.
The Echo Buttons will mean that you have a physical connection, something to hit, rather than everything relying on turns and voices. The idea will be that games are offered up for you to play and yes, Trivial Pursuit is coming from Hasbro. The best thing is that Echo Buttons will only cost £19 a pair, so an easy Christmas gift idea.
Amazon Echo Connect
Let's change pace a little. The Amazon Echo Connect is a box that will essentially kill your landline phone and take you into the future. The Echo Connect can transform your landline into something that's Echo compatible, so you'll be able to place calls from your Echo devices via your landline, or simply take calls on your Echo device. Running for the phone? That's so 90s.
The Echo Connect will be launching in the US first and coming to the UK and Germany in 2018. It will cost $34.99. Killing your landline really isn't going to cost much at all.
Pre-order the Echo Connect on Amazon US.
Amazon Echo Show
Moving onto availability updates, Amazon is bringing the Echo Show - that's the Echo with a 7-inch screen - to the UK and to Germany. This is exactly the same as the Echo Show that's been available in the US for a couple of months.
To support the Show, Amazon has also confirmed that we're getting Calling and Messaging this side of the Atlantic. That will mean you can call people from your Echo on their Echo, meaning that Show uses can get video calling, with voice available on the regular Echo.
Pre-oder the Echo Show on Amazon UK.