(Pocket-lint) - Amazon is in the middle of holding a surprise press event in Seattle, where it has announced an all-new Echo.
The company started out its event by talking about how often Amazon's Alexa-enabled devices are used in the kitchen, specifically for timers and alarms. Amazon also said it has more than 5,000 people currently working on improving Alexa, its AI assistant. And from there, Amazon brought out the star of the show: a completely updated Echo speaker with a dedicated woofer and tweeter.
This all-new Echo is smaller, covered in a fabric shell, and features Dolby sound, as well as second-generation far-field microphones. (Remember, the first Echo had far-field microphones. Check out Pocket-lint's guide here on how Amazon's Echo devices differ from each other). From what we can tell, this new speaker is still called Echo, with Amazon just describing it as "all new".
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One of the major difference between this model and the original is quite clearly the design. The new one comes with six different finishes, including a wood one. We can't help but think of the Google Home and its swappable shells. Anyway, other features include multi-room audio as well as home-calling capabilities. Amazon said it will soon roll out calling numbers in the US, Canada, and Mexico.
Here's the thing: The new Echo will now allow you to receive calls and make them from your landline for free. It also works with a separate box that Amazon has also announced, the Echo Connect, which plugs into your landline jack and allows you to make calls from your landline number. See Pocket-lint's other piece here for more information on the Connect and when you can get it.
Amazon said you can already buy its all-new Echo. It costs $99 in the US or £89 in the UK and is available now. There's also a three pack you can buy at a $50 discount than if you were to buy them separately.