Amazon introduced the Echo a few years back and kick-started the smart speaker craze. Since then our lives have been made infinitely easier through the voice-assisted automation of our homes. The online retail and tech giant didn’t stop there, though, offering a gaggle more of Alexa-powered speakers at varying prices, including Echo Plus. Right now, the second-gen Echo in a Limited-Edition Walnut Finish and refurbished first-gen Echo Plus speakers are available on Amazon at huge discounted prices.
When we first encountered Echo back in 2015, we were initially skeptical and rightfully creeped out by this device that seemingly came out of some sci-fi movie. Was this just some fad that will eventually be forgotten, or was it here to stay? Turns out, it was the latter, and now we have the second generation of the Echo. Echo 2.0 is smaller and cuter yet still cylindrical, 5.8 inches tall and 3.4 inches in diameter. It comes in either cloth covers or sleek finishes (this particular deal is offering the Echo in a beautiful, limited edition walnut finish). It has four buttons; two for adjusting the volume up or down, one for action, and one to turn off the microphone.
All Echo models are outfitted with Dolby speaker technology. The Echo, specifically, boasts a 2.5-inch woofer for a full bass sound and a 0.6-inch tweeter for clear treble. It now supports multiroom audio, meaning you can play a certain track in the kitchen while your family listens to something completely different in the living room. This is not an audiophile-grade speaker though. If you want next-level sound, you can hook up the Echo to a third-party audio system via the 3.5mm audio jack.
Setting it up is easy. Just plug it into the wall, and then you’ll hear Alexa say, “Hello, your Amazon Echo is ready for setup. Just follow the instructions in the Amazon Alexa app.” Once configured and connected to your Wi-Fi network, you can order Alexa to do almost anything, like add items on your shopping list, make a phone call, or play your favorite songs. Unfortunately, Echo cannot control any of your smart home devices. You’ll have to buy a bridge like the Wink to have this additional functionality.
The Echo normally retails for $120, but right now you can get it on Amazon for a whopping 42% less. Get it for the incredibly low price of $70.
The first generation of the Echo Plus is cylindrical just like the Echo, although it is taller and slimmer. It comes in either black, white, or silver. Inside are seven embedded microphones, and on the outside, you’ll find a volume dial around the rim, the signature blue ring of light on top, and a couple of buttons for action and muting Alexa’s mic.
The Echo Plus is a speaker and a smart hub in one, meaning you don’t have to purchase a bridge for it to control your smart home devices, unlike the Echo. Once you’ve connected it to your home Wi-Fi network, you can order it to connect with all your Zigbee-compatible smart home devices by simply saying, “Alexa, discover my devices.” Pretty soon you’ll be able to turn lights on and off, switch channels on your smart TV, and basically do everything Alexa is capable of doing completely hands-free. And with the new and improved Far-Field voice recognition (something the Echo also has), this smart speaker will have no difficulty hearing you even from afar.
As a music player, the Echo Plus is adequate. You may tap your toes, but you definitely won’t be banging your head to it. It’s best to connect it with a larger speaker or audio system through the 3.5mm audio output jack.
The Echo Plus usually comes with a $130 price tag, but with Amazon’s staggering 46% discount, you can get a refurbished unit for only $70.
Both the Echo and Echo Plus are great Alexa-powered smart speakers. The difference between them is that the Echo Plus works as a smart hub as well for controlling your smart home devices. However, it’s refurbished and not brand new, unlike the Echo. They’re capable of doing almost anything except tying your shoelaces. Hopefully, the next update will fix that. Get them for just $70 on Amazon today.
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