Four new devices are joining Amazon’s Echo universe

The Amazon Echo universe is expanding again. In the face of a deep roster of smart home speakers from competitors, Amazon is stepping up to the plate and taking on the challenge. In September, the company announced a series of new products including a new Amazon Echo, an Amazon Echo Plus, a brand new device called the Echo Connect, an alarm clock-like device called as the Echo Spot, and Echo buttons geared towards gamers that will sell for $20 a pair. Amazon also announced a new Fire TV as well as an Alexa integration with BMW cars coming in 2018.

Amazon Echo Second Generation

First up, the new and improved Amazon Echo(read our complete Echo 2017 review for all the details). The second-generation smart speaker comes with a dedicated bass tweeter and a rather unfamiliar design. About half the size of its older sibling, this new Echo has different shells to choose from, including charcoal, sandstone, heather gray, oak veneer, walnut veneer, and silver — perhaps showing the influence of Google Home and its fabric base. At $99, it’s slightly cheaper than the original Echo, which retails at $129. Apparently, shaving off some height also meant a lower price tag. Amazon says the device features better wake word processing and enhanced noise cancellation. (Here’s a complete look at how the Echo and Echo Plus compare.)

Additionally, Amazon is offering the second-generation Echo in a three-pack, which allows for multi-room audio. If you purchase in multiples of three, you’ll save 50 percent, as each device will cost just $50.

It’s no wonder that Amazon is now focusing on multi-room audio. It recently announced that its Echo devices would support music playback across a number of rooms, and being able to stream content to multiple devices has been a long-standing request among users. The new Echo is available now and will begin shipping next month.

Amazon

Amazon Echo Plus

As for the Echo Plus, as the name suggests, it’s quite a big taller (and thinner) than the second generation Echo. The device promises to be an easy-to-use smart home hub (it comes with Zigbee built in) that can compete more directly with Google Home and the Apple AirPod. As soon as you take the Echo Plus out of the box, it’ll start finding connected devices, like the Philips Hue smart bulb that comes with every order. Amazon Alexa will automatically name these devices too for easier setup. Just say, “Alexa, discover my devices,” and Echo Plus will automatically discover and set up compatible lights, locks, plugs, switches, and more without the need for additional hubs or apps.

The Echo Plus starts at $150. Pre-order here and get one next month.

Amazon

Amazon Echo Connect

Then, there’s the $35 Echo Connect. This will allow you to make phone calls using Amazon’s Alexa. Think of it as a 21st century landline. In essence, it’ll allow you to make phone calls through your Echo by way of your phone number. That means that you’ll be able to tell Alexa to call someone, or have Alexa tell you who’s calling. While you could previously have one Echo call another Echo, this is the first time that you can actually dial a phone number. Plus, you’ll be able to call 911, the most important number of all. The Echo Connect is slated to ship sometime in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Amazon

Amazon Echo Spot

Finally, there’s the Echo Spot, a tiny little futuristic-looking thing with a 2.5-inch circular display. The Spot looks like a modern alarm clock. Effectively a miniaturized Echo Show, the Spot will allow you to watch video content and even take video calls, though the screen is a bit too small to be comfortable. You can preorder the Spot now for $130, and shipment in the United States is currently confirmed to arrive by December 22. However, this wasn’t made official until quite recently, given a recent mixup in terms of dates. Folks who pre-ordered the Amazon alarm clock were notified via email that “unfortunately, the release date for the item listed below has changed,” and were then given a new delivery estimate. However, the Echo Spot website maintained the original December 19 release date.

To make things more confusing, the Twitter account for Amazon’s customer support team informed folks that their Echo Spots would arrive on December 24, and when the TechCrunch team attempted to preorder an Echo Spot themselves, the order was rejected altogether. Luckily, it appears this issue has been resolved. Amazon noted that the original emails suggesting shipment delays were sent in error, stating, “The emails sent to customers claiming Echo Spot would be delivered on December 25 or later are inaccurate. We can confirm all customers who have ordered an Echo Spot to date will receive their order no later than December 22, before Christmas. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Amazon

Update: Despite an email mixup, rest assured that if you preordered the Echo Spot, you’ll receive it by December 22. 

Smart Home

SiriusXM, Amazon team up for two Echo Dot deals with freebies

Amazon and SiriusXM partnered on two joint promotions. New SiriusXM subscribers can receive a free Amazon Echo Dot. People who already own an Echo device can sign up for new SiriusXM subscription with the first three months free.
Smart Home

Amazon has an even dozen new smart devices. Here’s how to order

Amazon's hardware announcement meant a whole bunch of new Amazon Alexa gadgets. From a microwave to stereo equipment, here is the complete list of devices that were announced, as well as reviews for some.
Smart Home

Second-gen vs. third-gen Echo Dot: What’s the difference?

Amazon's third-generation Echo Dot was just released. Is it worth upgrading your second-generation Echo Dot? Here, we take a closer look at the two devices to see how much Amazon has improved its flagship Alexa voice assistant smart…
Smart Home

Amazon Echo vs. Echo Plus: Which should you get?

If you're trying to choose between the Amazon Echo or the Echo Plus, then this guide is for you. It compares the two Alexa-enabled speakers in cost, size, looks, functionality, and more.
Smart Home

Add some nature to your tech with Mui, a wood panel that’s also a smart display

Are you so immersed in technology that you long for a touch of nature in your home? You could get some potted plants -- or you could invest in Mui, a wood panel that is also an internet-connected smart display.
Smart Home

One in 10 smart home device owners report unresolved technical problems

According to a recent survey from Parks Associates, more than one in 10 consumers report they have experienced technical errors with their connected devices that have yet to be resolved.
Smart Home

New Nuimo Click gives one-touch control over smart home devices

Berlin-based technology company Senic has announced the Nuimo Click, a smart switch that harvests kinetic energy to power itself without the need for cables or batteries. The Nuimo Click will begin shipping in December.
Emerging Tech

A Fitbit for your cat shit: Automatic litter box tracks your kitty’s health

It may look like a sci-fi teleportation chamber, but Footloose is a high-tech litter box that promises to be the most cutting-edge way for your kitty to take a dump. Here's how it works.
Smart Home

Angee’s security service switches from sales to subscriptions

Angee, a successful startup that raised nearly half a million dollars for its home security hub, has pivoted its business model to offer its home security platform as a subscription rather than a smart home product.
Emerging Tech

This 3D-printed house made of earth and rice husks costs less than an iPhone

Italian 3D-printing company WASP has just demonstrated the 3D printing of a hut structure using a combination of 3D-printed concrete and a mud-based material. All for around $1,000.
Deals

Protect yourself from germs with a discounted GermGuardian air purifier

Cold and flu season has arrived, and with it, all those nasty germs. If you're looking to protect yourself from airborne illnesses, this deeply discounted air purifier can help reduce germs, mold spores, and viruses lurking in the air.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Smart Home

The best treadmills of 2018

The exercise of running can burn up to 900 calories per hour, melting away fat and strengthening your muscles at the same time.  Compared to running outdoors, you're safer staying indoors on a cushioned track.
Smart Home

If you're not sipping beer while a robot mows your lawn, you're doing it wrong

Imagine watching your lawn being mowed by a robot while you sit on the porch drinking a beer. That’s life with Husqvarna’s line of electric Automowers, which takes the gas and the manpower out of one dreaded aspect of yard work.