AMAZON HAS taken the covers off its new Echo and Alexa range and against all expectation, much of the range will be coming to the UK from the outset. But it looks like we've been diddled out of the microwave.
At entry level, the Echo Dot (£49.99) has been given a redesign with some familiar-looking material covering replacing the plastic of the first two models. In fact, it looks so much like the Google Home Mini, you could almost mistake it for a homage. The sound has been improved, which is a relief because it was pants before but don't forget it can sync up to your Bluetooth speaker anyway.
The Echo Plus (£139.99) has also had the hessian treatment. This is the one, you may remember, that has Zigbee built in so it can act as a home hub for devices that would otherwise need a separate hub. There's also a built-in temperature sensor, which will act as a wingman to your thermostat. Especially useful if you don't have smart radiator valves, like those offered by the likes of Tado.
The Echo Show (£219.99) has had the biggest revamp. For a start, it's a lot less fugly than its predecessor, and it has the option of a ten-inch screen instead of the seven-inch version. In fact, it looks like a baby telly. Which makes sense as this version will be able to beam your TV signal if you want to equip a room without one, like the kitchen perhaps.
One of the neat additions, though not available at launch, is a deal to bring Skype to the Echo range and that will really come into its own with a screen. It will also be able to sync up with Ring, the security system it bought last year for a rumoured $1bn, to show you who is at the door.
Speaking of Ring, an updated version of the "stick up camera" is also new, the first time something from Ring has been announced within an Amazon event.
The Echo Sub is a 100w speaker designed to give 100w of "oomph" to the Echo and Echo Plus. It can be synced with two Echos to create a 2.1 stereo system. It's a beefy beast, but adding up the cost of two Echo devices and the sub, it starts to be a very expensive way to make a home sound system.
The Echo Smart Plug (£24.99) was spotted via a holding page a few days ago, suggesting it was going to cost nearly a hundred quid. It isn't of course, but even at £25, there are cheaper alternatives already available if you want to make an existing "dumb" device controllable with Alexa.
Echo Input (£35) is a dongle that allows you to turn any speaker into an Alexa speaker. The microphones are there, but there's no speaker, which is sort of the point. Two more devices - the Echo Link and Echo Amp do a similar job for your existing hi-fi system, replacing your amp
Also US-only is Echo Auto, a dashboard sitting device that will make your car smart where it wasn't before. There's a wall clock that can flick between the time and countdowns and, yes, the rumours were true - there's a bloody microwave. There are no UK dates for any of these though.
It does seem that Amazon is upping the ante on the Alexa ecosystem. It is currently well in the lead against Siri and Cortana, but has lost ground to Google which is shovelling products out the door like no one's business.
All the UK products are on pre-order now and will be delivered on 11 October 11th they'll also hit retailers. μ
Another fine mesh
But, er, it'll be available in pink
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