In a new-product launch announced last-minute, Amazon has unveiled new and upgraded devices to compete against Apple and Google.
The company’s flagship home-assistant/speaker, the Echo, has been upgraded with “improved sound” and a new, smaller design. The Echo’s price has dropped to $100 from nearly double that, Amazon said. Launched in 2014, the Echo contains Amazon’s “Alexa” virtual assistant.
The new Echo can be pre-ordered, with shipping to start next month, Amazon said.
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To prod consumers into buying into the problem-plagued “internet of things” that connects users’ computing devices to “smart-home” devices and appliances, Amazon is offering a free “smart” lightbulb with the upgraded $150 “Echo Plus” virtual assistant that now features a built-in hub for operating smart-home devices.
Amazon gave the Echo Plus “more powerful audio,” the firm said.
“You can play music from Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more,” according to company promotional material.
With the Echo Plus, Amazon is “trying to make these gadgets, which have typically been adopted by a nerdier crowd, much easier to set up and install,” tech website The Verge reported Sept. 27.
“To do that, Amazon says you’ll be able to ask the Plus to discover nearby devices, and it’ll start looking across … three … wireless standards, theoretically making it really easy to get new products hooked up to Alexa.”
That device is available for pre-order, with shipping to start next month, Amazon said.
Photo: Amazon’s new ‘Echo Spot’ (courtesy of Amazon)
Tags: Alexa, amazon, Echo, Echo Connect, Echo Plus, Echo Spot, fire tv, hardware, launch, Spot, unveil, virtual assistant
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