E-commerce giant Amazon unveiled a new series of Amazon Echo products featuring Alexa at its HQ in Seattle yesterday.
From Alexa's humble beginnings in the original Amazon Echo, you can now find the AI in a raft of new products from a smart microwave to an upgraded Echo Show device.
One of the interesting additions to the Echo line up is the Echo Input. This tiny 12.5mm tall device connects to a normal speaker through a 3.5mm audio cable or Bluetooth and features a four-microphone array to add Alexa’s smart capabilities to a standard device.
All normal audio is still played through the speaker, but the Input means you can interact with Alexa without adding a new speaker to your home. If you were initially sceptical of smart speakers, this is a fun way to try them out without fully committing.
The new device will be available in either black or white for £34.99, but you’ll have to wait for its release date later this year.
Here are all the other new Echo products Amazon announced last night.
New Amazon Echo: upgraded Dot, Plus and Show
Amazon has made some subtle changes to its entire Echo range.
The Echo Dot has undergone a change, with an updated fabric design, though it is still available in its familiar colours of charcoal, heather grey and sandstone, and a new speaker for a louder sound.
The Echo Plus, which was announced last year as a souped-up version of the original Echo, has also added an upgraded speaker to become the ultimate smart home hub.
As well, the Echo Show, Amazon’s smart speaker but with a screen, has enjoyed a redesign with a new 10-inch HD display.
The Dot and the Plus are available to pre-order now, whilst the Show can be purchased from today.
The new Echo companions
This isn’t all Amazon has been working on. As part of the launch, the company also unveiled some new companion and smart home devices to work alongside your normal Echo speaker.
For instance, there’s the Echo Sub: essentially a wireless subwoofer to add deep bass to any music playing on your Echo. It looks like this is Amazon’s move to take on the Google Home Max and the Apple HomePod by supercharging the Echo sound with an additional speaker for £119.99.
In addition, there’s the Amazon Smart Plug – a Wi-Fi enable plug to help people expand their smart home with connected devices. As long as you already have an Alexa device, say an Echo Dot, you can connect up other household products to the Smart Plug and get them all linked up together.
The Echo Sub and Smart Plug are available to pre-order today.
What about the Amazon Microwave?
There were a few devices Amazon previewed last night that are US-only at the moment. One of them was the Alexa-enabled microwave: a smart microwave that can be controlled using Alexa. It even has a Dash button so you can order popcorn to your home, because why not.
The microwave will be coming to the UK at some point but Amazon is keeping quiet on release dates right now.
One of the other fun features that is only available in the US is Alexa Guard. A new skill for Alexa, it essentially turns the smart speaker into your own security guard.
If you say, “Alexa, I’m leaving”, this activates Guard mode. Once enabled, Alexa can send smart alerts about the sound of glass-breaking, smoke detectors or carbon monoxide alarms detected in your home. As well, in Guard mode Alexa can turn lights on and off, “intuitively”, in order to deter intruders, using Away Lighting.
This feature will be available on select Echo devices later this year in the US, but there’s no word on a UK release date.