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Amazon launches latest Echo smart speakers with Alexa

All-new Echo Show, Echo Dot and Echo Plus – plus new audio accessories including Echo Sub

Amazon launched its upgraded range of Echo speakers in the UK on 11 October, including an Echo Show with a bigger screen and a ‘better sounding’ version of its most popular smart speaker, the palm-sized Echo Dot.

A new Amazon Echo Plus with ‘stronger’ bass completes the line-up, which is its smart-home-focused wireless speaker with a built-in smart hub. All Echo speakers contain Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, enabling you to control devices such as smart lights and thermostats using your voice. The Amazon Echo (2nd Gen) Bluetooth and wi-fi speaker continues from last year.

In addition, Amazon has also revealed a new range of Echo-branded audio accessories, including the Amazon Echo Sub, which aims to add ‘deep, rich bass’ to the Amazon Echo (2nd Gen) and Amazon Echo Plus.

Finally, Echo Input and Echo Link accessories are designed to add Alexa and high-fidelity music to your existing speakers, and Echo Auto brings Alexa to your car.

We reveal all the details about these brand new products below.

Best Buy Bluetooth and wireless speakers – see the very best from our expert lab tests.

Echo Show, £220

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The Amazon Echo Show has been completely redesigned with an enlarged 10-inch display. It allows you to not only talk to Alexa but also interact with it visually using the screen. This larger screen makes it look more like a tablet, with the speakers firing out the back of the unit like a TV.

The screen gives you additional functionality over other Echo speakers, such as being able to see the steps in a recipe while cooking. Amazon says the upgraded display is also ideal for watching live TV and for video calling, including the ability to use Skype.

Amazon says it also has a built-in Zigbee smart home hub – in contrast to the original Echo Show – boosting its ability to connect to and control Zigbee-compatible smart devices such as smart light bulbs and smart thermostats; there’s no need for an additional hub or ‘bridge’.

But can the Echo Show really deliver superb sound quality? Find out how well the first generation of this speaker did in our Amazon Echo Show review, with sound quality rated by our expert panel of music industry professionals, and check back in a couple of weeks for our full Echo Show speaker review.

Echo Dot, £50

The latest Amazon Echo Dot sports a new fabric-covered curved design and maintains its hockey puck shape. Amazon claims the new model has more powerful sound, suitable for playing richer-sounding music – so we’ll be putting it through our expert audio lab to see whether it delivers.

The Dot is the most popular Echo product. It allows you to easily add Alexa to any room in your home and also combine multiple Echo Dots in a multi-room setup with other compatible speakers. The colour options are Charcoal, Heather Grey and Sandstone.

However, is the Echo Dot really the best way to add Alexa to your home, and is it really a suitable way to listen to high quality audio? See what we thought of the previous iteration in our Echo Dot smart hub review and keep your eyes peeled for our in-depth review.

Echo Plus, £140

The second-generation Echo Plus is a wireless speaker designed for those looking to set up a smart home of connected devices – from smart lights to smart thermostats – that you can control with your voice.

It has a new fabric design and, like the new Echo Show, a built-in Zigbee smart home hub so can control Zigbee-supporting smart devices without needing to access them via separate control units; this can be necessary for some smart devices with the Amazon Echo (2nd Gen) and Echo Dot.

There’s also a built-in temperature sensor so you can set temperature-based routines from other devices such as your smart thermostat – for example, raising the living room temperature if it falls below a certain level.

The latest Echo Plus is getting bolstered audio treatment, too – a larger 3-inch woofer delivers a ‘stronger’ bass and ‘clearer’ mids and highs, according to Amazon. We’ll send it to our expert lab for the definitive verdict on how it performs.

So will the Echo Plus deliver better sound than the cheaper standard Echo (2nd Gen) and be worth an upgrade? See how last year’s model performed in our extensive Amazon Echo Plus review.

Echo Sub, £120

Also launching alongside the main speakers on 11 October is the Echo Sub. It’s made for bass lovers – those who want, in Amazon’s words, to ‘pump up the bass’ when listening to music on your existing or new Echo devices.

Amazon says the Echo Sub is only optimised for use with the Amazon Echo (2nd Gen) or Amazon Echo Plus, and recommends you connect it to a pair of these speakers for optimal stereo left/right sound.

But is the sound quality of the Echo range good enough to justify buying the Echo Sub, or would a Sonos or Bose speaker be better? Find out how the standard full-size Echo performs in our Amazon Echo (2nd Gen) review. Our expert lab will also be taking a look at the Echo Sub, so check back soon for our comprehensive verdict.

Echo Input and Link

If you have an existing speaker or audio system at home that you love, you don’t need to part with it. Echo Input (£35) allows you to add Alexa and its suite of smart functionality to your current setup.

Echo Input connects to your speaker either via a 3.5mm audio cable or Bluetooth, allowing you to talk to Alexa from across the room. Little more than a centimetre tall, the Echo Input is much smaller than the Echo Dot, since it doesn’t contain a speaker.

The Echo Input also gives you multi-room support, allowing you to connect your existing speaker to other compatible speakers to form a wider multi-room audio setup. The Echo Input will be available in black and white.

Meanwhile, the new Echo Link and Echo Link Amp are for high-end audio fans. The Echo Link connects to your existing hi-fi audio system to stream music services, plus it offers a wide range of wired connections and multi-room support.

The Echo Link Amp includes all of this but also has a built-in two-channel amp, saving you from needing an extra box if your audio system already requires a separate amp. These will be available in the US for $199 and $299 later this year. Availability and pricing in the UK has not yet been announced.

Echo Auto

Alexa is now making its way into cars, meaning you will be able to, for instance, control your home’s smart thermostat from your car, or ask for traffic updates to decide on your route.

Echo Auto connects to your car’s existing stereo system through its 3.5mm audio socket or via Bluetooth, and it connects to Alexa via the Alexa app on your smartphone using your existing phone data plan.

The ‘hands-free’ device allows you to not only ask Alexa for traffic updates, but also for the weather, news or to read an audiobook on Audible, plus add things to your to-do list if they pop into your head, without taking your eyes off the road.

With a substantial data plan, you can also use it to listen to internet radio hands-free to have more radio stations to choose from. Alternatively, if you have an old car with an FM-only radio, there are other ways to get more stations – see our handy guide on how to get DAB radio in your car.

The Echo Auto is currently available in the US by invitation only at a discount, with the full retail price being $50. Amazon has not yet revealed UK pricing and availability.

Want to find out more about smart speakers? See our expert guide to how to buy the best smart speaker.

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