Amazon doubles down on smart home functionality with an upgraded version of the original Amazon Echo.
What is Amazon Echo Plus?
Amazon Echo Plus is the latest iteration of Amazon's Echo line of voice-controlled smart speakers. Like the original Amazon Echo, it is capable of performing a variety of tasks including playing music, reading you the news and interacting with other smart devices in your home, all via simple voice commands.
As with all Amazon Echo devices, the Echo Plus is powered by Alexa, Amazon's virtual personal assistant. Alexa uses a cloud-based voice service to interpret your spoken commands and respond appropriately. The online nature of this service means the Echo Plus needs to be connected to the Internet at all times in order to understand your voice commands.
Buy Amazon Echo Plus from Amazon AU
Amazon Echo Plus features a more-powerful speaker than the original Echo along with additional home-automation functionality courtesy of a built-in ZigBee smart home hub.View details
What new features does Amazon Echo Plus have?
Amazon's focus with the Echo Plus is very much centred on the smart home. While other Echo devices are capable of controlling select smart home devices via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the Echo Plus is the first to include a built-in smart home hub along with support for the Zigbee communication protocol. Better yet, Echo Plus streamlines the task of connecting Alexa with other smart home devices. By simply telling Alexa to "discover my devices", Echo Plus will automatically detect all compatible smart devices in the vicinity and handle the setup process for you.
What else is Amazon Echo Plus capable of?
Amazon Echo Plus is capable of everything the original Echo is, from reporting current weather forecasts and traffic conditions to managing your personal calendar and researching information on the Internet. If you have an account through a streaming music service like Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn or Amazon Music, Echo Plus can also play songs from those services through its own speaker or through other wireless speakers connected to it.
Thanks to its built-in microphone, the Echo Plus can make and receive hands-free calls to and from owners of other Echo products, including the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot, as well as anyone with the Amazon Alexa app installed on their smartphone.
Integration with Amazon's online store is a big part of the Amazon Echo line, and the Echo Plus maintains this. Ordering items from Amazon is as simple as asking Alexa to buy them for you, though you will need to be an Amazon Prime member to take advantage of this feature. Non-Prime members can still have Alexa add items to their Amazon shopping cart and check out later manually via the Amazon website or mobile app.
To stave off obsolescence, the Echo Plus can take advantage of an ever-expanding catalogue of additional functionality through the Alexa Skills Kit framework. Alexa Skills are freely-available upgrades to Alexa that unlock new capabilities, whether it be support for scheduling a pickup through Uber or reporting a custom-tailored flash briefing from a news outlet like the BBC.
What other devices is Amazon Echo Plus compatible with?
With added support for the Zigbee communication protocol, Echo Plus works with an even greater number of smart home devices than its fellow Echo devices. Among the wide range of compatible devices, some of the most popular include:
- Ring Video doorbell
- Arlo security systems
- Logitech Harmony remotes
- Sony Bravia TVs
- Rachio water sprinklers
- iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaners
When will Amazon Echo Plus be available in Australia?
Amazon opened pre-orders for Amazon Echo Plus here in Australia on 18 January 2018, with an expected shipping date of early February. Retail stores like JB Hi-Fi and Myer will start selling the speaker around that same time.
How much will Amazon Echo Plus cost?
Amazon Echo Plus retails for $229 here in Australia, but to kick off the launch of Echo Down Under, Amazon has slashed $30 off the price to bring it down to $199 for a limited time.
Amazon Echo Plus specs
- 235mm x 84mm x 84mm
- 2.5" woofer + 0.8" tweeter
- Dual-band, dual-antenna 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac @ 2.4GHz/5GHz
- 7-microphone array