Amazon Alexa has a new Echo Dot, Plus, Sub and Show all to aid you in ‘hands-free’ command of your smart home.
Alexa is a voice assistant from online shopping giant Amazon. GadgetGuy has an Alexa capabilities overview here. It is fair to say that Alexa’s previous generation speakers lacked audiophile quality.
Alexa Echo Dot
The third generation Dot sound is better, and it has a new fabric surround in Charcoal, Heather Grey, and Sandstone. It has added a whole inch to its .6” second generation speaker. GadgetGuy had a brief listen at launch, and it plays acceptable music at bedroom sound levels. The $79 speaker is your entry point to the world of Amazon.
Alexa Echo Plus
The second-generation $229 Plus is smaller in stature and still has a smart hub to control selected Zigbee partner devices. It has upped the ‘woofer’ from 2.5” to 3” and the tweeter from .6” to .8”. It rounds out a warm and sweet sound that is best for easy listening music.
As with all Echo speakers our concern was lack of bass for good movie and music sound.
Alexa Echo Sub.
Again, we heard this at launch with a pair of Echo Plus in a 2.1 stereo configuration. The Sub has a 6” down-firing woofer and a 100W class D amp. Amazon claims it cuts in at 30Hz. Yes, it does have hints at that frequency, but meaningful bass creeps in later at about 50-60Hz. Still, this $199 option adds what Alexa Echo speakers have been lacking.
The 2.1 set-up provided enough volume and quality of lounge filling sound. There is a 20% discount off a pair of Plus and a Sub making that $525.60 (normally $657).
At that price however you can get far better sound from a $599 Sonos Beam (Alexa enabled and GadgetGuy review here) or a $499 JBL Bar 2.1 or 3.1 or 5.1 (Review here ) and use a $79 Echo Dot to add Alexa. In all cases, you will need an Amazon Fire TV stick to add TV control.
Alexa Echo Show
The second-generation show adds a 10.1” HD 1280 x 800 screen (plays movies in 720p with a small top and bottom black bar). It also has two x 2” (left and right) 10W speakers, a passive radiator (to enhance bass) and Dolby processing (to reduce distortion). At the launch, it produced reasonable sound and plenty of volume, albeit a little harsh at the top end.
It has a Zigbee hub (like the Echo Plus), a front-facing 5MP camera, four far-field front mics and connects via Wi-Fi (up to AC dual-band MIMO). It also has Bluetooth for music streaming from a smartphone.
The screen adds an often-needed visual element to voice control. For example, recipes and instructions are better shown than spoken.
We will be reviewing it soon.
Readers frequently ask what voice assistant should you use?
Alexa has some cool features like hands-free calling (and video-calling on the Show and Spot), an intercom function (between Echo devices), and a range of skills that make use of voice control and its Zigbee hub functionality. Apart from that, it is a portal to Amazon Prime shopping and services and a voice assistant and all that entails.
To be fair to all voice assistants (Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Bixby, LG ThinQ, Google Assistant, IBM Watson and more) have many equally cool features as well. The answer to what you should use depends on which ecosystem you choose and how much you trust the provider.
It is a question GadgetGuy’s smart home expert is objectively working on, and we hope to have more clarity for you soon. Spoiler alert: You really can’t have a foot in all camps, so it comes down to Siri for Apple users, OK Google for Android users, and Alexa for shoppers!
Channel 7 Sunrise GadgetGuy was at the Alexa Echo launch. You can see the video clip – click here or on the picture below.