Now here's something different. For the new Amazon Echo 2020, Amazon completely redesigned its flagship smart speaker.
Instead of the cylindrical shape that has come to define all of its smart speakers, the all-new Amazon Echo is a large ball, whose shape is designed not only to attract attention, but sound better than previous models, too. But the new Echo has a lot more going on the inside, too.
The new Amazon Echo also promises better sound quality and faster speech recognition, and even comes with a built-in thermometer for helping with Alexa routines. Here's everything you need to know about the new Amazon Echo 2020.
New Amazon Echo: Price and release date
The Amazon Echo 2020 is available for preorder for $99, and is available for pre-order starting today, and will start shipping on October 22.
You can purchase the Echo in white, gray, or twilight blue. The new Amazon Echo will replace the current-generation Amazon Echo as well as the Amazon Echo Plus, which is being discontinued.
New Amazon Echo: Design
Yep, it's round. Amazon says that, as customers have become more used to the idea of a smart speaker, they've been putting them in more prominent places in their homes. The circular design, which measures roughly 5.7 inches in diameter, also allowed Amazon to cram in a three-inch woofer and two tweeters. A fabric mesh covers the majority of the speaker, while hard plastic surrounds the lower third of its rear.
As with earlier Echos, the Echo has the circular light bar that turns a different shade of blue when Alexa is listening, only on this model, the LEDs are arrayed around the bottom, rather than the top of the speaker. This placement also results in more of a glow as the light is reflected off the surface of your desk or furniture on which the Echo is placed.
Inside, the Echo has a new AZ1 Neural Edge processor and speech recognition module, which Amazon says will shave off hundreds of milliseconds when Alexa is responding to you. And, the Echo has a thermometer built in, which will let you use its readings for Alexa routines, and a touch-sensitive area that you can use as a tap-to-snooze button, much like the Echo Dot with Clock. Around the back of the Echo is a 3.5mm aux line out.
- Why is Alexa flashing? Decoding green, yellow, red, and purple lights on your Amazon Echo
New Amazon Echo: Audio
With two tweeters and a 3-inch subwoofer, the all-new Echo should produce audio that's better than both the 3rd-gen Echo and the Echo Dot, both of which only had a woofer and a single tweeter. The new Echo should sound better than previous models, but not as good as the Echo Studio.
In addition, the new Echo has Dolby audio processing as well as the adaptive sound technology introduced in the Echo Studio. This allows the Echo to adjust its audio on the fly to the acoustics of the room it's in. Also like the Echo Studio, the new Echo can be used as an audio output for Amazon Fire TV Cube and Fire TV sticks.
Like Amazon's other smart speakers, you can pair two Echos for stereo sound, or link them for whole-home audio.
New Amazon Echo: Smart home features
The Echo has Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi, but also incorporates the Zigbee radio in the Echo Plus and the Echo Studio, so you can connect smart home devices, such as smart light bulbs, directly to the Echo without a separate hub.
New is support for Amazon Sidewalk, a new shared network being launched by Amazon later this year that's designed to help your smart home devices stay connected to Wi-Fi outside your home.
While many existing Amazon and Ring devices can act as an Amazon Sidewalk bridge via Bluetooth, the new Echo has a 900-MHz radio, which has a longer range. Tile announced that an upcoming tracker will be the first third-party device to work with Amazon Sidewalk.
New Amazon Echo: Outlook
The circular shape of the new Amazon Echo is a bold choice, and represents a new era with Amazon's smart speakers. In the past, Amazon has tended to put function over form. While the previous generations have been more attractive, the all-new Echo is its first smart speaker that's really designed to take a prominent place in your living room.
But the new Echo has a number of improvements on the inside, too, from better speakers to a more powerful processor, and points to a future where Amazon's wireless network could be as ubiquitous as its voice assistant. Hmmm.
Be sure to check out all of our Amazon coverage, including the new Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite, and more.