Right ahead of the festive season, e-commerce giant Amazon has announced the new range of Echo devices the company had been working on. A complete range of products including Echo Dot with Clock, all-new Echo, Echo Studio, Echo Buds ($129), Echo Show 8 ($129), $30 Echo Glow, Alexa-powered smart oven and Echo Frames and Loop (beta invite-only hardware device), among others were unveiled at the company's Seattle headquarters. Of the new array of devices, the Echo Dot with Clock, all-new Echo and the Echo Studio are available for pre-order and will be available from October 16 right ahead of Diwali.
"Customers across the country have given feedback on how they love using Alexa - whether it is listening to their favourite music, playing a game with kids, watching videos on Echo Show range of devices or controlling their smart home appliances," says Parag Gupta, Head of Amazon Devices India. "We are introducing new Echo devices and features to give customers even more ways to access Alexa whether that's through our best-sounding Echo devices Echo Studio or the re-imagined Echo and Echo Dot."
Amazon claims to offer an advanced and immersive experience with new Alexa features. A Wipro smart bulb will be available for free with the new Echo and Echo Dot with Clock and a Philips Hue bulb with the Echo Studio. Consumers who purchase the new Echo and Echo Dot with Clock will also be able to purchase a Wipro smart plug for Rs 199. While the offers on the new Echo and Echo Studio are already live, the ones on Echo Dot with Clock should go live by September 27. The offers will be listed on the respective product page on the website itself. These offers are available only for consumers and not for businesses and bulk purchase.
Already available for pre-order on Amazon India and select offline stores, the new devices will be shipped later this year. Customers who pre-order can avail of a smart bulb at no extra cost and a smart plug at Rs 199.
Echo Dot has been the best-selling device among smart speakers for Amazon. The new addition to the Echo Dot family, Echo Dot with Clock priced at Rs 5,499, includes a bright LED display that displays time, outdoor temperature, timers or alarms, and can be placed on a table, next to bed or kitchen counter. The LED display automatically adjusts based on the brightness of the room, so the user can easily see the time or just ask to see the outdoor temperature or to set a morning alarm or cooking timer. Plus, one can tap the top of the device to conveniently snooze an alarm.
With an updated fabric design and premium sound, the all-new Echo is priced at Rs 9,999, the same as the previous generation Echo. However, this next-generation Echo has the same audio architecture as Echo Plus, including a three-inch woofer and increased back volume. It will be available in four colours - blue, black, white and grey.
The most premium of them all is the Echo Studio for Rs 22,999, a feature-rich smart speaker purposefully engineered to create studio-quality sound with space, clarity and depth. It has five built-in directional speakers, a 5.25-inch woofer and 330W of peak power produce deep, rich bass by using the bass port at the bottom to maximise airflow and bass output from the woofer. It also has a one-inch tweeter and three two-inch midrange speakers for dynamic midranges and crisp, high frequencies, plus a 24-bit DAC and a power amplifier with 100 kHz of bandwidth for high-res, lossless music playback. Echo Studio can automatically sense the acoustics of the space and fine-tunes audio playback to deliver optimal sound. It comes with Dolby Atmos and one or two Studio devices can be paired with Fire TV Stick 4k for audio playback. Most importantly, it has a built-in Zigbee smart home hub for controlling smart devices.
The current line-up of Echo devices already available in India include Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Show 5, and Echo companion devices - Echo Sub, Echo Link, Echo Link Amp - to create the Echo family of devices.
Alongside the new Echo devices, Amazon has also announced new features for enhancing the overall experience. Users will be able to converse with Alexa in Hindi or Hinglish, in multiple contexts, and varied regional accents and dialects. Customers will be able to ask Alexa to speak slower or faster depending on their preference, enabling Alexa to adapt to a diverse set of customer needs. Going forward, looking at what the customers ask for, Alexa will recommend routines too. For example, if a customer sets their alarm for 6 AM and immediately ask for the weather every day, Alexa will suggest setting up a routine so that the alarm is always set and the weather plays as soon as it goes off. Offering more transparency over the responses, users will be able to ask Alexa as to what she understood using the 'Alexa, tell me what you heard' and Alexa will read back your most recent voice request. Starting next month, customers will be able to switch between English and Hindi when talking to Alexa.
Later this year, a new Whisper Mode will be introduced that allows users to whisper to Alexa and Alexa will whisper back the response. Amazon is also introducing an auto-delete feature where customers will be able to get their voice recordings older than three or 18 months automatically deleted on an ongoing basis. The feature will be available in addition to the ability to access and delete utterances individually or all at once, which customers already have today.