By Dan Moren
September 14, 2016 5:50 AM PT
Amazon releases revamped Echo Dot and white Echo, adds UK and Germany
As per my contractual obligations to keep you abreast of all new developments in the Amazon Echosphere, here’s an overview of what Amazon announced today in regards to its voice-based smart home speaker.
First up, there’s a new white full-size Echo, just in case your décor doesn’t agree with the black model.
More interestingly, Amazon has revamped the Echo Dot, dropping the smaller device’s price from $90 to $50, and redesigning the case. (Gone is the twisty volume ring at the top, replaced with up and down volume buttons—shame, I say; the ring is one of my favorite parts of the industrial design of the Echo.) Like its big sibling, the Echo Dot now comes in black and white though, from the pictures, the new black looks shinier than the matte color of its predecessor. Amazon also says the new Dot uses an improved speech processor which improves its speech recognition accuracy.
For me, the biggest news is the addition of Echo Spatial Perception (or ESP—I see what you did there, Amazon), which is aimed at those who have multiple Echo units in their homes1. I’ll just let Amazon describe it:
Amazon’s new ESP technology intelligently calculates the clarity of the customer’s voice and determines which Echo is best to respond to the request—instantly. This feature is smart—performance gets better over time, so ESP will continuously improve as you use Echo. In multi-Echo households, ESP resolves the problem of two Echo devices answering you at the same time.
This is great news—I’ve been using my Dot with a separate wake word (“Echo” instead of “Alexa”) to avoid collisions, but this may get me to change it back. Even better, Amazon says ESP will come as a free update to all existing Echo devices within the next few weeks, so I’ll be able to test this out without buying a new Dot.2
Amazon is also expanding the availability of the Echo and the Echo Dot, adding the UK and Germany, in addition to the US—in Germany, however, the device is currently invitation-only. The devices start shipping in the UK in the next few weeks and Germany next month. Also, if one Echo Dot just isn’t covering it, you can buy a six-pack (buy five, get one free) or a twelve-pack (buy ten, get two free).
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His latest novel, The Aleph Extraction, is out now and available in fine book stores everywhere, so be sure to pick up a copy.]
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