Amazon's latest Alexa devices draw praise from experts

Tyler Lizenby  CNET

The company has spoken of its desire to dominate the smart home market, ahead of the likes of Google and Apple, which followed Amazon into the space after the first Echo smart speaker was revealed in the USA in 2014. Amazon claims it has higher quality speakers that can crank 70 percent louder.

Well, it retains Bluetooth as well as aux output, which apparently let you hook it up to a bigger speaker (if you have one).

This new device is similar to the Echo Dot, but does not have a built-in speaker and is designed instead to connect to third-party speakers.

Apart from that, you can do all the usual Alexa stuff.

That's probably down to the fact you get goodish sound and a tidy looking little gadget for a fraction of the price of larger speakers. This is an Amazon-Echo-On-a-Chip - a piece of hardware that adds Alexa to microwaves, blenders, and whatever other bit of home electronics you can imagine. The Echo Auto comes with 8 microphone array which is capable of listening to the user while driving. It is coming later this year for US$34.99. The Echo Auto, however, will not make its way into the Indian market anytime soon. It's also notable because this, the Amazon Microwave and the Amazon Auto include a new Amazon developer board and kit that is game-changing for the smart home.

The other product spotted is the Amazon Smart Plug, which allows you to add Alexa voice control to any electrical socket.

I'm going to focus on the devices here today and then in tomorrow's newsletter do a deep dive into the Connect Kit ecosystem play that Amazon announced.

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One thing that Echo speakers lack is the bass.

Amazon is also extending Echo to a new place: your vehicle. The speaker can also be paired with other Echo speakers to create stereo sound.

Never has the humble potato been so smart - or so readily cooked - as inside the Amazon Basics Microwave. Google was first with its Home speaker powered by the Google Assistant. This Alexa-enabled device comes with lots of quick-cook presets that you can cook just by requesting Alexa. The new Echo Plus has a much nicer design, sound improvements and smarthome improvements, all for the same price as the older model. Amazon has confirmed that Echo Show and Echo Input will also come to India early next year. It streams to Fire TV, Android, iOS, Echo Show, Sony TV, and Lenovo tablets. Preorders start today and it'll be available in October.

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Following the Amazon Echo, the next-most popular devices were the Alibaba Tmall Genie (with 800,000 shipments) and the Google Home (800,000 shipments). It is worth adding that you can not connect two Echo speakers for a stereo sound for now. This means you can now conduct Skype calls on your Echo device in addition to the Drop In and voice calls.

The Echo Wall Clock can use its clock face to display any timers a user now has running.

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