At its 2020 hardware event, Amazon has announced 3 updated devices. First, the Echo 4th Gen is official. Amazon announced the update to its smart speaker line at its September hardware event and, design-wise, it stands out from its predecessor. Announced alongside the Echo 4th Gen, is the Echo Dot 4th gen and Echo Dot with Clock, which went through its first big redesign.
The new Echo 4th Gen features a circular body with a fabric finish and a bright, blue Alexa ring light at its base for better visibility. It’s a big change from the Echo’s traditional cylindrical form, and it’s designed to blend nicely in with your living room decor.
The smart speaker combines the best of Echo and Echo Plus into a single device, without increasing the price. This means it’s been given an audio boost thanks to a 3.0-inch woofer, dual-firing tweeters and Dolby processing. According to Amazon, the Echo 4th Gen delivers stereo sound with clear highs, dynamic mids and deep bass.
Another Echo Plus feature coming to the Echo is Zigbee support. The speaker is now a fully-fledged smart home hub with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Amazon Sidewalk, too. With Sidewalk, you’ll be able to set up devices quickly, extend the range of devices beyond your home Wi-Fi and receive support for more devices, such as Tile.
The Echo 4th Gen has also taken some cues from the Echo Studio. It can now sense the acoustics of your room and adapt and fine-tune audio to best fit the space.
Inside the speaker is Amazon’s first-generation AZ1 Neural Edge processor. The new silicon module accelerates machine learning and includes an all-neural speech recognition mode, allowing it to process speech faster and making Alexa more responsive.
Amazon also said that all its new Echo and Fire TV devices will be made from sustainable materials, earning a Climate Pledge Friendly badge on Amazon.com. All of Amazon’s new Echo devices also come with a Low Power Mode to save energy during periods of inactivity.
The Amazon Echo 4th Gen is available in Charcoal, Glacier White and Twilight Blue colours and is priced at US $99.99 (~SGD $137.60).
It doesn’t feel too long ago that the Echo Dot went through its first big redesign. However, at its 2020 hardware event Amazon announced a redesigned Echo Dot 4th gen and Echo Dot with Clock smart speaker.
Both speakers have identical specs, and but the Echo Dot with Clock adds an LCD screen to show the current time. The biggest change is that the new Echo Dot speakers have dropped the hockey puck design of previous versions and gone for a more distinctive, spherical look – and we rather like it.
All the latest Echos are powered by Amazon’s first-generation AZ1 Neural Edge processor – an all-new silicon module that’s been purpose-built for machine learning applications. According to Amazon, the AZ1 can process speech faster, making Alexa even more responsive.
We were wondering if Amazon was gone to spruce things up in terms of colour and they’ve stayed pretty much the same with Charcoal, Glacier White and Twilight Blue options. But they do look better on the new Echo Dot than the older one, and the all new Echo Dot seems like it’s moving towards more of a lifestyle design.
In terms of sound, the Echo Dot has a 1.6-inch front-firing speaker that Amazon says offers crisp vocals and balanced bass performance. Controls remain the same with an Action button, volume controls and a microphone toggle. At the rear of both Dot speakers are a 3.5mm audio output for hooking up an external speaker.
Also announced was an Echo Dot Kids version, which features a spherical design but is more inventive in terms of its look with new Panda and Tiger designs, alongside more animal-themed alarms. Each Echo Dot Kids Edition comes with a one-year Amazon Kids+ subscription, so families can access thousands of kid-friendly Audible books, interactive games and educational skills.
The new Echo Dot can be pre-ordered from Amazon for USD $49.99 (SGD ~$68.80) and goes on sale October 24th. The new Echo Dot with Clock can be pre-ordered from Amazon for USD $59.99 (SGD ~$82.60). That goes on sale November 5th.
In all, Echo 4th gen and Echo dot 4th gen have served the same function of a smart home controller and speaker. Other than Echo 4th gen being much bigger than Echo dot 4th gen, one point may be worth pointing out is that Echo 4th gen has better and larger sound than the echo dot 4th gen. However, the echo 4th gen is also about 2 times more expensive.