Alexa, Can You Hear Me Now?

The Amazon Echo has received a much-needed update, allowing Alexa to be heard loud and clear. It has been almost two years since the Echo was introduced to Prime Members, but the original Echo’s smart speakers were getting tired and worn out.

Upgraded speaker for Amazon Echo

HeikoAL / Pixabay

During that time, Amazon added six new options to the Echo product line, but it has always been about the AI software…not the hardware. However, at an Amazon event last month it was announced that changes were on the way, including a new and improved speaker for Amazon Echo.

This post offers more about this and other improvements:

The new Echo is more compact than the original. It’s also better looking, with six swappable shells designed to help it better blend in with its surroundings. The sound has been improved this time out, finally embracing the “speaker” part of the smart speaker category. Perhaps most importantly, however, it’s cheap. At $100, the new Echo is a full $80 cheaper than its predecessor — and $30 less than its closest competitor, Google Home.

See the original post here:  Amazon’s original Echo gets a much-needed upgrade

Bonuses of Smart Speakers

There are a number of options for smart home assistants these days, but the main innovators at this time are Amazon with their Echo line of speakers and Google home, although Apple and Samsung are also in the race. All have features that boost their prowess, but it really comes down to what you like to use your smart speaker for.

If you already have a Chromecast device working with your TV, then Google Home integrates more seamlessly. However, if you listen to music with your AI speaker or the Sonos Playbar, then the Echo would be a better option, especially with their new upgraded sound.

Taking the time to research which speaker is better for your needs is important, but it can be helpful to hear someone else’s opinion when it comes to making a smart choice:

Better Microphone on the Echo

Other fresh developments with the Echo is the microphone system that allows Alexa to hear you over loud background sound. There are seven microphones around the top of the Echo, utilizing a new technology called beamforming array.

The ability to change out the look of the speaker with a different outer shell allows you to blend it in with your decor and add your own unique touch. Also, if the outer skin gets damaged or dirty, you can buy a new one for less than $50 and it looks like a new speaker again.

The sound coming out of the newest Amazon Echo is the main highlight. Amazon has implemented Dolby processing and changed the speaker configuration with a separate woofer and tweeter for an overall better sound experience.

However, not everyone agrees, especially when it comes to listening to music:

Amazon Echo new speaker system

geralt / Pixabay

On the inside, Amazon has added Dolby sound processing in an effort to make the Echo’s 2.5-inch subwoofer and 0.6-inch tweeter sound better. But in side-by-side testing, I didn’t find the new Echo to sound any better than the prior model, and for listening to music, I actually preferred the first Echo’s sound.

The new Echo’s sound is sharper, with more treble than the first model. That’s good for hearing Alexa speak back to you, or for cutting through the din of a running faucet if you’re using the Echo in a kitchen. But for music, the sound is thin and flat, with even less bass than before. The old model had a softer sound with just a little bit more bass that’s much more pleasant to listen to.

See more here:  Amazon Echo (2nd gen) review: smaller and cheaper, but mostly the same

Whether or not you agree that the sound has improved, the fact that the new speaker offers a 3.6 mm jack, which allows you to hook it up to a sound system or headphones, makes it more versatile than the original.

The price is another selling point, making it more affordable to be “smart.” It will be fun to watch how the sound and artificial intelligence of these smart devices continue to advance.

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