Hands On With Amazon's New Echo Dot, Plus, Input, and More



Amazon Echo Dot (2018)

SEATTLE—Amazon’s new Echo Dot and Echo Plus are incremental upgrades that bring these models more in-line with the design of their larger counterpart.

Instead of bare plastic or metal cylinders, the upgraded Echo Dot and Echo Plus have cloth covers like the Echo, and more rounded edges on the top to give them a less stark appearance. The two devices also feature upgraded speaker drivers, and retain all their previous functionality, including 3.5mm audio output for connecting to other speaker systems, and a Zigbee home automation hub in the Echo Plus.

Amazon claims both speakers sound better than their predecessors, but we can’t confirm that from limited listening at Amazon’s press event.

Both devices, the Echo Dot and Echo Plus, keep their previous price tags—$49.99 and $149.99, respectively—and will ship on Oct. 11. The new Echo Show also ships that day; check out our hands on.

Echo Input

The Echo Input is a much more intriguing Echo device and the least expensive announced by Amazon on Thursday. It’s basically an Echo Dot without a speaker, and relies on a wired or Bluetooth connection with any other speaker to provide audio output. Plug the Echo Input into your speaker to give it far-field voice commands with Alexa, without the then-vestigial presence of the Echo Dot’s (presumably) much less powerful speaker.

Amazon Echo Input (2018)

Since it doesn’t need to hold any speaker drivers, the Echo Input is perhaps a quarter the height of the Echo Dot. It’s a flat black or white plastic disc with curved edges, a 3.5mm audio output, and a micro USB port for power. With no speaker drivers to cover, it lacks the cloth speaker grille found on other Echo devices.

The Echo Input will sell $34.99, $15 less than the Echo Dot, but is not yet available.

Echo Sub

The Echo Sub is an optional subwoofer for use with Echo speakers. It shares the same cloth-covered, rounded design as its contemporaries, but stands as the largest and heaviest Echo product because of the mass and volume it requires to function properly as a subwoofer.

Amazon Echo Sub

It’s about twice as tall as the Echo Plus, and three or four times as wide. It produced a satisfying rumble in Amazon’s demo, reaching far past the low frequency range of any other Echo device we’ve tested. Of course, as a subwoofer that’s all it’s expected to do; it doesn’t work on its own and can only function when wirelessly paired with an Echo speaker or pair of speakers. We’ll have a better sense of its performance after we test it in PC Labs, but at $129.99, it seems like a small investment to add power to your Echo speakers. It ships on Oct. 11.

Echo Link

The Echo Link and Echo Link Amp are the two audiophile-specific products in Amazon’s lineup. They’re wireless receivers, the latter with a built-in 2-channel 60-watt amp, designed for connecting to your high-end stereo system.

Amazon Echo Sub, Link Amp, Link, and Input

They’re a significant departure from the other Echo devices in terms of design, with plain, black, blocky chassis instead of rounded, cloth-covered profiles. They feature multiple wired audio connections for hooking up to a receiver or unpowered speakers, including analog, coax, optical, 3.5mm headphone and subwoofer outputs, and analog, optical and coax inputs, along with an Ethernet port for wired network connectivity.

For all of their connections, the Echo Link and Echo Link Amp don’t have microphones; if you want to integrate them into your Alexa-powered multi-room system you need to use another Echo device with a microphone. They’re also among the most expensive of the new Echo devices, at $199.99 and $299.99, respectively, but neither is on sale yet.

Until then, perhaps Amazon could interest you in an Alexa-powered microwave?

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