It wouldn’t be an Amazon Devices Event without some new additions to the Echo family of smart speakers. And at its 2022 Fall Device Event, Amazon also dropped two an update to the Echo Studio, but also unveiled the next-generation of Echo Dots.
The Echo Dot ($49.99), Echo Dot with Clock ($59.99), and Echo Dot Kids ($59.99). And like the iPhone 14, these don’t change up the design and stick with the spherical build—complete with an LED indicator on the bottom—but upgrade the internal hardware.
So let’s unpack everything you need to know about the three new speakers. And if you’re already sold, all three are up for preorder now.
What You Need to Know About the latest Echo Dots
If you look at any of the new Echo Dots — except for the new Kids which comes in a lovely Dragon or Owl design — you might be scratching your head. These keep the exact same spherical design which makes this entry-level smart speaker look like a piece of fruit, but Amazon made some big improvements to the hardware.
For starters, the Echo Dot features a new audio setup made up by a high excursion speaker and a custom driver for a richer audio experience. The tech giant is specifically calling out improvements to the bass, around 2x over the previous generation, and clearer vocals. We’re eager to put this to the test, but it shouldn’t be any slouch.
Built under the hood is a new ultrasonic sensor for gesture control. This will allow you to tap to control playback or even snooze an alarm. There’s also a “temperature sensor” inside the Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock which will enable some “ambient computing” experiences. Namely that if it detects a rise or drop in temperature, it could auto trigger the thermostat to kick in or turn off.
Rounding out a quartet of improvements is “eero built-in” which essentially lets an Echo or Echo Dot act as Wi-Fi access point. Essentially built into the smart speaker is an Eero router meeting the Wi-Fi 5 standard and supporting downloads up to 1,000Mbps. It can add up to 1,000 square feet of coverage to your Eero setup.
Of course, to use this you’ll need to have an Eero system and this feature will be enabled on Oct. 20. In fact, via an update to the Echo Dot 4th Gen it will be capable of “eero Built-In” as well.
Powering the new Echo Dot, Echo Dot with Clock, and Echo Dot Kids is the Amazon-made AZ2 Neural Edge processor. This will allow many requests to be processed on device, instead of being tossed to the cloud, as well.
The new Echo Dot costs $49.99 and is available in Deep-Sea blue, Charcoal, or Glacier. It’s up for preorder now and begins shipping in October.
The new Echo Dot with Clock
Finally, Amazon is letting the dot screen on the Echo Dot with Clock do more than just show the time or a graphic for the weather. Thanks to an updated high density dot display it can still show the time and weather, but also display the name of the track playing or even the answer to a math question you’ve asked Alexa.
A new API/SDK will also be released for developers so that they can optimize Alexa Skills to take advantage of the new display. Amazon also made it easier to view whatever it’s displaying in lower-lighting conditions, thanks to the ability to get brighter, but also see it from less than ideal viewing angles. We’re eager to try this all out and see how it performs.
The next-generation Echo Dot with Clock also gets all the other features like eero built-in, the upgraded audio experience, the temperature sensor, and gesture controls. With the latter you’ll be able to physically hit snooze on the alarm as well.
Amazon’s new Echo Dot with Clock is available in either Cloud Blue or Glacier White for $59.99, and is up for preorder now.
The Echo Dot Kids packs in all the tech of the standard fifth-generation Echo, but comes paired with a year of Amazon’s Kids+ service and comes in two unique designs. Replacing the Panda and Tiger from the previous-generation are an Owl or Dragon. Both of which seem pretty fun and can add some spice.
Like a Kids-edition Fire Tablet, the Alexa experience here is controlled for kids and only provides access to appropriate content. You’ll also be able to customize the parental controls on the unit via the Alexa app for Android or iOS. The Echo Dot Kids comes with a two-year worry-free guarantee as well — meaning that Amazon will replace if it breaks, no questions asked.
New for 2022, along with the enhanced audio and new designs, are two custom Alexa voices that sound like an Owl or Dragon respectively. The new Echo Dot Kids is priced at $59.99 and is up for preorder now.
Amazon is Finally Updating the Echo Auto
The most unique Echo in the lineup? That would be the Echo Auto — an Alexa smart speaker designed for the car, that gets connectivity via LTE or 5G on your phone and it plugs into the car via an audio jack.
Now they’re introducing the second-generation Echo Auto which sports a more compact build with a woven outer shell. It features a five-microphone system which should let it hear your voice even on rough road conditions, with the AC blasting, or with the radio on.
Amazon’s also introducing Roadside Assistance which will connect you to an agent in a relay center that can help you get services. They were clear to note it’s not for 911 emergencies or for crashes, but rather for a flat tire or the need for a tow truck. It’s surprising that they didn’t rollout crash detection with this device like the iPhone 14, new Apple Watches, or the Pixel 6a.
Echo Auto second-generation is still a way to add some smarts to older vehicles or ones without Alexa built-in. It will be up for order soon at $54.99 and ships later this year.
Echo Studio Comes in Two Colors and Gets Audio Improvements
Since launching in 2019 the Echo Studio has been the flagship Alexa-smart speaker with a focus on Hi-Fi quality sound. It’s also physically large and the biggest Echo in the lineup. It boasts five speakers with support for 3D audio and Dolby Atmos.
Amazon keeps the price at $199.99 but adds in a new color option. Glacier White joins Charcoal, as well as the Billie Eilish special edition which is priced at $229.99. In addition to the color, Amazon aims to improve the audio experience through some software changes. Amazon developed a custom spatial audio algorithm that widens the soundstages and extends the overall frequency range. They’re saying that it improves clarity and the oomph of bass and improves mid-range sounds.
We’ll have to put this to the test, but it’s clear that Amazon has been focusing on improving the sound for its top-tier Echo. You won’t need to buy a new Echo Studio if you already have one to get the upgrades. Amazon will roll out these improvements as a software update to all Echo Studio devices later this year.
- Echo Studio in Charcoal or Glacier White ($199.99 at Amazon)