Smart speakers are Wi-Fi speakers that you can control using your voice. While Amazon, Apple and Google are the major players here, the Jeff Bezos firm stands tall in this fast-growing market, for the simple reason that it has a diverse product range and the best part is these are most user-friendly. Customers use the Alexa-powered Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Studio and more, for listening to music, devotional content, controlling smart home, kids’ learning and nursery rhymes, bill payments or just as a fun conversational assistant. The best part: Amazon’s smart speakers have seen a surge in popularity in recent months now that people can interact with them in Hindi as well.
“Emergence of Hindi as a voice command language will not only boost smart-speaker usage in the Hindi speaking non-metros but also open up the opportunity in cities where users prefer other regional languages,” said Debashis Chatterjee, associate vice-president, Karvy Insights, that recently brought out a study titled ‘Understanding Smart Speaker Usage in non-metro cities’. “The parents in smaller towns have realised that smart speakers can be a great tool in building their kid’s communication skills with proper diction and accent. The study also revealed that among those who are aware of smart speakers, Amazon Echo (with Alexa) had high awareness of 97%,” he revealed.
Cut to present. Amazon has introduced its new line-up of Echo devices, featuring completely new designs, enhanced audio, and more powerful hardware. A few days back, we had reviewed Echo Dot, the company’s most popular Echo device ever, with a new spherical design to produce crisp, full sound and powerful bass for Rs 4,499.
It’s time now to look at the other two offerings.
The New Echo (4th Gen, 2020, Rs 8,999)
Let me put it straight. The latest Echo smart speaker is a piece of art. Its all-new design and fabric finish looks great in any space, with a bright LED light ring at the base of the sphere that reflects off surfaces for added visibility. This reviewer set it up on a sideboard in the living area and despite the fact that we have fewer visitors nowadays, queries on the Amazon creation were plentiful. Plain-speak, the all-new Echo combines the best of Echo and Echo Plus into a single device at the same affordable Echo price.
Set-up is simple and no rocket science is needed here. Plug in the speaker, download the Alexa app and connect to home Wi-Fi network using the app. Once done, you are ready to shoot questions at Alexa. The new Echo sounds significantly better; thanks to a 3.0-inch woofer, dual-firing tweeters, and Dolby processing that delivers stereo sound with clear highs, dynamic-mids, and deep bass. The smart speaker automatically senses the acoustics of your space and fine-tunes audio playback—just ask to listen to your favourite music and the rich, detailed sound will automatically adapt to your room. You can stream millions of songs from Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, JioSaavn, Gaana, Apple Music and Hungama Music. You can access songs in Hindi, English, Telugu, Tamil, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Kannada and more. With four microphones, Alexa can hear your request from across the room.
You can ask Alexa for music, news, trivia, scores, weather, alarms, kids’ rhymes and stories. The new Echo is designed to protect your privacy; it comes with a microphone off button that electronically disconnects the microphones. Let us not forget, Alexa, the brain behind Echo, is built in the cloud, so it is always getting smarter. The more you use Echo, the more Alexa adapts to your speech patterns and vocabulary. That is not all. For the first time, Echo comes with a built-in Zigbee smart home hub and supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) that helps conserve energy. You can use Echo to switch on the AC from the bed or dim the lights from the couch— completely hands-free. Or, set schedules to turn on the geyser every morning at 7 am or turn off the mosquito repellent at sunrise.
Echo Dot with Clock (4th Gen, Rs 5,499)
The new Echo Dot with Clock comes with the same enhancements as the new Echo Dot that we had reviewed earlier, plus a simple LED display so you can check the time, outdoor temperature, timers, and alarms. Let me remind you that the tap-to-snooze feature on Echo Dot with Clock that customers love is also available on Echo Dot and Echo. Tap the top to snooze. The light sensor automatically adjusts the display’s brightness, day or night. The new Echo Dot with Clock variant comes in a refreshed design and delivers loud, crisp sound with improved bass.