All-new Echo (2nd Gen) has a new speaker, new design, and is available in a range of styles including fabrics and wood veneers. Echo connects to Alexa to play music, make calls, set music alarms and timers, ask questions, control smart home devices, and more—instantly.
Just ask for a song, artist, or genre from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, and more. With multi-room music, you can play music on compatible Echo devices in different rooms. Echo can also play audiobooks, radio stations, news briefs, and more. Call or message almost anyone hands-free with your Echo device. Also, instantly connect to other Echo devices in your home using just your voice.
New speaker, now with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and dynamic bass response. Echo can fill the room with 360° omnidirectional audio.
With seven microphones, beamforming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo hears you from any direction—even while music is playing. Just ask Alexa to check your calendar, weather, traffic, and sports scores, manage to-do and shopping lists, control your compatible smart lights, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, and more. Alexa is always getting smarter and adding new features and skills. Just ask Alexa to control your TV, request an Uber, order a pizza, and more.
Design and features
The new Amazon Echo continues Amazon’s crusade of making voice the future of the operating system, bolstering Alexa’s skillset and wrapping all of this up in a much nicer chassis – an interchangeable one at that.
The new-look Echo is smaller and wider than its predecessor, which means it’s a lot more steadier on its feet. While we always felt that an accidental nudge would topple the original Echo over, the new Echo’s sturdier footprint means that it isn’t going anywhere.
We haven’t got an issue with this. The style is more desirable than the original Echo and Amazon has decided to combine elements of the Dot with the fullsize device, switching up the volume dial for a pair of buttons. These are joined by a mute button to stop Alexa hearing everything and a button to summon Alexa if you’re too busy to say its name out loud.
This does mean the nice ergonomic experience or rotating a dial rather than tapping the buttons on the top is missing, which is a shame.
The all-new Amazon Echo’s exact measurement are: 148 x 88 x 88mm. Compare this to the original’s 235 x 84 x 84mm and it’s plain to see the height loss and waist gain. Weight-wise it’s a solid 821g.
The Amazon Echo we tested came in the color Charcoal Fabric but there are a number of other colors to choose from. That’s right, Amazon has stretched beyond black and white with its color palette, as well as the material it is using to cover the Echo’s innards.
There are three fabric options: Charcoal, Heather and Sandstone. There are also three ‘finish’ offerings; Oak, Walnut and Silver. Their names (apart from the last) may conjure up wood but it’s worth noting that the shells are made from plastic and are £10/$10 more expensive than the fabric versions.
The shell is interchangeable, too. So if you change the decor in your living room you can in theory buy a new shell to encase your Echo. These are available separately for £20/$20 for the fabric versions and £30/$30. This does feel a touch expensive given it means you are paying around a third of the price for a shell when most of the money has surely gone into the internals of the Echo machine but the option is there.
Amazon has kept it simple when it comes to outputs. There is just room for the power port and 3.5mm audio output on the back, which was previously only featured on the smaller Echo Dot.
The Amazon Echo (2nd Generation) is a breeze to set up but it does mean that you have to venture into the Amazon Alexa app. Amazon has made some improvement with its Alexa app but it’s just not slick enough for our liking.
On the whole the Echo managed to work well, although it did occasionally trip itself up and get confused. Asking for 6Music (the UK radio station) would sometimes take us to a devilish playlist of 666 music, while we would eventually get to the radio station we wanted by sometimes saying BBC 6Music to avoid confusion. Other times we would have to add “on TuneIn” to the end of what we asked Alexa.
You need to do this if you have two or more music accounts linked up to it as well, but that makes sense. In the app you can choose, say, Amazon Music as being the most dominant service to avoid having to repeat commands over and over.
Other teething issues included some content being played on another Echo device not in the same room as us when we wanted it to be played on the new Amazon Echo. We tried out Alexa reading aloud one of our Kindle books and its voice sounded distant – it took us a few seconds to realise that it was because the book was being read in the upstairs bedroom, where our 1st gen Echo resides.
But these are only occasional glitches with what is a simple and smooth service offered by Amazon. Echo and Alexa have made making your home smart so much easier and these devices have to be applauded for that.
Sound quality on the Amazon Echo (2nd generation) was crisp. Every time Alexa spoke it was very clear as to what she’s saying and the Echo’s seven-mic array meant that it always picked up when we said Alexa. And Alex, much to the annoyance of our friend called Alex.
The new Amazon Echo (2nd generation) is a refreshing update to the Amazon range and a radically reduced price. It’s a better-looking speaker than the original and is packed with all the smarts you have come to expect from the Amazon, the Echo range and, most importantly, Alexa.
Its arrival, though, doesn’t quite have the heft or ‘wow’ factor of the original Echo and it can’t quite match the likes of Sonos for sound quality. But its price point is utterly compelling.
For Amazon to offer a speaker that’s better-looking than its predecessor with no reduction in features, at a price that’s some 40% cheaper is a fantastic achievement.