The Amazon Echo range is renewed with the fourth generation of the smart speaker, for a product totally different from the previous model.
Amazon’s smart speakers are among the most popular in Italy. The Alexa voice assistant is one of the most advanced in our language and the synergy with the eCommerce giant has brought tons of smart products to the market with which to make the most of its capabilities. From smart cameras to alarm systems, via smart sockets and the most diverse accessories, the possibilities of using Alexa are really wide.
But the Echo speakers are not just that, Amazon has also designed them to offer excellent audio quality at a very affordable price. A goal that we can say fully achieved, thanks to technological innovations of this fourth generation Echo, a mature product that offers more than it costs.
All new design, aggressive price
Amazon has completely renewed the design of the Echo. We tried the larger variant, which differs for a more advanced audio section and for the presence of a greater number of communication standards, which increase versatility in the field of home automation.
The design of the new Echo has a spherical shape, which you may like or not, but it remains a product made with a care hard to find in this price range. From fabric to plastics, soft to the touch, Amazon has chosen materials that convey a distinct feeling of quality. If we think of the smart speakers that could be bought under € 100 until a few years ago, the difference is huge. In this sense, it seems incredible to be faced with recycled materials: 50% of the plastic is reused, as well as 100% of the fabric and aluminum used.
This larger variant has no display, no clock or timer in sight therefore, unlike the smaller model, which is also available in a version without a screen. In the upper area there are buttons that allow you to change the volume, deactivate the microphones and activate Alexa; on the body there is also a 3.5 mm jack, which can be used in input and output. Then we find the power door and the possibility of installing the cash box on an external support, thanks to the invitation in the lower part.
A circular LED is installed at the bottom, used to understand when Alexa is listening. The American company has done a great job with the fourth generation Echo speakers, net of their personal preferences in terms of design, especially if you think about the price, of only 99 €, even discounted at 69.99 euros on Amazon this week of Black Friday.
Everything is new inside
The new design adopted by Amazon not only affects the aesthetics, but also the internal positioning of the speakers. Inside are a 3-inch woofer and two 0.8 “tweeters, positioned for push the sound not only in front of the speaker but also sideways, to exploit the refraction and expand the sound front. This choice was made to make the most of the sound optimization algorithm, already seen in the Echo Studio review. Amazon Echo automatically calibrates itself the first time it is turned on, through a sound that, bouncing in space, is then picked up by the microphones. In this way, the performance is best adapted to the environment that houses the speaker, just as seen in the upper model.
This not a little broadens the spatiality of the sounds, for a truly surprising performance for a speaker of this size and at this price. Above all the bass are very incisive, but just act on the equalizer, through the Alexa application, to adjust them according to your needs, making mids and highs stand out better.
If we think that these days, thanks to the Black Friday discounts, it is possible to take home two Echos at 128.99 €, it is possible to create a stereo configuration that meets the needs of most people with ease. We are obviously not faced with a system for audio freaks, but to listen to music from your smartphone, or to watch a movie via Fire Stick TV or the new Fire TV Cube, unpretentious and with a good stereo effect, the solution proposed by Amazon offers good quality at a really attractive price.
This was not enough, Alexa and the innovations introduced in this new version of the Echo open infinite doors in the field of home automation. Amazon Echo is it is compatible with Bluetooth LE and the Zigbee standard, as well as Amazon Sidewalk, a proprietary standard for IoT devices. This is still little used, but Amazon’s leading position in the field of selling smart products could lead to greater diffusion in the medium term.
The smart speaker is also equipped with a temperature sensor, useful for knowing the environmental one but, potentially, also for creating routines based on the data detected by the sensor.
The latest news, and certainly not a few, is theintroduction of the AZ1 Neural Engine chip, integrated in the Mediatek MT8512 processor, to increase the capabilities of Echo in Deep Learning. In the future, thanks to this addition, Alexa’s voice recognition model will benefit greatly, with the ability to give more precise and faster answers.
For now, however, Italian is not among the languages that take advantage of the new function, which will arrive in the near future: Amazon’s commitment to improving Alexa’s understanding and conversation skills in Italian is there for all to see, so in the coming months we can only expect further steps forward. On the front of the smart features there are no news whatsoever, the experience in this field is the same seen in the previous models.
With the Echo Studio, Amazon had already managed to bring superior audio quality at a really attractive selling price. Now, with the fourth generation Echo, it does the same thing but in a lower cost range. This smart speaker offers excellent audio quality, always in relation to the price, already in a single configuration, which can only improve if you use two speakers in pairs. The ecosystem of products linked to Amazon is now enormous, between those produced directly by the American company and those compatible with Alexa, with practically endless possibilities to make your home smarter. In short, at this price the Amazon speaker is to be purchased with your eyes closed.