At its annual fall event, Amazon showed off its brand-new Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock. The fifth generation of the smaller spherical speakers has been seriously souped-up. While they sport the same look, they have a completely redesigned audio architecture under the hood that delivers two times the bass of the prior model.
Plus, the Alexa-powered smart speakers now use Amazon’s AZ2 neural edge processor that allows them to do more actions locally. There’s also a new temperature sensor, new tap gesture controls, and the Dots can double as Wi-Fi extenders for an Eero Mesh system.
Additionally, the popular Echo Dot with Clock model has had its LED dot display upgraded. It’s now brighter and, with a higher resolution, can offer up more dynamic, glanceable info than the previous version.
That includes a scrolling view of the song title and artist of the track you’re listening to, the weather, a calculation or unit of measurement, and calendar event times.
The Echo Dot gets a new deep sea blue color and remains at $49.99, while the Echo Dot with Clock has a new cloud blue option, in addition to the original glacier white, for $59.99. There are also two new Echo Dot Kids ($59.99) featuring owl and dragon designs that can talk to your child in new owl and dragon-inspired voices.
Preorders start today, and Dots will ship next month. The characterful Dots include a one-year subscription to Kids Plus and a two-year warranty.
The new Dots come with new sensors, including a temperature sensor, which lets you set up Alexa smart home Routines to do things like turn on your smart fan when the room gets too warm or turn up your smart thermostat if the temperature drops.
There’s also an accelerometer that adds more tap gestures. Previously you could tap on top of the Dot to snooze the alarm; now, you can pause and resume music, dismiss timers, or end a call with the gesture.
The Wi-Fi extending feature is probably the most interesting innovation here — at least if you own an Eero mesh Wi-Fi system. What’s particularly noteworthy is that this capability is also coming to the fourth-gen Echo (on October 20th) and the fourth-gen Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock at some point soon via a free over-the-air firmware update. I spoke with Eero CEO Nick Weaver about the new feature, so be sure to check out that blog for more details.
Echo Studio gets an over-the-air audio upgrade and a new color
Another Echo speaker, the Echo Studio, saw an upgrade at the fall event. Despite Amazon’s best-sounding speaker debuting way back in 2019, there’s no big redesign here. Instead, an over-the-air update will add new spatial audio processing technology and frequency range extension to improve the big boy speaker’s stereo sound.
Nedim Fresko, VP of Amazon devices, told The Verge in an interview that it mirrors the performance of a hi-fi stereo system, “Soundtracks feel closer with greater width, clarity, and presence, creating a more immersive sound experience.” Additionally, frequency range extension technology delivers better performance, improved midrange clarity, and deeper bass.
This spatial audio processing technology is also coming to the Echo Show 15 and will arrive on other compatible Echo devices in the future, according to Amazon. Spatial audio is a feature of the Amazon Music Unlimited service, which costs $8.99 a month.
The Studio is also getting the option of a new look, with a white version of the speaker now available for $199.99.
While several of Amazon’s existing Echo speakers have been out for a few years now, it’s quite refreshing that the company didn’t come out with a raft of new speakers to replace devices that are only two or three years old. Instead, it’s bringing new functionality to older devices, which is something literally no one can complain about.
However, it’s possible that we didn’t see a refresh of the flagship Echo fourth-gen speaker because the company is waiting on the new smart home standard Matter. Amazon has already confirmed that the speaker will be a Matter controller and a Thread border router. With Matter slated to launch sometime in the next few months, I think we’ll hear more news on the Echo speaker front soon.