Amazon has decided to host a last minute, secret event where it has unveiled the next generation of it’s Alexa-equipped Echo device with an all new design, a dedicated bass tweeter, as well as a new, lower price: $99. The device will have swappable shells (similar to Google Home) and will come packed with Dolby sound like the Echo Show. Amazon says the device will be available starting today, and they will also be selling a three pack to take advantage of the recently introduced multi-room audio feature.
Amazon also announced that Alexa will now be able to make phone calls to any number (a feature rival Google Home currently offers) with the Echo Connect, a $35 box which will also allow customers to call landlines, businesses and 911 with a only a voice command.
The box, which will launch in the US first (UK and Germany in early 2018) allows Alexa control over your conventional phone line. You will be able to make and receive calls in the home simply by telling it answer or ring a contact. But the box will also be able to use an existing landline number (if you still have one), which is something Google Home cannot currently offer (you can link up to a Google Voice number but strangely, you cannot receive phone calls with it). Plus, it all connects to other Echo devices around the home so you can call from an Echo speaker in your living room or a Dot in your bedroom.
Finally, Amazon also introduced the all new Echo Spot, an Echo device that resembles a small alarm clock, for $130.
The Spot has a 2.5-inch screen and is meant to bridge the gap between the Echo Dot and the Echo Show, joining a screen with the small form factor of the Dot. It’s a device that Amazon hopes will replace the Dot as one that can be placed throughout your home. “It works great as an alarm clock. But it does a lot more,” Amazon device chief Dave Limp said.
The Spot can be used to make video calls, like it’s larger screen counterpart. It has built-in sound, but like the Dot it also has a line out so that it can be connected to external speakers via a cable or Bluetooth for better, clearer sound.
The second generation Amazon Echo, Echo Connect and Echo Spot are available for pre-order starting today at Amazon.