- The Amazon Echo series has been redesigned. From the right of featured image above: Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot with Clock, Amazon Echo Dot.
- Fill your home with sound - With multi-room music, play synchronized music across Echo devices in different rooms. Or pair your Echo with compatible Fire TV devices to feel scenes come to life with home theater audio.
- Designed to protect your privacy - Built with multiple layers of privacy protections and controls, including a microphone off button that electronically disconnects the microphones.
Echo 4th Generation Review. Amazon has released the latest generation model of the Amazon Echo smart speaker series. Equipped with the original smarter AI assistant “Alexa”, I tried three smart speakers which turned the design into a “sphere”.
Deliveries begin in late October with the compact and affordable Echo Dot model, the Echo Dot with a Clock with a digital display clock function, and 2-way 2-speaker speakers. There are three Echo models with which you can enjoy the full-scale audio composition. The price including tax is USD 57 for the Echo Dot series and USD 115 for the Echo.
The Echo currently being tested at CnwinTech Lab is in Twilight Blue and the Echo Dot series tested in Glacier White.
Amazon Echo 4th Generation Review: The design is in sphere form. Let’s compare the sizes with old and new models
The first thing to worry about is the size. I set up a second-generation Echo Plus cylinder in the CnwinTech lab and a third-generation Echo Dot with a Clock whose height was shortened to about 1/4 of its size and compared the old and the new.
When the specifications of the old and new models of the Echo Dot series line up, their diameter is almost the same between 10 cm and the area where the installation is occupied does not change even if you look down from above. The height of the main body has almost doubled.
The Echo is shorter than the Echo Plus but also wider due to its rounded design. Maximum width 14.4 cm and height 13.3 cm. The mounting area is the same as the Echo Plus but takes up a little extra space on a shelf or table.
I think the design is all about taste, but I think it’s great to experience the excitement of a stylish European speaker brand product.
Echo and Echo Dot, the confrontation of sound quality, old vs new
Last September, Amazon held an online launch of its new Echo series. In a group interview with several reporters, the vice president of the Echo series, Miriam Daniel, said the biggest reason for changing the design of the new ball was “to keep it small and improve sound quality.” Let’s verify the sound quality as an audio device.
First, I compared the Echo Dot between the old model and the new model. Both the old and new Echo Dot series are equipped with a single 1.6-inch full-range speaker unit. The new Echo Dot series has a slightly tilted, forward-facing unit in a ball-shaped cage. Because of this, the vocal, piano and guitar melodies are powerful and easy to listen to. Alexa’s AI voice response also feels like a clear tongue.
The biggest difference is that the new Echo Dot has better stability in the mid to lower range. The effect of increasing the volume of the enclosure may be shown in a positive direction. When listening to the jazz piano trio performance, the essence of the bass line sound is stable and the stereoscopic effect of the sound image is enhanced. The mid-high range connection is also smooth.
The new Echo has evolved as an audio speaker
The new Echo has a round cover with one 3.0-inch woofer and two 0.8-inch tweeters. The Echo Plus consists of a 3.0-inch woofer and a 0.8-inch tweeter. When I listened to it while comparing them, the sound of the new Echo was clearly enriched.
The Echo Plus features beautiful high notes and high-impact lows. The tone is kind of cool and cool. The sound is clear and easy to listen to but feels a little uninformed compared to the new Echo.
The new Echo lowers the bass center of gravity and evens out the balance with the mid-high range. The vocalist’s voice has a smooth texture and a lasting finish. The chords on an acoustic guitar feel very warm. The overall tone tends to be warm. The amount of bass went up, but there was no feeling of lethargy. EDM tempo is fast and rock tunes can be enjoyed with a soft and light beat.
The new Echo is no longer an IoT gadget but appears to have evolved into a smart speaker that can be enjoyed as audio. The power of the bass is so great that if you put it on top of furniture like a light wood desk or a plastic office table, the bass will weigh down and you won’t be able to take full advantage of it. I like to use it by placing it on solid furniture, if not just for audio. As an alternative, to suppress unnecessary vibrations, simple ones can be used, so it is advisable to put an audio insulator (vibration dampening accessory) or an audio board under it.
Stereo / Fire TV Stick playback and home theater playback with 2 units
You can enjoy stereo playback with the two Echo Dot series. Pair two speakers from the Alexa app installed on your smartphone. Two Echo Dot series speakers, two Echo speakers, and so on, speakers of the same type and size can be paired in stereo. The Echo series big and small cannot be paired individually, or the Echo series from different generations cannot be paired.
After finishing the setup, I played and listened to Amazon Music HD songs on my smartphone. In addition, when listening in stereo playback, the sound image becomes denser and the room view is better in the depth direction. I enjoy full-scale speaker playback.
I try to output the sound from the content playing on the Fire TV Stick to the Echo Dot series in stereo pair and listen to it. It’s also easy to set up from the Alexa app.
It’s also ideal as an audio system that can easily tune out the poor speaker sound of a flat-screen TV. Nowadays, you can get a good soundbar that fits a flat-screen TV in the USD 286 range and is in some cases cheaper, but even if you buy the two Echo Dots and the newest Fire TV Stick in bulk, the TV costs around USD 162. You can make your TV sound rich, this Amazon device isn’t bad either.
Equipped with the original AZ1 chip. Alexa got smarter
All models of the Amazon Echo series due for release in 2020 are equipped with Amazon’s first-generation “Neural Edge AZ1 Processor”. Performance is enhanced by installing dedicated processors on several edge-side devices which are responsible for machine learning processing by Alexa, which was mostly done on the cloud side in the past.
Daniel from Amazon said, “The more you feel the smart home appliance remote control, the better the response in 100 milliseconds.” When I tried it with the Philips smart lighting “Hue” that I installed at home, the new Echo is certainly faster than the Echo Plus when turned on and off by voice operation. Those accustomed to the sound operation of smart home appliances will be able to notice the difference in ease of use.
Voice operation is not the only performance improvement of the AZ1 engine. In the United States, new features will be added sequentially by updating Alexa after the launch of the new Echo series. The content corresponds to a naturally ongoing conversation as if you were in a conversation with someone, so if the voice command issued by the user contains a word or phrase that Alexa doesn’t understand, Alexa will listen again. There is a self-study processing function.
“Voice recognition”, which is currently implemented in the Echo series and has been translated into Japanese, allows Alexa to identify the user by voice pattern and only send and receive messages from/to himself, or the Amazon Music Unlimited family pack. If you have a contract with Amazon, you can play your favorite music according to the sound of your family. In the United States, “Alexa Voice Profiles for Kids,” which automatically switches AI to child mode when a child’s voice is recognized in the family, will also be added. After switching, Alexa responds in a tone that speaks to the child and plays audiobook storytelling content.
In addition, “Amazon Sidewalk” uses Bluetooth LE and LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) wireless communication in the 900MHz band to deploy a wireless network to operate IoT devices with the Echo series in and around the home. There is a new feature called “Bridge”.
Amazon’s Daniel said, “Alexa has added a lot of innovation to the new Echo series to improve person-to-person communication. Some of the features are just getting started, but in the future, useful features will be added to the world. We want to expand its support so we can be used by Echo users living in every region.”
The sound quality of the new Echo series has improved dramatically as audio. In the future, as AI develops, it will become even more attractive as a smart device. Start with the affordable Echo Dot smart speaker series that will make you feel like you’ve bought the most.
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