- Great audio
- Friendly design
- Easy to install
- Temperature sensor
- Restricted smart home features
Buy it. Echo Plus provides a smart home hub and powerful intelligent speaker in one device that offers significantly better sound than its predecessor.
The line between Echo Plus and other speakers in its composition is blurred. Last year's "Plus" calling cards were high-quality sound and built-in smart-home hotspots. However, this year's Echo Show has emerged as the smart home center, and several third-party devices, such as Sonos One and Sonos Beam, as well as the Amazon-flourishing Echo Sub, have set the standard for a new, high quality smart speaker audio standard.
It is unclear what role Echo Plus (US $ 149.99, U.K. 139.99 pounds sterling) will be in the coming years. But the second-generation speaker in its own right, with a new, up-to-date design, improved audio and a couple of interesting new features.
Complex installation can create obstacles for starting a smart home. Echo devices, however, are one of the easiest smart devices to create and operate, and the new Echo Plus is no exception.
To get started, just plug in this loudspeaker. The blue ring turns to the top of the speaker about 45 seconds. Then swipe your device over to the Alexa application on your phone and you're good to go. As long as my phone takes a few minutes to find some smart home appliances, it immediately found Echo Plus.
In general, setting up Echo Plus took less than 2 minutes – the shortest time I needed to create an Alexa device.
Design: new, but so familiar
Last year Echo Plus looked like a longer, thinner, original Echo version. It was all glossy plastic material with a floor surface.
The new Echo Plus has followed Echo again – the second generation Echo, that is, in the footsteps of Echo. At the moment, it covers the same fabric that covers 2017 Echo (as well as the 2018 echo point and Echo Show).
It is also shorter and more stouter than the older Plus. It looks less like an alien-built tower, and more like a speaker that will fit into a modern living room or kitchen. In general, it is a good device and a significant upgrade from its predecessor.
However, there is one thing that I would like about the original Plus: buttons. Older Plus has a button to activate Alexa, to turn off the microphone and turn it on, and the circular number you turn on to control volume. I really liked the sense of this number, because when I swapped up and down to adjust the audio, it was effortless.
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The new Plus has replaced this dial with two volume buttons. All four buttons are considerably harder to press than the original, and it's painful to quickly transform the hammer (as you would with the volume button).
Smart-Home Control: It's there
Most smart devices, such as smart lights, lights, locks and motion sensors, do not have battery power to connect directly to a Wi-Fi network. Instead, they use a technology called Z-Wave or ZigBee to connect to a smart home hub that sends a signal to the router.
Some devices, such as Philips Hue and Sengled starter kits, fly with their own hubs. You can also buy a third-party hub, such as Samsung SmartThings. But the Echo Plus comes with a built-in hub, so you will not need these products to build your smart home.
Echo Plus's easy-to-use home appliance is easy to add. All you need to do to set up the Philips Hue Smart Bulb is turned on and say "Alexa, Discover the Devices."
After scanning for about 3 seconds, Alexa told me that I had found a bulb and called it First Light. From now on, I can control First Light using the Alexa program or voice command. (You can rename your devices in Alexa.) It was the fastest fastest setting for smart ballasts ever made.
This means that Echo Plus can accommodate only a limited range of devices. In particular, it works with devices that are enabled with ZigBee (including the Philips Hue bulb and the Amazon smart plug itself), but it does not support Z-Wave devices (such as August Smart Lock and Schlage Connect). If you want to set up these devices, you will need a different node, such as SmartThings V3 or Wink Hub 2.
Credit: AmazonAnother thing to keep in mind: After you move your device to Echo Plus, you can manage your device in the Alexa application. This is convenient because it allows you to control all smart home appliances by brand in one easy place.
However, it also means that you can no longer control these devices in their proprietary software brands. This means that when the Philips Hue bulb is connected to your Echo Plus, you can no longer enjoy the benefits that the Philips Hue app can offer.
That's a pity, because the Alexa application does not provide many intelligent home automation features. For example, in the Philips Hue application, you can automate the lighting to turn on during the sunrise and sunset, or when you come and leave your home. In the Alexa application, you can not link the routine with many other than voice commands.
The new Plus has a built-in thermometer, so you can also set up Alexa to, say, turn on the fan when your bedroom is getting higher than 70 degrees. We believe this is quite accurate (in grade or so).
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You also need to keep your devices in one area. I was able to drive devices about 40 to 50 feet away from my Echo Plus; after that it lost connection. This range is acceptable but not as large as the SmartThings V3, which can reach up to 130 feet (depending on your home).
In general, Echo Plus will help simplify the settings for smartphone owners for the first time. But it may not support every device you want to use, and you will not be able to do anything too extensively.
Alexa: smarter than before
Echo Plus resides within the Amazon voice assistant Alexa. Alexa can call you Uber, order a pizza, report weather, tell a joke or something else you may need. In fact, since September, Amazon's voice assistant had around 50,000 third-party skills.
In our latest voice assistant crash, Alexa swept Apple Siri out of the water and only slightly exceeded his competitor, the Google Assistant.
Alexa's greatest strength is general knowledge. It answers questions quickly, thoroughly and usually more accurately than Google's helper (despite the fact that it has access, well, Google).
Another handy feature: you can use Alexa to call a friend (as long as their phone has Alexa) or send text messages (if you have an Android phone). Calling from Echo Plus was very simple and I clearly heard another caller's voice. (You can not use it to call 911.)
One of the main areas where Alexa is lacking, however, is providing guidance. When I asked Alexa for directions to my apartment on Manhattan's Main Street, it gave me a ramp to the main street address in Rhode Island. Google, on the other hand, blows back the exact metro paths to my apartment.
Alexa, using Echo Plus, responded on average 2 seconds to questions that looked rather reactive, but not so fast to feel human conversation. The Google Support team included the same amount of time in my iOS app.
Audio: great, but not so much a bonus
The new Echo Plus could be the first Amazon response to Google Home Max and Apple HomePod. It provides much better audio than its predecessor, as well as the original Echo. It will serve most people as the main source of music for half or barbecue.
Plus does not provide as much bass as the Amazon's larger Echo Sub, but it's still quite present and much louder than it is for Parental Plus. As the second-generation Plus played Michael Jackson's "Thriller" on a wooden table, I felt that the bassline was vibrating down the legs. I could also explain each individual guitar, Smash Mouth's "All Star", until they all blurred along with the first generation Plus.
However, although the high and low frequencies were quite strong, I found midrange toones dirty. That makes sense because the Echo Plus features a 0.8 inch tweeter and 3 inches of low frequency, but no midrange speaker. Even with very careful listening to Backstreet Boys in the lower, multi-part harmonies, "I want it that way," I could not explain individual voices.
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This means you can use the Alexa Equalizer mode with voice commands or the Alexa program to adjust the high, mid, and bottom tones of any song.
In general, while premium systems such as Sonos One provide sharper audio, Echo Plus can definitely act as the ultimate source of music for half or barbecue. And if you are not satisfied with its sound, you can always overlay Plus with a larger speaker, such as the new Echo Sub or the other Echo Plus, using multiroom audio.
Echo Plus is a great smart home hub and a great cute speaker, but it's not the best in both categories. This means that if you are looking to start a smart home or want an Alexa speaker with better audio than other Echos can provide, Echo Plus is worth a $ 149 price tag.
Credit: Tom & # 39; s Guide