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Amazon Echo Plus (Second Generation) Review: Less, Higher and Equally Smart



The second generation Amazon Echo Plus is here, and it has a radical redesign compared to its predecessor. It's shorter (but slightly wider), has a larger speaker and a fabric mask that brings Plus in line with the rest of the Echo family. It is also the only Echo device that has a built-in home button to control ZigBee-supported devices.

So is it worth the £ 139 price tag? We've spent some time using Alexa-powered smart speakers to see if it's one of the best smart speakers on the market, and here's our review.

How much does Amazon Echo Plus cost?

Before we dive into the properties of the second genre Echo Plus, let's discuss pricing. The second genus Echo Plus is available on Amazon right now for £ 1

39.99 in the UK, whereas in the United States it can pick it up for $ 149.99. The good news is that Amazon currently offers a free Philips Hue incandescent bulb with orders from Echo Plus to help users start their smart home, which makes it a little more tempting.

Those who want an upgraded audio experience have the opportunity to purchase a package consisting of two Echo Plus speakers and an echo sub to 299.99 NOK / 329.97.

The price tag puts Echo Plus in the height of the Echo speaker. It's £ 90 more than the basic Echo Dot and £ 50 more than standard Echo. Does it justify justifying extra money? Continue reading to find out.

An updated design

Echo Plus has had a radical redesign which we think is a big improvement on the original Echo Plus. The second genre Plus has pushed the shiny plastic body and drilled the speaker holes, and instead chose a fabric mask coating that brings the design into line with the rest of the Echo family. It must also be said that it looks like Google Home Max and HomePod, Google and Apple's advanced smart speakers.

The second genre Echo Plus is available in three colors; Coal, Heather Gray and Sandstone, which are mainly white. The new design helps the Echo Plus mix into the home environment, instead of protruding like a bad thumb as the original did.

You'll find four buttons on the lid of Echo Plus that control volume, mute the microphone array and enable Alexa. Like the mesh fabric design, the controls are now collected over the echo area, but this also means that Amazon has dragged the physical volume selector present on the original device.

The second genre Echo Plus is not as high as the first device, but it is slightly wider measurements of 148 x 99 x 99 mm compared to 235 x 84 x 84 mm. This is a good reason, as the new Echo Plus houses a larger 3-inch speaker and 0.8in tweeter for enhanced audio output – but we will go into the following below.

Enhanced Speakers

As mentioned, the second major upgrade is in the new Echo Plus in the audio department. Echo Plus has a 3-inch speaker and 0.8-inch tweeter to provide a versatile audio output enhancement, with a noticeable increase in total volume compared to first-gen Plus. It's not all that's new either; Thanks to Dolby Play 360 audio support, the cylindrical speaker produces room-full audio without noticeable sweet spot.

The sound quality, as you expect, is impressive for a speaker at this price. The sound is crisp and clear, the vocals are hot and it has a strong bass presence, making it the ideal speaker, whatever your taste in music. It's not a perfect listening experience, though the lack of a sub- or passive bass radiator means that the bass presence decreases as the volume increases.

You can get a wireless part to connect Plus to an additional cost. I also have the option to pair up two Echo Plus devices for stereo music output.

All Alexa Smarts You Want

A feature that distinguishes Echo Plus from other devices in the Echo family is built into Zigbee smart home support. This also makes a good choice for those who have smart home technology (light bulbs, switches, thermostats, electrical outlets, etc.) that boasts ZigBee support, but it's worth noting that not all smart tech supports it.

Someone can choose to use Wi-Fi for communication, or simply use another radio frequency for ZigBee, so it's not a one-size-fits-all option. Companies that support the standard include Honeywell, Philips, Samsung SmartThings and Belkin, but you should check your ZigBee support technology to be sure.

Echo Plus can also control smart home kits that offer Alexa integration, but it's not unique to Plus; The entire Echo series can control Alexa-supported smart home-set. If you do not have any ZigBee drive set and do not care about a slightly better sounding speaker, you may want to save some money and download the second genre Echo.

A recent update to Alexa app introduced routines, allowing you to control multiple devices or trigger multiple skills with a single command. For example, say "Good morning Alexa" and get the smart assistant to turn on the bedroom lamp, turn on the kettle and play the morning meeting.

Aside from controlling smart home technology, Amazon's smart assistant can handle a variety of requests. From playing music through Spotify or Amazon Music to give you a custom morning briefing and even meowing on command (do not ask), Alexa has a smarts. It is down to the various skills available to Alexa through the Alexa app for iOS and Android which extends functionality in impressive (and sometimes weird) ways.

For more information on how to make the most of Alexa, take a look at our guide to using Amazon Alexa.

Rating

The second generation Echo Plus is an improvement on the entire original, not only in terms of design but also sound quality. Textile design is a welcome change and helps Echo Plus seamlessly interfere with the home environment.

The larger 3-inch speaker and 0.8in tweeter provide crisp sound with good bass presence, and thanks to a built-in smart hub, Echo Plus can also control a variety of ZigBee smart home devices (in addition to Alexa-supported smart tech).

If you're looking for an all-in-one device that has smart and decent room-filling sound quality, Echo Plus is the ideal option.


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