Amazon unveils the $199 Echo Studio, its answer to the Apple HomePod and Google Home Max

Today at a special event Amazon unveiled a bevy of new Echo devices including several aimed a bit upmarket.  The Echo Studio is Amazon’s answer to the Google Nest Max and Apple HomePod. It’s larger than a normal Echo, supports 3D audio and Dolby Atmos.

The seems to have device five drivers: one, downward facing woofer, front-firing tweeter and three mid-range speakers aimed at different directions. Inside are several microphones that allow the speaker to work like a standard Echo device.

“It is the most innovative speaker we have ever built and has unbelievable sound,” said David Limp, SVP of Devices at Amazon. “It has space, it has clarity, has depth.”

Amazon entered this market last year with the Amazon Echo Link and Echo Link Amp. Both were clearly designed for consumers looking for a better way to bring voice services to existing home audio systems. The Echo Studio enters the same space but in a different way. Consumers looking for better sound with Alexa no longer have to lean on a traditional audio system.

The speaker is supposed to produce improved audio placement by bouncing sound off walls. Like the Apple HomePod, this design allows consumers to get near-surround sound quality from a single speaker — though we’ll have to test the two speakers side-by-side to hear the differences. Also like the HomePod, the Echo Studio suppots stereo pairing, too, allowing two speakers to play the part of left and right speakers.

The Echo Studio joins an ever-increasing amount of Echo speakers. At $ 199 (and available to pre-order today) the speaker sits just $ 50 more than an Echo Plus. Or $ 30 less than two Echo Dots with an Echo Sub. Or, the same price as two $ 99 Echo speakers that are also capable of stereo virtualization. Amazon has long offered Echo products at various price-points and it seems it’s content on continuing that trend.

At the same event, Amazon also unveiled a new $ 99 Echo device and a $ 59 Echo Dot with built in clock called, appropriately, Echo Dot with Clock. The company also announced multilingual support allowing Alexa to respond to multiple languages at once.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

Two Sonos One speakers now cost $349 – the same as one Apple HomePod

 Sonos is offering a special limited deal for its new Sonos One smart speaker, which works with Amazon’s Alexa right now, and is gaining support for Google Assistant in a future update: You can buy two for $ 349, which is the same price as one of Apple’s HomePod Siri-enabled speakers. This is likely not a coincidence.
Individually, the Sonos One retails for $ 199, so you get a $ 50… Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch

HomePod firmware reveals iPhone 8 design and facial recognition

 Last week, Apple released the firmware of its upcoming smart speaker, the HomePod. It sounds like it was pushed out a bit earlier than expected as it isn’t supposed to come out until later this year. Steve Troughton-Smith took advantage of that to find out that the next iPhone is going to feature facial recognition and a brand new “bezel-less” design. Patents and previous… Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch