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better sound and new functions

by archyde

Amazon is modernizing its Echo speaker range with new models that promise better sound, taking advantage of a temperature sensor and even a Wi-Fi repeater mode to extend a home wireless network.

In a flurry of announcements on September 28, 2022 to present its new products, Amazon has not forgotten its range of Echo connected speakers which also benefit from several new features. It must be said that these audio devices have been very successful since the introduction of the first model on the market in 2014 – especially since they are regularly offered at knockdown prices during promotional operations. And the American giant continues to improve them over the generations, whether in terms of quality or functionality. This is obviously the case for the 2022 vintage.

Echo Dot 2022: a 5th generation in clear progress

Thus, while retaining the pretty spherical format adopted a few years ago – replacing the flat cylinder since abandoned – the Echo Dot 2022 – fifth generation – sees its capacities significantly improved. If the exterior does not change, the interior has been revised to produce better quality sound and in particular “twice as serious” according to Amazon, still using two speakers – a full-range and a tweeter, for clearer and more intelligible voices, all in mono, of course.

© Amazon

The manufacturer has also changed the processor that equips the Echo Dot for a more powerful model, the AZ2 Neural Edge, able to process information and execute commands more quickly. An appreciable detail insofar as the speaker is equipped with an accelerometer associated with new touch controls allowing actions to be triggered manually, without going through the voice with Alexa, the intelligent assistant automatically integrated into the products. of the Echo range. Amazon promises that it becomes easier to mute the sound, pause playback or interrupt programmed timers, for example. Better still, the Echo Dot is enriched with a temperature sensor that can be used in many situations and routines, for example to control a connected thermostat regulating a heating system or a fan. Original ! This adds to the potential of the speakers, already equipped with an ultrasonic motion sensor.

That’s not all ! The Echo Dot 2022 can also act as a repeater Wi-Fi, helping to extend the range of a home wireless network. An excellent idea that could be useful to many users. But this function is reserved for Eero mesh Wi-Fi systems, which Amazon has been offering in its catalog for a few years after buying the brand’s technology. If the question of the quality of coverage arises, given the small space available internally for effective antennas, we can only welcome the idea which significantly increases the possibilities of the enclosure. It should also be noted that this new function will also be brought to the fourth generation Echo Dot, via a simple software update (firmware) available in the coming months. Well seen !

© Amazon

All these improvements are also integrated into the other model, the Echo Dot with clock. Better, the LED display has also been revised to be able to display something other than the time: thanks to a better density of points, it can indicate the name of a song or an artist while music is playing, give weather information or even results of calculations and conversions. Gadget functions, but always good to take.

The Echo Dot and the Echo Dot with clock will be available from October 20 for respective prices of 60 and 80 euros (we round up!), i.e. at the same price as the models they replace. But Amazon already offers them for pre-order on its site! And even begins to sell the old Echo Dot (4th generation): enough to take advantage of a nice reduction…

Echo Studio 2022: in the era of spatialized sound

At the other end of the range, Amazon is also developing the Echo Studio, its large format connected speaker. Again, no exterior change, we remain on the elegant cylinder of the current model. Amazon doesn’t say much about the interior changes, including the speakers used, still five in number, but says the frequency response has been improved to deliver richer, clearer sound, with a midrange for precise and a deeper bass – to be checked in practice. Above all, thanks to a software improvement, the Echo Studio 2022 manages the famous spatialized audio, which is supposed to widen the stereo sound stage in several dimensions by psychoacoustic processes, delays and clever matrixing – the latest world in date in the field of audio, which is all the rage among Apple aficionados… –, an “immersive” technology that Amazon describes in a didactic document. The idea is to allow users of the Amazon Music music service to enjoy titles with spatialized audio, but also to extend the sound field with simple stereo. It should be noted that this new restitution mode is in addition to the other “immersive” rendering technologies already present, the essential Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio.

Again, the price of the Echo Studio is unchanged from the previous generation model, which drops for the occasion: it is still set at 200 euros, for availability on October 20.

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