They’re are finally arriving in Australia. We put Amazon’s smart speakers to the test.
It’s been nearly three years since the Amazon’s original smart speaker landed in US homes, but finally it’s available in Australia. If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos must be blushing right now. Since then, we’ve seen the release of the Google Home – which we reviewed when it arrived in Australia last year – and the likes of Apple and Sonos announcing their own answers to the question that nobody seemed to be asking a few short years ago.
Amazon is not resting on its laurels, though. Australia is actually getting the second-generation Echo 2, along with a new, larger model, the Echo Plus, and the tiny Echo Dot, which is designed to add smarts to an existing speaker system.
All three are due for release on 1 February but available for pre-order on the Australian Amazon website now, with the Echo Plus going for $229, the Echo 2 for $149 and the Echo Dot for $79.
Here we review the Echo 2 and the Echo Plus, but first let’s back up and explain what you’re getting here.
The Echo is a smart speaker. That means that as well as playing your music, audiobooks and podcasts, it can be controlled by the voice and act as a digital assistant – which is driven by Alexa, Amazon’s AI assistant. You can talk to the speaker and it will do its best to help you.
It will run through your itinerary, give you the weather forecast, read the latest news briefings, switch radio stations, call other Echo speakers, set timers and alarms, give you the answers to general questions and even tell jokes – all without the need to pick up a device or sit down at a keyboard is incredibly freeing.
Being an Amazon product, you can also use it to order products and play music through the company’s streaming services. But you’re not obliged to if you don’t want to, or if you're worried you or some stranger on the TV might accidentally order an expensive item.
Next: Amazon Echo 2 review