First look: Amazon Echo (3rd generation) gets new looks and sounds for 2019

Amazon's baseline speaker is still a key player

Early verdict: Amazon Echo 3rd generation
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With so many more interesting things launched during Amazon's big September bonanza, it was easy to forget the humble Echo also got an update.

Yes, the baseline Echo is still bumbling along nicely, now upgraded to the All-New Echo (as Amazon is calling it) – the third-generation version of the smart speaker.

Related reading: The complete guide to Alexa

The biggest changes are in the sound, as we got to hear during a demo at Amazon's Seattle event.

The new Echo benefits from some of the audio tech that's trickled down from the Echo Plus, which previously sat a tier above.

First look: Amazon Echo 3rd gen

The one thing the new Echo doesn't get, however, is the Zigbee radio – so, unlike the Echo Plus, you can't connect Zigbee devices directly to it and use it as a smart home hub.

It also doesn't have a temperature sensor, another feature of the Plus.

Inside is a 3-inch neodymium woofer and a 0.8-inch tweeter, which is an upgrade on the previous model and, as we say, brings it close to the Plus in terms of audio architecture.

Echo 3rd Gen
Echo 3rd Gen

It certainly sounded much better on bass than the second-gen model, but, as this was after our demo with the Echo Studio, it was never going to match up.

Still, Amazon's going in the right direction, and there's also a 3.5mm line in/out, should you want it, along with the option of Bluetooth.

The new Echo comes in charcoal, gray, sandstone, and – new for the third generation – a "twilight blue". It's quite nice.

First look: Amazon Echo 3rd gen

Other than that, this is your standard, wholesome Alexa experience.

For $99 it's a much more appealing smart speaker, thanks to the improved sound that shouldn't make us feel like we're punishing our ears for not investing in something from Sonos or Bang & Olufsen.

In time, Amazon's other cheaper products, like the Echo Dot or Flex, will catch up in sound quality, and the "regular" Echo may become redundant as a result.

But for the time being, this is still going to be the jumping off point for many, and Amazon is smart to keep it fresh.

Amazon Echo (third-generation): Initial verdict

The All-New Echo makes improvements where it counts. It's hard to get too excited about this – it's a small refresh on arguably Amazon's least exciting speaker – but it's a vital part of the Alexa ecosystem, and for many people, their first port of call.

TAGGED    speakers    amazon

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