Earlier this year, Amazon announced that Amazon Sidewalk—a program that uses Ring cameras and Echo devices to transmit wireless signals that other smart home devices can use—would open to all hardware developers. Anyone who wants to make a smart home gadget, like a speaker or lawnmower, can now make it Sidewalk-enabled to help it and other compatible devices stay online.
Of course, to make this work, you need a smart home populated by Echo and Ring devices. According to Amazon, sales of Alexa-enabled devices have surpassed half a billion, and the use of its voice assistant increased 35 percent last year. To help keep the momentum going, the company announced four new Echo devices: the next-generation Echo Show 5 with an upgraded speaker system, a redesigned Echo Show 5 Kids, all-new Echo Buds, and a new speaker called the Echo Pop.
Below, we’ve rounded up all the details on the latest additions to the Echo line. All of the new devices are available for preorder through Amazon. The Echo Show and Echo Pop will begin shipping on May 31, and the Echo Buds will ship June 7.
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The round, softball-sized Echo Dot is one of the cutest smart home speakers around. But the new, Echo Pop is even cuter, and it’s more affordable. It’s also slightly smaller than the Dot, making it a great option for surfaces where room is scarce, like shelves, windowsills, and bedside tables. And it comes in fun color options like Lavender Bloom and Midnight Tea, in addition to Charcoal and Glacier White.
On the front is a custom-designed directional speaker designed to provide full sound, while under the hood is an Amazon AZ2 Neural Edge processor for machine intelligence-based speech models. It comes with Eero built-in; if you own an Eero Wi-Fi network, you can use the Echo Pop to add up to 1,000 square feet of coverage.
And, as with other Echo devices, you can use Alexa to control your smart home, read audiobooks, and ask questions. It comes with support for the Matter standard, which means you can pair it with smart home gadgets made by companies that aren’t Amazon. The Echo Pop is $40.
New Echo Buds
If you’re in love with Alexa, Amazon’s Echo Buds (8/10, WIRED Recommends) are one of the best ways to keep it with you always. And the new Echo Buds are now half the price of the previous model. The new headphones don’t come with high-end features like noise cancellation, but you’ll get a variety of other worthy capabilities, including customizable tap controls and multipoint pairing (allowing you to pair and switch between two devices at the same time), and yes, hands-free access to your favorite voice assistant.
In terms of sound quality, each earbud packs a 12-millimeter driver and two microphones. There’s a voice-detection accelerometer, which Amazon says can distinguish between the person speaking on a call and the people speaking in their vicinity. As for battery life, you’ll get up to five hours on a single charge while listening to music and using Alexa. With the carrying case fully charged, you’ll get up to 20 hours of total playtime. The Echo Buds are $50.
Echo Show 5
With the latest Show smart display, Amazon made some internal improvements. As with the Echo Pop, it packs an Amazon’s homegrown processor for tasks that handle speech. It also supports the new Matter smart home standard. Compared to its predecessor, the new Echo Show 5 is 20 percent faster. It packs a redesigned speaker system that, according to Amazon, provides clearer sound with better bass response. Amazon also put in a reengineered microphone array. Of course, its improvements remain to be heard in person.
At WIRED, we were not huge fans of the Echo Show 5—particularly because we thought the screen was a bit too cramped. But if a larger screen isn’t important, it’s a solid choice for those who don’t want to drop too much money on a smart display. The redesigned Echo Show is $90.
Echo Show 5 Kids
Amazon makes several kid-friendly versions of its home speakers. In addition to being devastatingly adorable, these kids’ speakers also come with a two-year worry-free warranty, eye-catching designs, and a year’s subscription to Kids+, Amazon’s program that offers unlimited access to age-appropriate movies, books, videos, games, and Alexa skills.
The new Echo Show 5 Kids has a space-themed design and has the ability to recruit Alexa for age-appropriate games, stories, and homework help. As usual, parents and guardians will have access to parental controls with the ability to review activities, adjust age settings, and set bedtimes. It’s available in the US, the UK, and Germany. The Echo Show 5 Kids is $100.
The Echo Auto is Amazon’s attempt to turn your car into another place for an Alexa speaker. It’s a slim device with an adhesive mount to attach it unobtrusively to your dashboard. Onboard are five microphones, so it can pick up your voice when you want to ask for a music playlist or podcast or even add items to your grocery list using Alexa commands. While it was released several years ago, it’s now available in eight additional countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the UK.