Amazon Echo Plus
The upper end of Amazon’s audio Echo line sticks more closely to the original Echo design, at least outwardly. Available in looming black, this hefty cylinder retains the size and dotted speaker grille of its forebear. Volume is controlled by asking Alexa nicely to set it to a specific level or by tweaking the rotating volume collar on the top. Like its more squat sibling, there’s a new Dolby-powered speaker package installed, and this unit’s size gives rise to a somewhat larger and more resonant sound despite the identical audio hardware. The Echo Plus is much more than a smart speaker, though. Amazon has brought in Zigbee support, meaning the Echo Plus operates as a proper home hub, controlling your smart devices directly rather than interfacing with their own hubs. This should (if your devices are compatible, as tons are) vastly simplify and speed up any home setup, and the Alexa app automatically sniffs around your home to find relevant kit, making it easy to set up. At least in theory: its home hub portion feels somewhat lacking, although we’d gamble on it improving as the Echo Plus ages.
THE FINAL WORD
An Echo but so much more – once the home hub teething troubles are sorted, this will be unbeatable.