The Plus sits above the £90 2nd-gen Echo in Ama­zon’s smart speaker line-up. De­spite its im­proved chops, it costs less than the orig­i­nal Echo. Does your phone have a semi-per­ma­nent res­i­dence down the side of your sofa? Grab the Trackr skill and it’ll ring your phone loudly. Even when it’s on silent. Still the eas­i­est way to brainify your home, Philips’ Hue light­bulbs can be turned on and off with both your phone and your voice thanks to Alexa. Like the Echo Dot, the Plus has a 3.5mm au­dio-out socket, mean­ing you can plug it into ex­ter­nal speak­ers if the on­board au­dio isn’t good enough. Left it too late to get the train into town? Give Uber a shout on your Echo and it’ll or­der a car to your front door. Setup can be a lit­tle tricky but it’s worth it. On first look, the Plus looks al­most iden­ti­cal to the orig­i­nal first-gen Echo. There are no stylis­tic changes, save that it now comes in sil­ver as well as black and white. It’s got the same di­men­sions, the same plas­tic build with speaker grille around its lower half and vol­ume/no­ti­fi­ca­tions ring around the top. Two years is a long time in gad­get-land, and that in­dus­trial cylin­der look just no longer cuts it – es­pe­cially com­pared to the slick new Sonos One and Ap­ple Homepod.

2 Emer­gency basses

In­ter­nally, the Plus has a new speaker setup con­sist­ing of a 2.5in woofer and 0.8in tweeter, and this makes for much im­proved au­dio play­back. There’s more weight, depth and bass to your tunes, so you can hap­pily sit through whole al­bums with­out gnash­ing your teeth. But Sonos re­mains on top for this sort of stuff by quite a mar­gin – so long as you’re happy to pay a lit­tle bit ex­tra.

3 Smarter than Hue

Since it has its own built-in smart home hub, you can buy a Philips Hue light­bulb and con­nect it to the Echo Plus – rather than hav­ing to buy Philips’ own Hue hub for an­other £50. Beyond Hive and Sam­sung’s Smart­things, though, there aren’t a whole load of other prod­ucts that sup­port this fea­ture. So you’ll prob­a­bly still be stuck with a bunch of dif­fer­ent hubs fight­ing for space around your router.

4 My im­per­fect cussin’

If you have hooked up a de­vice di­rectly to the Plus, you’ll now be able to use the Alexa app to con­trol it. The only trou­ble is, the level of con­trol you get is in some cases nowhere near what you’d get via the de­vice’s ac­tual app. For ex­am­ple, the Hue app let’s you choose from thou­sands of colour tones; Alexa does not. It feels like a nice idea that just hasn’t been prop­erly ex­e­cuted yet.


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