While the smarts inside stay more or less the same, Amazon’s redesigned second-gen Echo does things a little differently on the outside. Sure, until Amazon finish setting up in Aus you’ll still have to import it, but the effort is worth it. This second gen model has had its edges smoothed, its height chopped, and been wrapped in subtle cloth cladding, possibly so it no longer stands out like such a looming black tech monolith in the corner of the average living room. There’s a wood finish option available, too, if oak and walnut accents are more your thing, and a metallic version, though the non-cloth editions cost extra. The audio package has been completely revamped, with a new bottom-firing subwoofer and dedicated tweeters, all armed with Dolby processing. Frankly, it fires out a really appealing sound, with decent bass tone and perfect clarity for spoken word audio.
This is, in every aspect, a better Echo than its predecessor. It’s not flawless – though the already-great microphone array has received both a hardware and software upgrade, Alexa has an occasional tendency to ignore commands issued in a noisy environment, particularly if the Echo is blasting at full volume or you’re projecting your voice quietly. While we’re being picky, we’d have appreciated a more granular level of volume control than the 10 notches on offer, and the lack of an auxiliary input means you’re stuck with streaming audio only.
THE FINAL WORD
A better Echo at an even sweeter price point than before. Smart home fanatics might be better off with the Echo Plus, though.