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Amazon Echo 3rd Gen. Review: Get Plethora Of Upgrades Without Shelling An Extra Dime
Amazon is constantly adding new Alexa-powered devices to its product line-up. The company recently unveiled its 2019 range of Alexa smart devices at its Seattle headquarters. A total of 15 new products were unveiled, including the powerful Dolby-Atmos equipped Echo Studio speaker, Echo Buds truly wireless headphones, Echo Loop smart ring, fascinating Echo frames with built-in microphones and even an oven powered by the company's Alexa AI assistant.
- Better Sound Delivery At Same Price
- Premium Fabric-Mesh Design
- Alexa Is Smarter Than Before To Handle Voice-commands
- Better Adapts To Indian Household Ecosystem
- Alexa Companion App Needs Refinements
- Microphones Could Use Some Improvements
Sadly only three of them made it to the Indian market, including the all-new Amazon Echo Studio, Echo Dot and the new Amazon Echo, the 2019 variant of the original Echo smart speaker. Amazon has not increased the price of the 3rd gen. Echo smart speaker. It is still priced at Rs. 9,999, i.e. the original price of the first-generation Echo; however, a lot has changed.
The 2019 version of the Amazon Echo brings a new fabric design and improved specs for better audio delivery. The Alexa is now smarter than before and adapts to a diverse set of Indian customer needs.
Besides testing the new Amazon Echo as a standalone smart speaker; we also paired it with the Fire TV stick to experience the Alexa Home Theatre System. We will share all the steps to help you create the Alexa Home Theatre system at home in a different post. Today we will talk about the new Amazon Echo 2019 in detail the following review.
Amazon Echo 3rd Gen. Specifications
The all-new Amazon Echo is powered by a 3.0" (76.2 mm) neodymium woofer and 0.8" (20 mm) tweeter. The bundled power adaptor supplies 30W of current to power the smart speaker. The 3rd gen. Echo weighs 1.3 kgs and measures 5.8" x 3.9" x 3.9". For connectivity, it supports dual-band Wi-Fi- 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz) networks. It also comes equipped with A2DP support for audio streaming via mobile devices and from Echo to Bluetooth speakers.
The Echo 2019 does not support hands-free voice control for Mac OS X devices. The smart speaker can stream music from Amazon Prime Music, Saavn, Apple Music, Tunein, Hungama and Gaana.
Amazon Echo 3rd Gen. Setup
Like other Alexa-powered devices, the new Echo also requires a companion application to help you get started with the smart responses. The setup process is fairly simple but the Alexa app still fails to offer a seamless user experience.
The company hasn't managed to address the buggy interface on the Alexa app. It freezes rather frequently and crashes too often. I am using the Alexa app on multiple Android devices and the longer-than-usual load times are a real pain.
Design- Fabric Mesh Looks Attractive And More Personal
Amazon Echo 2019 reminds us of the Echo Plus. It gets the similar cylindrical shape design and ‘Fabric Mesh' casing that hides the speaker grille and gives it a more user-centric and personal look and feel. We got the grey color variant which looks very subtle and perfectly blends with our office and home interiors. You also have the option to buy the new Amazon Echo in the all-new blue color variant and a black color version which looks wonderful.
The power port and an AUX-out port are placed at the rear of the Echo 2019. You can use the AUX-out port to connect the smart speaker with traditional music systems if you find the audio delivery limited for a big living-room setup. As far as the basic controls are concerned, the buttons are placed on the top. These include volume controls, mute button and an action button to summon Alexa.
Overall, the Echo 2019 is a smart speaker looks good and brings a very functional smart speaker design that easily blends with the surroundings.
Amazon Echo 3rd Gen. Audio Delivery
Before we dive into the Alexa user-experience, let's talk about the audio delivery on the 3rd gen. Echo. The smart speaker is powered by a 3-inch woofer and a 0.8-inch tweeter which are placed inside a 5.8-inch tall and 3.9-inch wide cylindrical chamber. It is the same audio setup that the company had offered with the Amazon Echo Plus smart speaker.
The reasonably sized cylindrical body gives enough space to the woofer and tweeter to create loud audio delivery suitable for a medium to the large-sized living room. The sound set up inside the Echo 2019 is also powered by Dolby to play 360° audio. The sound produced is immersive than the previous generation Echo smart speakers. The new audio setup ensures deeper bass and much detailed mids and highs for clearer sound delivery.
The clarity in the audio is more pronounced when you tune in to podcasts, news briefings and vocal-centric music files. I have kept the Amazon Echo 3rd gen. in my bedroom but the news briefings can be heard even at the farthest spot on the 2,600 square-feet area when audio is set to maximum.
When kept in the living room, the Echo 3rd gen. ensured a decent amount of loudness to fill the room while playing music, podcasts, news briefings and also during voice-activated Alexa commands. However, you would still feel the need to connect the smart speaker with an external music setup to enjoy action flicks for a truly immersive audio experience in your living room.
We still haven't got our hands on the Amazon Alexa Studio. The smart speaker seems like an all-in-one solution for all your audio requirements at home or in office.
Amazon Alexa User-Experience
You can set up the 3rd gen. Amazon Echo to interact with Alexa in English, Hindi or even in Hinglish. The AI engine seemed pretty responsive in replying to voice commands in all three aforementioned languages. The Echo 2019 was quick to answer all our day-to-day queries related to music, weather, news, reminders, traffic updates, etc. However, the ability to response suffers when the audio is blasting at maximum volume. Make sure you have not placed the Echo in a corner or right next to a wall as the blasting music can create a reverberating effect that can interfere with the voice commands.
If you have multiple Echo devices at home, you can sync them to play music at once. It is a neat feature to create a party-like atmosphere at home or office where all your Alexa-powered devices stream music with just one simple voice command.
Moreover, you can also control the Alexa' speaking pace as per your convenience. Simply ask Alexa to speak slower or faster. Alexa's AI engine supports four faster speaking rates and two slower speaking rates. If you want Alexa to speak at its original pace, simply say, "Alexa, speak at your default rate."
Alexa's routines also come in handy, letting you execute multiple smart home commands with a single voice command. Alexa prompts you to set up a routine and it works like a charm. Overall, with support for over 500 Alexa skills, the Echo 3rd gen. was able to respond pretty well for almost all of our commands. The company is also working towards adding some new useful features which will help you auto delete voice recordings and send voice commands in whisper mode.
The 3rd gen. Amazon Echo is a definite step up from the previous generation Echo smart speakers. The company has improved the classic Echo smart speaker in every aspect without increasing the price-point. You get better sound delivery and premium feel and finish with fabric-mesh design at the same original price tag of Rs. 9,999. The Alexa is also smarter than before and better understands Indian users' verbal commands for hands-free responses.
Overall, the 3rd gen. Amazon Echo is a great buy if you are eying a smart speaker for home or office. All that I expect from Amazon is to resolve issues with the Alexa companion app to deliver a seamless smart speaker user-experience.