Amazon today announced an updated version of their Echo speaker called the Echo Plus. The new device looks the same as the original Echo that you’re probably familiar with, but the big difference with this new Echo Plus is that it doubles as a smart home hub.
The Echo Plus offers improved speakers over the original Echo and now also has Dolby processing for even better sound. It has the same familiar tubular shape, but the most important change is on the inside.
Alexa is able to connect to a wide assortment of smart home devices through the cloud, but many of those devices require their own specific hubs to connect those devices to the cloud. The most common example of this is the Philips Hue hub which is necessary to use any Philips Hue products.
The new Echo Plus acts like a universal hub by connecting directly to a wide assortment of smart home devices that normally require a hub, without needing the hub. Right now the ZigBee hub specification is supported, which covers many products such as Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, SYLVANIA SMART+, and more.
The Echo Plus is available to pre-order today for $149.99 and will be released on October 31. It comes in the usual Black or White of the original Echo, but adds a new Silver color to the lineup.
For a limited time, Amazon is including a Philips Hue bulb for free with purchases of the Echo Plus. This hub normally requires the Philips Hue hub to work, but will be discovered by the Echo Plus without needing a hub.