Amazon’s Echo series of smart speakers are ideal for listening to music, but they are also very useful, allowing us to control smart home products with voice commands. Therefore, it is not surprising that Amazon’s new generation of Echo Plus is more inclined to control and connect smart home devices.
The EchoPlus, which costs $150 (about RMB 990), is almost identical to the first-generation Echo that was styling three years ago. The built-in ZigBee Control Center can be used for smart lighting, smart sockets and smart The control of the device of the door lock eliminates the need for a separate control hub to perform this function. Echo Plus makes it very easy to “manipulate” a variety of smart devices at home, which is quite difficult for other systems. At the same time, Amazon has added an improved smart home control feature to Alexa’s smartphone app that allows users to group devices based on rooms and then automatically run them according to the settings of the app.
But while Echo Plus makes it easy for us to start controlling smart home products, EchoPlus can’t do much better than other, more mature products. For example, Echo Plus can connect to ZigBee and Wi-Fi products, but it is not compatible with Z-Wave devices. Currently, the number of devices on this platform is at the same level as ZigBee.
So if you want to really enter the world of smart homes and want to control them with Alexa, then Echo Plus is a great entry product, but it’s not enough to reach the end.
As a hardware product, Echo Plus is almost the same as Amazon’s first-generation Echo visuals launched in 2014. There is no more compact body and no more colors, but with the combination of Alexa assistants, Echo Plus has become even more powerful.
EchoPlus can connect directly to third-party speakers via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm headphone jack, a feature not available in the first generation of Echo. At the same time, Amazon has added Dolby sound support to improve sound quality. Finally, in addition to white and black, Echo Plus adds silver. But to be honest, silver is the most inconspicuous of the three colors.
Overall, Echo Plus and the first generation of Echo are the same in most of the task processing. You can control it with voice commands. Echo Plus’s built-in microphone can receive commands from all directions, even when playing music and other audio, you can still receive our voice commands. The LED light on the top of the Echo Plus will glow blue, and if there is a new message, the LED will turn yellow. If the microphone is disabled, the light will turn red again. Although Echo Plus plays music very loudly, there is still a certain gap between the sound quality and products like Sonos One.
Therefore, Echo Plus is the most attractive feature in support of ZegBee wireless connectivity. From smart bulbs, smart switches, smart sockets, smart door locks, smart thermostats to smart motion detectors, there are many products on the market that support the platform. Of course, Echo Plus is currently focused on controlling light bulbs, outlets, and smart door locks, and Alexa’s applications can’t use these sensors to do extra things. In contrast, smart home control platforms like SmartThings and Wink can use a variety of sensors for home automation, which is currently not possible with Echo Plus. In addition, although the ZigBee platform has a large number of devices, Z-Wave is also quite a lot. But Echo Plus currently does not support the Z-Wave platform at all. SmartThings and Wink are compatible with both ZigBee and Z-Wave, so the latter two are more widely used in control applications.
In other words, Echo Plus does have some unique features that allow direct control of the Philips Hue Smart Light Bulb without the help of the Hue Bridge Control Center, as is the case with other Smart Home Control Centers. Amazon even offers EchoPlus users a free Hue light bulb. It also makes it easy for users to create smart home tools. Just call the voice command “Alexa, find device” and you can add the device to the network. You can also rename your device and add it to your room and group. This is the easiest tool to start the smart home platform so far.
At the same time, the functionality of these gadgets is limited. For example, although the Philips Hue smart light bulb supports full color mode, it can also adjust the brightness, but Echo Plus can only perform simple operations such as switching and adjusting brightness. To change their color, you need a special Hue Bridge.
EchoPlus’s control of smart homes can be enhanced with the latest Alexa apps, including an improved interface for smart home devices and new features called Routines. This feature allows us to implement a series of automated operations with a single, customized voice command. For example, I created an operation process. When I said “Alexa, the time for watching TV is coming”, Echo Plus will automatically turn off the living room lights and then turn on the TV. We can also add a variety of gadgets to our daily lives, but even so, there are some limitations in functionality. For example, features such as music playback and TV control cannot be added to the daily use process, which will make them more interesting. I originally wanted to turn on the TV automatically via Fire TV, but it is not currently possible.
Another new feature of Alexa is the ability to control a complete set of smart home devices. For example, if you have an Echo Dot in the bedroom, you want to turn off the lights in the living room and bedroom at the same time. Then you can directly say that the command “Alexa turns off the lights” is implemented at the same time. In the past, we needed a detailed language, such as turning off the lights in the bedroom and turning off the lights in the living room.
Alexa’s new features are not limited to Echo Plus, including any Echo device. So if you are an old Echo or Echo Dot user, you can also use it as a smart home control hub to control the functionality of group devices without spending money on new products.
Amazon has always been very proud of the fact that it is constantly improving and perfecting Alexa assistants, and it is very likely that the future will solve the compatibility and application problems through updates.
But now, Echo Plus is a simple recommendation. If you are just getting started with smart home systems, the new generation of EchoPlus is a great entry device. Whether it is voice control or future expansion potential, it is very suitable for ordinary users.
The function is the same as the first generation Echo, and it is also cheaper than $30;
Control smart home devices without the need for a Hub;
Creating a smart home network has a low threshold;
Limited support for smart home platforms;
There are cheaper options;
Unable to integrate other Amazon products;