Sure, the new $99 Echo is a more premium (if
lower cost) version of Amazon’s wildly
popular home assistant. But Amazon had another big surprise up
its sleeve. The Echo Plus features all of the new higher-end
sound features built into the new Echo, along with a built-in
smart home hub that aims to make the product an even
more essential part of the connected home.

The key difference here is that the device works with a number
of different smart home devices right out of the box. There are
already 100 different partners on-board, including GE, Kwikset,
and Philips — in fact, the new device can ship with a Philips Hue lightbulb
right out of the box.

Interestingly, the Echo Plus looks a lot more
like the original Echo than the new one – borrowing the same
tall and slender plasticky build, rather than the swappable
cloth covers.
 It’s a strange
decision on Amazon’s part, given what looks to be a move toward
more premium in-home products with the new Echo. 

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The new Echo Plus is, however, in line with the company’s
continued strategy of undercutting the competition. At $149,
it’s $30 cheaper than the original Echo. The new device is
up for pre-order starting today, and is
available in Black, Silver and White.