Amazon's redesigned Echo features improved sound, Alexa smarts

Timothy J. Seppala
If you thought Amazon would sit back and let Apple reap the rewards of a smart speaker with decent sound, you're wrong.

If you thought Amazon would sit back and let Apple reap the rewards of a smart speaker with decent sound, you're wrong. The shopping juggernaut just unveiled the new Echo. In addition to an all-cloth covering (with options for wood veneer) sports "all new sound architecture" including a dedicated woofer and tweeter in addition to Dolby-certified audio. More than that, it's rocking second-gen far field tech for better voice recognition. Speaking of voice, it'll make free calls to Canada and Mexico using Echo Connect. That'll launch in the US later this year.

And soon enough, you'll be able to use it for messaging to Germany and the UK. As for price, the new Echo will run you $99 stateside, £89 and €99 and is available today. Multipacks for multi-room audio are discounted by $50 per unit. If you wait a bit though, maybe Amazon will screw up and (temporarily) give them away for free.