Amazon’s Echo smart speakers have proven a huge hit and the range has expanded since those early days to include a multitude of different models including the Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Plus, Echo Flex and Echo Studio, as well as the 'standard' Echo itself.
That standard device just got a big update and redesign, and here's what you need to know.
When will the new Amazon Echo be released?
The new smart speaker was released on 22 October, but unless you pre-ordered one you won't be able to get one for at least a few weeks.
On release day, Amazon's UK site was reporting that the black version would be in stock on 16 November, with the Glacier White and new Twilight Blue colours being unavailable until 27 November. Delivery of both is 1-2 days later.
How much does the Amazon Echo 4 cost?
The last two iterations of the Echo have had the same price, which is £89.99/$99.99, and Amazon has kept this price even though it's effectively an Echo Plus now.
What new features did Amazon add to the Echo 4?
As well as the design, which is replicated across the whole Echo speaker range, there are new speakers.
There’s nothing 'wrong' with the speakers in the existing Echo 3, in fact they’re the same as the ones in the Echo Plus (2nd Gen), but the Echo 4 gets a 3 inch woofer, and dual-firing tweeters, plus support for Dolby Digital stereo.
Like the Echo Studio, the Echo can sense the acoustics of your room and adjust the sound to optimise it.
More colour options
The new Echo comes in three colours: Charcoal (black), Glacier White and Twilight Blue.
There's also a built-in Zigbee hub, as you got in previous models of the Echo Plus, for connecting compatible devices to your router which need this bridge.
Improving Alexa’s voice
- Alexa is an impressive voice assistant and capable of all kinds of things, such as streaming music, controlling your smart home devices, and even telling the occasional joke. She does still lack a bit of character, though (unless you know how to get her funny responses).
For the most part, her voice is a little robotic, as are her responses to questions and other general interactions. In comparison to the likes of Google’s voice assistant, Alexa can feel somewhat cold and impersonal.
One of the big features that comes with the fourth-generation Echo is the new AZ1 neural processor that allows it to process your commands faster and respond faster.
Amazon is also rolling out updates to Alexa's voice which make her sound a lot more natural, and can also better understand if what you're saying is directed at her or not, so she doesn't butt in to your conversation like she can do currently. These updates will arrive later this year.
To see how Amazon’s devices compare to the competition, read Best smart speakers.