Amazon Echo Plus Review
Amazon Echo Plus
- Sounds better than the first Echo
- Improved audio
- Easy to set up
- Routines and in-app smart device control
- Slightly cheaper than before
- Smart hub feature is pretty basic
- Sound quality could still be better
- Can't use Zigbee switches and sensors
- $100 Echo is a better deal
Amazon Echo Plus Reviews. The simple way to start your smart home.
Amazon Echo Plus is a simple way to start your smart home. It has a built-in ZigBee smart home hub, which allows for simple and direct setup of compatible ZigBee lights, locks, plugs, and in-wall switches from brands like Philips Hue, GE, and Yale. No additional hub required.
Echo Plus connects to Alexa—a cloud-based voice service—to play music, make calls, set timers and alarms, ask questions, check traffic and weather, and more—instantly.
Just ask for a song, artist, or genre from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, and more. With multi-room music, you can play music on your Echo devices in different rooms. Echo Plus can also play audiobooks, radio stations, news briefs, and more.
Call or message anyone hands-free with your Echo device. Also, instantly connect to other Echo devices in your home using just your voice.
Improved speakers with Dolby processing deliver crisp vocals and extended bass to fill the room with immersive, 360° audio
With seven microphones, beamforming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo hears you from any direction—even while music is playing
Alexa is always getting smarter and adding new features and skills. Just ask Alexa to control your TV, request an Uber, order a pizza, and more.
The $150 Amazon Echo Plus is in a curious spot when compared with the other smart speakers out there. Amazon’s $100 model makes more sense for anyone just dipping their toes into the Alexa ecosystem. And if you’re looking for the best sound quality, you’re better off with the $199 Sonos One.
Of course, your choice of smart speaker also depends on the other ecosystems in your home. If you’re a diehard Android user, it makes more sense to look into the $130 Google Home, which sounds better than the Echo and sports Google Assistant. Apple fanatics, meanwhile, might want to hold out for the $349 HomePod. It’s expensive, but, based on our brief hands-on, it sounds great.
In many ways, the Amazon Echo Plus feels like the true successor to the device that kicked off the whole smart speaker trend. But aside from a slight bump in sound quality and semi-useful smart hub integration, there’s not much separating the two. It’s pretty clear that Amazon’s main focus is on making its Alexa ecosystem cheaper, rather than taking any major risks. But then, that’s what partners like Sonos are for.
There are some teething issues to fix then. If you’ve yet to take the dive into either the Amazon Echo ecosystem, or the world of smart home connected gadgetry, then it’s easy to recommend the Amazon Echo Plus. It’s a convenient one-stop solution for both audio, smart assistant functions and Internet of Things controls, with Alexa still going strong as the most feature-rich voice assistant.
But the strength of the Echo range, especially at the lower price points, still makes these top-of-the-line models a harder sell. The Echo Dot is just that good, with the audio quality here an improvement, but not strong enough to justify a purchase on those terms alone. Likewise, the built-in smart hub is a great addition, but isn’t yet feature-complete, meaning committed smart home users may not want to make the jump just yet.
In short, if you’re looking to enter the world of the connected home, the Echo Plus is a great place to start. Just be aware that more economical options may, for the time being at least, suit your needs just as well.
Amazon is proud of the fact that it’s constantly iterating on and improving Alexa, and it’s likely that the Echo Plus’ smart home shortcomings with device compatibility and app limitations will be addressed with future updates. But right now, it’s a little too simple to recommend, and if you’re interested in starting out with a smart home system, you’re better off buying the less expensive second-generation Echo and a dedicated smart home hub, which will give you all of the same voice control with lots of room to expand in the future.
The underlying Alexa ecosystem keeps improving, and the majority of the new smart home features (app control and routines) are available on all existing devices. The Plus, then, stands out because of its integrated Zigbee hub. Yet, at the moment, this needs some work to improve features with connected devices. Philips Hue bulbs, for example, have more options when connected to a Hue Bridge.
I expect the Amazon Echo Plus to improve over time, but for now, it’s not quite the device to unify everything in your home. Currently, smart home users will be better served with an Echo 2 or Echo Dot, sticking with manufacturer-provided bridges and Skills.
The Amazon Echo Plus has plenty of potential. Alexa has already proven to be a capable quarterback for the connected living space — packing her into a dedicated smart home hub makes plenty of sense.
Still, that hub has to be good. And while it’s just as good a smart speaker as the original Echo, if not better, the Echo Plus is actually a pretty mediocre hub. It isn’t as fully featured as the competition. It only works with Zigbee. It doesn’t do anything with sensors and sirens. The app is poorly organized.
I almost wonder if Amazon would have been better off foregoing the full-sized approach and, instead, making the Echo Plus more like the Echo Dot. After all, the Zigbee radio is the only real reason to buy the Plus over another Echo device — by packing it into a full-sized speaker at $150 or £140, Amazon is forcing Zigbee enthusiasts to pay for more than they may actually need.
All of that is enough for me to tell you to wait on the Echo Plus. There’s plenty of potential, yes, but it just isn’t there yet.
Amazon is absolutely bringing hardware value here. A Philips Hue Bridgecosts $60. A Samsung hub is $80. Wink charges $100. Amazon is essentially charging a $50 premium for its hub functionality over the standard Echo. But the other systems may be protecting themselves by keeping some of their best features in their own software.
Amazon iterates its software and cloud services quickly, and it’s likely that in six months, the Alexa app will be far more flexible and capable when it comes to smart home control. That said, we have to review how the Echo Plus is working right now, and especially if you have multicolored lights, an array of sensors, or anything Z-Wave, it isn’t up to snuff.
If the Amazon Echo Plus was the only Echo, we’d have no problem recommending it. I mean, come on. It costs less than the previous Echo, and has a built-in smart home hub and better Wi-Fi. Slam dunk, right?
Not quite, because there are so many Echo devices. Right now, we’re recommending the $99 Echo (and a separate smart home hub, if you need one) over the Echo Plus for most people. That could change, and we’ll look at the Echo Plus again in a few months to see if its smart home abilities have advanced to the point where you don’t need a separate hub or app for full functionality. That’s not to say, though, that the Echo Plus isn’t a good choice if you’re simply curious about smart home automation. If you decide not to take the full dive, you still have a very capable smart speaker that comes at a reasonable price.
The Amazon Echo Plus is an all-in-one device that bridges your smart home products to the home assistant Alexa. We wish the speaker boasted better sound quality, but the Echo Plus is designed for a more streamlined smart home system and not to blow your buddies’ socks off with bass.
Is there a better alternative? Because this is the first device that features both a smart-home hub and home assistant, there’s not really anything else like it on the market right now. If you don’t need the smart home hub capabilities, the new Amazon Echo or the Google Home with Assistant are both great options. For sound quality snobs, the Sonos One fits the bill perfectly.
How long will it last? With several Echo devices currently available and Amazon Alexa leading the smart home assistant market, the hardware will continue to be supported by software updates. As this device is the first of its kind, it’s likely Amazon could release an updated version in a couple years.
Should you buy it? Do buy it if you’re in the market for both an Alexa-enabled home assistant speaker and a smart home hub at the same time. If you just need a home assistant device, the cheaper all-new Echo, Echo Dot, or Google Home are better choices. If you’re looking for quality sound from your speaker, go for the pricier but high-quality Sonos One.