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.
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.