Ahead of Apple’s HomePod, Amazon announces smaller, cloth-covered $99 Echo

“Amazon introduced a second-generation version of the Echo today with a dedicated bass tweeter [woofer? – MND Ed.] and a modified, shorter design. The new device looks to be about half the size of the original Echo, is cloth-covered, goes on sale today for $99,” Casey Newton reports for The Verge. “The company is also selling a three pack for the first time, offering multi-room audio for the price of $50 per device.”

“Multi-room audio has been a major request of Echo users nearly since its inception. The introduction of audio that can stream to multiple devices simultaneously means that Echo now poses a direct competitive threat to Sonos,” Newton reports. “And it will offer a low-cost alternative to Apple’s forthcoming HomePod.”

Apple's HomePod
Apple’s HomePod

“In addition to multi-room audio, Echo can now make free calls to the United States, Canada, and Mexico for the first time,” Newton reports. “o help push the idea of Alexa as a phone replacement, Amazon also introduced a separate $35 device called Connect. The Connect will go on sale today as well.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Thes are positioned for a much different market than Apple’s high-end HomePod: The tin ear market.

HomePod will sell itself first with its stellar sound quality and, later, with its robust capabilities as a smart personal assistant.

As Reddit user Arve stated after HomePod’s unveiling:

1. They’re using some form of dynamic modeling, and likely also current sensing that allows them to have a p-p excursion of 20 mm in a 4″ driver. This is completely unheard of in the home market. You can read an introduction to the topic here. The practical upshot is that that 4″ driver can go louder than larger drivers, and with significantly less distortion. It’s also stuff you typically find in speakers with five-figure price tags (The Beolab 90 does this, and I also suspect that the Kii Three does). It’s a quantum leap over what a typical passive speaker does, and you don’t really even find it in higher-end powered speakers

2. The speaker uses six integrated beamforming microphones to probe the room dimensions, and alter its output so it sounds its best wherever it is placed in the room. It’ll know how large the room is, and where in the room it is placed.

3. The room correction applied after probing its own position isn’t simplistic DSP of frequency response, as the speaker has seven drivers that are used to create a beamforming speaker array,. so they can direct specific sound in specific directions. The only other speakers that do this is the Beolab 90, and Lexicon SL-1. The Beolab 90 is $85,000/pair, and no price tag is set for the Lexicon, but the expectation in the industry is “astronomical”.

So yes, compared to the typical sub-$2000 speaker, the technology they apply may just as well be considered “magic”.

Why Apple’s HomePod will crush the Amazon Echo and Google Home – August 28, 2017
Apple’s HomePod is uniquely positioned to win the smart speaker market – August 25, 2017
Consumers appear eager to buy Apple’s upcoming HomePod smart speaker – July 14, 2017
After seeing Apple’s HomePod, Amazon is working on an Apple HomePod echo – July 14, 2017
Apple Watch and AirPods in high demand; HomePod buying intent outpaces Amazon Echo – July 10, 2017
Apple’s HomePod could have an even more successful start than Apple Watch – July 7, 2017
Amazon Echo has a problem: Apple’s HomePod has major advantage over rivals – June 18, 2017
Apple’s HomePod first impressions: Lots of mystery, impressive sound quality – June 8, 2017
With HomePod, Apple just wants to shake things up (for now) – June 7, 2017
Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo – June 7, 2017
CNET: Apple’s HomePod offers superior sound quality vs. Amazon Echo and Sonos Play:3 – June 6, 2017
Apple’s new HomePod sounds incredible! – June 6, 2017
Apple HomePod takes on Amazon Echo – June 6, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017


  1. Although I’m all in on Apple, I have to admit I have already purchased and have been using an Echo and 4 Dots for several years now. Since I’m not an audiophile, I could definitely get by with the sound quality of the echo. And considering that you can get more than six of the new echo units for the price of one HomePod, it’s a pretty difficult decision for an non-audiophile Apple guy. Now that the Echo and Dots can be configured for multi room streaming, if the echo could be configured as an AirPlay device, it be a no-brainer for me…
    Sadly, Apple really dropped the ball on this… 🙁

  2. I’m a huge Apple person, but Alexa puts Siri to shame in regard to ‘it just works’ functionality. I find Siri an exercise in frustration, whereas Alexa is a very forgiving and smart helper. For home smart devices I long ago built out an Amazon Alexa-based system, it’s just a much better eco-system than what Apple has accomplished thus far. Until Apple gets Siri to work more effectively, I don’t see this changing much.

    1. Agreed. Apple’s HomePod very likely has superior audio, and may be worth it for the (small) segment to whom that’s a very important factor.

      For the largest part of the market, though, Echo is “good enough” or they already own a good-enough stereo system they can connect it to, and Alexa is head and shoulders above Siri in the “personal assistant” category. No contest.

      That with the HUGE price difference should tilt things solidly to Amazon in this matchup.

      MDN & others will say these are totally separate products with different purposes. That’s not untrue, but only insomuch as HomePod is just an expensive (presumably very good) speaker with some Siri features tacked on, while Echo is a fair speaker with a LOT more capabilities.

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