Alexa powered Amazon Echo devices can now understand your accent
Amazon has taken its own sweet time to launch the Echo range of smart speakers in India, and for good reason. Alexa, the AI assistant which powers the Amazon Echo, can now understand an Indian accent, speak in it, and understands the nuances of Indian English and its unique vocabulary. We explore the devices, and associated goodies Amazon is offering in India.
Apart from its new Indian hue, Amazon Alexa can perform thousands of functions called 'skills'. These include responding to questions, looking up recipes, setting reminders & timers, looking up music and video content, controlling smart lights etc. Perhaps, most impressive is the Echo's Far Field Voice Control which ensures that Alexa can hear you from across the room despite the presence of ambient noise.
There are three Echo variants which have been launched in India. The smallest is the Echo Dot, which is a basic Alexa-powered bedside speaker with modest sound output. The Echo Dot supports a Bluetooth input, an aux output for connecting to larger speakers, and is powered by micro-USB. However, since it needs 9 watts of power, not all mobile chargers can power it.
Succeeding the Echo Dot is the mainstream Amazon Echo. The new Echo has been resized to make it more sleek than the first generation speaker. Functionally, it's similar to the Echo Dot, except that it comes with a woofer, has louder sound, and interchangeable shells. Users can use differently colored shells for aesthetic purposes, and switching shells takes seconds.
The flagship, of course, is the Amazon Echo Plus. Identical to the first generation Echo in terms of size, the Echo Plus comes with an in-built smart home hub which allows users to control smart lights and other smart appliances. No external bridge or hub is required for the same. The Plus, however, doesn't have interchangeable shells, but comes with a swanky volume-control knob.
The MRP of the Echo Dot, Echo, and the Echo Plus stand at Rs. 4,499, Rs. 9,999, and Rs. 14,999 respectively. However, Amazon is offering an introductory flat discount of 30% on each of these devices. In addition, the discounted price includes a year's worth of Amazon Prime subscription which will give users shopping benefits, and access to Prime Video and Prime Music.