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Amazon unveils Echo Buds with noise cancellation and Alexa support

Amazon's new AirPod-killers are bristling with microphones and ready to make shopping easier

Amazon’s autumn hardware event has concluded and we’re still reeling from the vast number of products launched. Echo smart speakers aside, the retail giant also produced a few surprises, including a pair of true-wireless earbuds called the Amazon Echo Buds.

These earbuds are Amazon’s first attempt at wearable audio technology and make use of two balanced armature drivers in each bud. Amazon quotes a battery life of five hours, a figure that can rise to 20 hours when supported by the charging case.

Runners will be pleased to hear that the Echo Buds are IPX4-rated for splash- and sweat-resistance and come with three sets of extra tips for those with awkward ears. So far, so ordinary.

It does get more interesting, however. The Echo Buds also use Bose Active Noise Cancellation technology with two outer microphones filtering outside noise to an adjustable degree; users can choose between standard ANC mode and a “passthrough” mode that allows in a little bit of ambient sound. 

In addition, these Amazon earbuds are Alexa-enabled, meaning you can talk to your digital assistant no matter where you might be. For example, Amazon has partnered with US-based Whole Foods to provide contextual information in response to requests made when visiting one of the firm’s brick-and-mortar stores. No more having to find an actual human to help track down hidden shopping items. 

Rather intriguingly, the Echo Buds also support both Siri and Google Assistant, although it seems likely that this support will be more limited. Note, though, that the Buds don’t perform the digital assistant processing themselves – you’ll need your smartphone connected at all times to do the heavy lifting. 

The Echo Buds cost £120, making them a slightly cheaper alternative to Apple’s £160 AirPods. Like the other products on display in Seattle, the Echo Buds will ship in the UK later this year with pre-ordering beginning soon.

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