£45 for a still brilliant smart speaker is incredible value
As Amazon seems intent on refreshing its Echo range every year with better smarts and more attractive casing, there are real opportunities for bargains when the company decides to clear out older models. Because Alexa is software-based, you’re not missing out on features – just a bit of sound quality.
Or maybe not even that in the case of this first-generation Echo Plus deal. Amazon is selling the super-smart speaker for just £45 – cheaper than the RRP of the weaker, but more compact Echo Dot.
So just what puts the “Plus” in Echo Plus? Sound quality and smart-home integration.
I’ll tackle the sound quality first. The original Echo Plus has a 2.5in downward-firing woofer and a 0.8in tweeter, which is a decent step up from the original Echo’s specs and it shows with the audio. As mobile technology editor Nathan Spendelow wrote in our review: “With the addition of Dolby processing and improved speaker drivers, the Echo Plus’ audio quality is a good deal more impressive than the aged Echo’s.”
Of course, other Echos have caught up in that time – more notably the second-generation of Echo Plus and the third-generation of vanilla Echo. But these cost significantly more, and the real comparison here is the Dot, which is a decent speaker, but no match for the Echo Plus. Even the older model we’re discussing here.
Then there’s the smart-home stuff. The Echo Plus comes with ZigBee support – which means it can talk to smart-home devices like Philips Hue lightbulbs without needing a separate hub. Handy if you have more hubs than you know what to do with.
You may or may not be interested in that, but if you’re even slightly tempted in trying a smart speaker, then this is a great place to start. We originally gave it a four-star rating at £140 – but it’s easily five with its new-found price.