Once you pop, can you stop?

Amazon has cut the Echo Dot in half. No, not in another sale, but the design of the company’s newest smart speaker — the $39.99 Echo Pop — looks a lot like someone took a meat cleaver to the Echo Dot. The result is kinda cute—especially in purple.

The smiley-looking Pop is now the entry-level Alexa-powered smart speaker in Amazon’s Echo lineup. It has all the hallmarks of an Echo speaker: a voice-controlled device that can perform various tasks, including streaming music, controlling smart home devices, running timers, and adding eggs to your shopping lists.

Along with the new Pop, the $89.99 Echo Show 5 smart display is getting a long-awaited update. The third-generation model of Amazon’s smallest and most popular smart screen speaker now has better sound and improved processing power.

The Echo Pop and Echo Show 5 are available for pre-order today on Amazon.com, with orders shipping May 31.

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Amazon is beefing up its entry-level offerings in a continuous push to get Alexa, the smart voice assistant, in every room of your home. “When you start thinking about the smart home of the future — which is here today — you want an Echo endpoint in every room,” said Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of Devices and Services. the edge in an interview. While Amazon regularly discounts its devices, the current entry-level option is the $39.99 3G. The Pop is preparing to replace this model, which is now five years old, although the third generation Dot is still available.

Despite reports of massive losses and mass layoffs in its division, Alexa usage has been growing, and the company says it has a strong future. “We’ve sold over half a billion Alexa-enabled devices, so we’re pretty confident it’s here to stay,” says Limp. He says customer engagement with Alexa increased 35 percent year-over-year. Additionally, 90 percent of Alexa actions triggered in the past two months had no voice interaction at all. “A lot of what we’re trying to do is figure out how to get people to talk to Alexa less but Alexa still be proactive,” he says.

Our North Star Star Trek The computer…now it looks like we have the tools to get there. “

Part of that effort, Lemp says, will be integrating generative AI and big language models through Alexa’s tutor model into the assistant, which is poised to offer “a very different experience.” This shift will be primarily about making Alexa smarter and more conversational but also about helping harness the smart home more effectively, he says. Our North Star Star Trek computer. With the advent of generative AI and large language models, this now seems like a solvable problem. Whereas eight or nine years ago it seemed like a vision of blue skies, now it looks like we have the tools to get there.”

Alexa has been making use of AI for a while now, specifically in products like the sensations that suggest automations for you based on actions you do most frequently — like turning off all the lights and closing the door at around the same time each night. LLMs will make this kind of “intelligence” more powerful, Lemp says.

But it won’t hit an echo near you any time soon. Amazon is still working on integrating technology in a way that doesn’t create clutter. “There are certain things you don’t want to happen,” says Lemp, noting that you don’t have to work hard to get an LLM to “hallucinate.” “If you order paper towels, we need to set the right price, and we need to ship them to the right address.”

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With a hemispherical design, the Echo Pop borrows heavily from the old Echo Spot’s style, but there’s no screen or camera here. The familiar Alexa LED light appears as a small bar on top of the speaker. As the new Echo for Beginners, Pop is not aimed at audiophiles. The forward-facing 1.95-inch directional speaker is larger than the $50 fifth-generation Echo Dot’s 1.73-inch driver, but this device’s larger size produces deeper bass, says Lemp. However, the Pop sound is “significantly better in bass, loudness, and clarity than the original Hockey Disc,” he notes.

The Pop lacks some of the Dot’s hardware features—there’s no temperature sensor or clock display

The Pop also lacks some of the hardware features of the current Point—there’s no temperature sensor or clock display option—but it does get the same AZ2 processor. This means it can process more commands locally, resulting in faster response times than non-AZ2 Echos—something that held up in my testing of the latest Echo Dot. The Pop is also a Matter controller so you can use it as a hub for the new Matter smart home standard, Sidewalk Bridge, and Eero mesh Wi-Fi extender.

The Echo speaker wouldn’t be so new if there weren’t some new colors, and the Pop introduces two new colors: purple and green. These speakers give a more vibrant look that might suit a bedroom or kid’s room better than the muted black and white colors (which are also options).

Amazon is also giving the entry-level Echo Show 5 smart display a proper upgrade — after a very minor refresh in 2021. The $89.99 third-generation Echo Show 5 has a redesigned speaker system that Amazon says delivers clearer bass. The re-engineered microphone array should also make the wedge-shaped device more responsive to commands — which is a good thing, since in my experience the current View 5 is one of the worst at hearing requests of all of Amazon’s smart displays.

The Echo Show 5 is only the second smart display to get the AZ2 processor after the top-of-the-line Echo Show 15.

The smart display should be sleeker all around, thanks to the addition of Amazon’s AZ2 processor. Amazon says it’s 20 percent faster than the previous generation. The Show 5 is only the second Echo smart display to get the upgrade after the Echo Show 15. The display is useful for additional context, watching videos, viewing compatible security cameras, and Alexa video calling with a built-in camera.

As with the previous model, the camera can be a security device, allowing you to view the camera’s feed through the Alexa app and use it as a motion sensor to run Alexa Routines. The Show 5 is a popular device as a bedside alarm clock, and while the camera poses privacy concerns, there’s a physical shutter to prevent it.

There’s also a new $26.99 adjustable Show 5 stand that adds a USB-C charging port for charging a phone or other device. This would make it more useful as a bedside table device — although having a USB-C charging port in the same width would have been better.

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The new Show 5 comes in black, white, and blue, and there’s also a new Echo Show 5 Kids with a space theme. This one is $99.99 and comes with a two-year warranty and one year of Amazon Kids Plus, an ad-free kid-friendly service with audiobooks, videos, and games.

Amazon also announced a new, cheaper version of the Echo Buds for $49.99, and that Echo Auto, Alexa’s in-car system, is launching in more countries: Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Japan. The Echo Auto will begin shipping immediately, and the Echo Buds on June 7.

#pop #stop

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