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Amazon Debuts a New, Cheaper Version of Voice-Enabled Echo Dot

September 14, 2016, 1:07 PM UTC

Ahead of the holiday shopping season, Amazon debuted a new version of its smaller, Wi-Fi-connected, voice-activated personal assistant, Echo Dot, on Wednesday.

Similar to the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot is a Wi-Fi-connected personal assistant. Echo Dot is as big as a hockey puck versus a 9.25-inch-tall cylinder for the Echo—and it comes with only a smaller speaker. Users who want high-quality sound must connect the device wirelessly to third-party speakers through Bluetooth or with a cord. The device, which originally launched in March of this year, also costs considerably less than the Echo, and with Wednesday’s update, Amazon has dropped the price even more. The Dot was priced at $89.99 but is now $49.99

Similar to Echo, Echo Dot can answer questions, read the news, give sports scores, turn on and off lights, order things from Amazon and set an alarm clock. Users also can use the device to order rides from Uber and pizza from Domino’s.

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“With the same high-quality array of seven microphones found in Echo, the all-new Echo Dot can hear you from across the room, even when it’s noisy or music is playing,” Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, said in a statement. “And, at under $50, it is easier than ever to add Echo and Alexa to any or every room in your home.”

Another key difference between the first version and the second version of the Dot is that it now comes in white, as well as black. That’s particularly interesting because Google’s (GOOG) yet-to-be released voice-connected rival device, Google Home, also comes in white.

Amazon (AMZN) also said Wednesday that it has added a new technology, what it calls “ESP technology,” that will be able to understand how clear a customer’s voice is and determines which Echo in a home is best to respond to particular request. This is designed for people who have multiple Echos in their home, and Amazon said ESP will continuously improve as you use Echo.

It’s worth noting that Amazon issued a $40 price drop only months after releasing the first version of Echo Dot. It’s still not clear how much Google Home will cost but perhaps the e-commerce company is looking to compete at several different price levels.

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