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Smart Home

It's official, Amazon's Echo speakers hit Australia in Feb

You've probably heard about Amazon's smart speakers for years. Finally, you can preorder them right now.

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Amazon

No more false alerts, Australia. Alexa cometh.

Amazon's Echo range of smart speakers, which Australians have been hearing about for years, are officially launching Down Under in February. You can preorder the Echo, the Echo Dot or the Echo Plus as of Thursday. They'll ship early February, and also be available in-store at JB Hi-Fi, Telstra, Officeworks and Myer. 

If you've somehow not heard, the Echo family of products is powered by Alexa, Amazon's voice assistant. With these smart speakers, you can play music, get news and sport updates, set alarms, check your calendar and more with just your voice. Amazon said 10,000 Alexa skills, which are similar to what apps are to your phone, will be available at Australian launch.

Amazon Music Unlimited, the company's answer to Spotify and Apple Music, will launch before the Echos, going live in Australia on 1 February. It'll cost AU$11.99 per month, or AU$17.99 for a family plan allowing up to six members to share an account. There's also the AU$4.99 Echo Plan, which lets you stream Amazon Music Unlimited from a single Echo device.

Though Siri has been living inside iPhones since 2011, Amazon's Alexa has been a big figure in the quickly growing smart home market. It has some competition from Google, with the Google Assistant-powered Home launching in Australia last year. The country has been behind the smart home curve, though research firm Telsyte predicts that by 2021 the average household will have 14 smart home products connected. For reference, only 40 percent of households had even one connected device in 2016.

Here's a breakdown of the three speakers Amazon is offering:

  • Echo Dot (AU$79): The Dot doesn't have a woofer, which means it's not ideal for playing music. But if you've got a speaker to connect it to, it's a very affordable entry point, and an otherwise fully featured smart speaker. 
  • Echo (AU$149): The Echo is the original model. It has a 1.5-centimetre tweeter, 6.35-centimetre woofer, so it's essentially like the Echo Dot but with more bass, making it a more capable standalone speaker.
  • Echo Plus (AU$229): The Echo Plus is not, as you might think, an Echo with a more powerful speaker (though its tweeter is half a centimetre bigger). Instead, its main selling point is its ability to connect to the Zigbee frequency, which allows it to act as a smart home hub.
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You'll be able to snag one of these Echo devices for a lower cost if you get in quick, as Amazon will be selling them at special introductory prices of AU$49 for the Dot, AU$119 for the Echo and AU$199 for the Plus. Amazon Music Unlimited also has an introductory deal, with the company offering a free 90-day trial period, triple the standard 30-day trial period.

Amazon hopes to build momentum with the release, following its vaunted e-commerce platform, Amazon.com(.au), launching in Australia in December

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