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Amazon's Echo Connect could get you to make phone calls again

The $35 device works with your landline so Alexa can make phone calls for you, including to 911.

David Limp, Amazon's senior vice president of devices and services, discusses the Echo Connect at a press conference Wednesday.
Ry Crist/CNET

One of Amazon's newest Echo smart speakers will try to incorporate phone calls back into your routine. The Echo Connect is a device that uses Alexa, Amazon's voice-activated digital assistant, to turn your home phone into a smart, hands-free speakerphone that can call your contacts and 911, the online retailer announced at a press conference Thursday. The $35 Echo Connect will be available for preorder today, Sept. 27, and will ship in the fourth quarter of the year. 

There is a catch: You have to have an Echo speaker in addition to the Echo Connect. According to Amazon, the Echo Connect will work with your existing home phone service, whether it's landline or VoIP (the tech that lets you make voice calls through an internet connection instead of a phone line). You connect it to your Wi-Fi network and phone jack or VoIP adapter, and set up the device through the Alexa app. Once you're connected, you use your Echo speaker to ask Alexa to call specific people from your contacts list, and the people on the other end of the line will see your home phone number on their caller ID when you use the Echo Connect. And when people call your home phone, Alexa will announce their names from your contacts list.

Now playing: Watch this: Amazon unveils new Echo gadgets for your home

The Echo Connect is one of several new Echo products Amazon announced Wednesday. Those included a $100 updated version of the flagship Echo smart speaker, a $150 smart speaker/smart-home hub called the Echo Plus, and the $130 Echo Spot, which essentially adds a small display to the Echo Dot smart speaker

We don't yet have international pricing and availability, but we'll be updating this story as we learn more. $35 works out to about £25 or AU$45; $100 is about £75 or AU$130; $130 is about £95 or AU$170.

'Alexa, be more human': Inside Amazon's effort to make its voice assistant smarter, chattier and more like you.

Amazon: All things Amazon, from Echo to Prime deals.