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Amazon's latest Echoes show the space of the smart home at its own pace

The Echo range from Amazon was refreshed earlier this year with a brand new version of its Echo Core, an Echo Plus with integrated smart hub and Echo Dot unchanged, but still a convincing device at its price.

The new line of appliances has also made its way to other markets this year, including an expansion in Canada this month, which is why I now have a host of Echo material in my apartment. The main accomplishment of this update, I think, is that it looks less like a new generation of gadget, and more at an advanced age for a modern device – a whole new category of gadgets. essential furnishing items.

Amazon clearly wants to encourage this impression – the new Amazon Echo comes in a host of fabric-covered finishes, and it's hard to imagine the soft furnishings link is unintentional. Part of this is to integrate into the decor so that these smart speakers can stand free and clear and invisible on shelves, tables and surfaces without hitting any sensitivity. But it is also about turning a gadget into something much more accessible, and much more mainstream.

In my case, Amazon has accomplished its task. The Echo (and Echo Plus, and Echo Dot), have all become key household appliances like a light switch, a sofa or a microwave. The latest generation reinforces this presence with the necessary improvements in key areas, including sound reproduction (the new Echo is better than its predecessor, and the Echo Plus seems a little better even though it apparently has similar equipment).

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I'm now using the echoes around the house to control my lights hue (I do not remember the last time I turned on a switch), turn on and control the home theater system, check and change the temperature using my Nest Thermostat, check news and weather, and set kitchen timers. It's second nature at this point, and doing the same things, the old manual way feels desperately backwards – even though the actual convenience difference is probably insignificant.

Aspects of the new Echo range are questionable, just like the Echo Plus-built smart home concentrator that only supports one of the two major standards for connected home appliances without thread. But they do not detract from the experience – and the ultimate impression that Echo is a homemaker who is destined to become more and more a default option that people live with as dependable as their coffee table , or at least their dishwasher.