Amazon has quietly announced a new Echo speaker, and it's unusual for three reasons: it's powered by a rechargeable battery (rather than through the mains); it's only available in India (for now, anyway); and it's rather strangely called the Amazon Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition.
It's also more expensive than the $49.99 / £49.99 / AU$79 Echo Dot, although the convenience of portability could justify the new Input's relatively high price.
If you thought Amazon was done releasing new devices into its Echo smart speaker line-up, think again. The Echo can last 11 hours of standby on battery (but to extend battery life, Amazon recommends that you plug it in when youre not using it).
"Portability has been one of the most requested features in India", said Miriam Daniel, VP of Alexa Devices.
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The highlight of the speaker is the built-in 4,800mAh battery which the company claims to offer a up to 10-hours of uninterrupted usage.
For those in the West, there are some third-party accessories created to bring portability to the Amazon Echo. The Echo Input Portable natively supports Amazon Prime Music and Apple Music plus JioSaavn, Gaana and other local services you just need to connect it to your home Wi-Fi and ask it to play your favorite artist.
While users will find everything improved in the new Echo Input, however, in terms of performance, the new smart speaker, which weighs - 581grams - comparatively lower than its earlier versions, won't be able to deliver as much sound like the earlier devices due to lower power supply.
That's significantly more expensive than the $34.99 / £34.99 Echo Input, the speaker-less Alexa device that was launched in 2018 to allow users to bring the smarts of Alexa to their old-school Hi-Fi systems.
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Unlike the ill-fated Echo Tap from 2016, the Input Portable can be controlled with the usual Alexa hot word (the Tap originally required the press of a button). You know that the device is fully charged when all the 4 LEDs turn off.
You can also use that hefty battery pack to charge your smartphone from the speaker base too, which makes it handy if you want to take Alexa with you outdoors for a BBQ.
In the meantime, Indian citizens can pre-order the Echo Input Portable right now ahead of its December 18 launch. After the introductory price ends, it will cost 5,999 rupees (£64, or $84).
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