Amazon's new Echo brings multi-room audio and a stylish new design

Amazon has unveiled the next-generation version of its Echo device, a smaller cylindrical tower with a classier design and $99 price tag. Unlike the original Echo, this second-generation update features a cloth design not unlike what we find on Google Daydream devices. The new model boasts better sound quality versus the original smart speaker, and it is joined by a bundle discount on additional Echo devices.

Amazon announced the new Echo — and other Echo products — at an event today. The new model offers multi-room audio, meaning users can stream audio to multiple devices in multiple rooms at the same time. This gives consumers a new and mostly cheaper way to get whole-home audio in comparison to some competing products from companies like Sonos.

The company is also making it easier for consumers to get more than one Echo in their home by offering a new bundle of sorts, which includes three devices that work out to $50 each. Working with the separate Connect device, which Amazon has also just announced, users can call 911 directly with the Echo, which also now supports making calls to number in the US, Canada and Mexico.

Though it doesn't seem like so much time has passed, the original Echo smart speaker was announced back in 2014; this is a welcomed update over that model, one that is necessary to keep pace with growing competition from Apple and others. Other features include support for Dolby Audio, far-field microphones, a 4in woofer, and an array of 7 tweeters.