Back in September Amazon announced a completely revamped Echo lineup with new speakers and whole host of fresh Alexa-enabled technology. This included new entries like its first in-house smart microwave and wall plug. Fast forward three months later and nearly the entire lineup has been released and subsequently discounted for the holiday season. That is, except for Amazon’s Echo Link. Today the $200 accessory hits the market as a means for adding Alexa to high-end stereo systems, taking a page out of the Sonos playbook.
Those looking for standalone amplification will have to wait a bit longer, however, as the Echo Link Amp is not slated to be released until 2019. So what does Amazon’s $200 add-on get you? Head below for more.
Amazon Echo Link now available
As Amazon has expanded its Echo lineup over the years, it’s grown from a single speaker to a multi-purpose medium that’s used by nearly every smart home platform out there. While Alexa capabilities are a natural fit for lighting and the like, its place in the highly-competitive audio sector has always been somewhat unclear.
The original Alexa speakers were more voice assistant than audio powerhouse. In fact, the first Echo Dot was down right terrible in this regard. As Amazon’s Echo lineup has matured so has its audio ambitions. Perhaps no product more than Echo Link has shown how serious Amazon is about its next steps in this area.
Echo Link arrives today with a $200 price tag as a way to add Alexa voice capabilities to your existing stereo setup. In fact, Amazon makes an extra effort to label this accessory as a way to add high-fidelity streaming music to any system. A $15 dongle, this is not. Echo Link offers optical connectivity along with coax, RCA, and more. It will even play nice with most subwoofer setups.
However, Echo Link must be added to an existing system and can’t be a standalone solution. Those wanting that type of simplified setup will have to hold out for the Echo Link Amp that’s coming down the line next year at an additional $100 premium.
Amazon takes a page out of the Sonos playbook
As you may recall, Sonos has a nearly identical solution just like Echo Link. It even comes in both amplified and non-amplified versions. However, that solution from Sonos hit the market earlier this year at a significant markup. It’s wise of Amazon to go this same route, giving users the option of adding Alexa to existing systems. Here’s the thing, though — most people don’t equate Amazon and Alexa with HiFi audio, unlike Sonos. This is likely do to those aforementioned low-quality releases from years back. Amazon certainly has some work to do in this area, but the release of Echo Link is certainly a step in the right direction.