Amazon has unveiled an all-new Amazon Echo smart speaker exclusive to the Indian market. Dubbed the Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition, the new gadget looks like a slightly chunkier Amazon Echo Dot. It boasts 360-degree sound and a rechargeable battery pack.
That means users will be able to pick-up and take the smart home gadget with them wherever they go. So, if you want Alexa with you in the living room to field queries about the actors you’re watching on screen, or change the smart lighting in the room to match the mood – then you can carry the chatty box with you. Likewise, the new Echo can also be taken into the bedroom, dining room, kitchen… wherever you have a strong Wi-Fi signal.
“Portability has been one of the most requested features in India,” Alexa Devices Vice President Miriam Daniel told TechCrunch. “You want to be able to carry Alexa with you from room to room within your homes. So we have designed something just for you.”
Despite the usefulness of being able to carry Alexa around with you as you move from room to room, Amazon has no plans to bring the rechargeable Echo to the UK, US or mainland Europe. For the time being, the Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition will be exclusive to India.
Interestingly, Amazon has tried a battery-powered Echo in the United States before. Dubbed the Amazon Tap, the rechargeable smart speaker wasn’t well received by customers and never rolled-out to the UK and Europe. Unlike the Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition, the Tap required users to hit a button at the top of the cylinder to summon Alexa, which wasn’t exactly convenient (why would you tap on a button to then ask a smart assistant to turn off the lights when you can just tap the light switch yourself?).
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Amazon later rectified the issue, which was presumably to save battery life on the rechargeable product, but the Tap was still discontinued last year in the United States – suggesting that users didn’t flock to it after the action that gave it its name was dropped from the product.
For those in the West, there are some third-party accessories designed to bring portability to the Amazon Echo. Manufacturer i-Box sells a small clip-on base for the latest-generation Amazon Echo Dot that brings a battery pack so you can take your Echo Dot wherever you go (as long as there is an internet connection). According to the company, the 10,000 mAh built-in rechargeable battery means you can listen to music for up to 12 hours from a single charge.
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.
If you’re living in India, you don’t need to worry about these third-party accessories. Amazon’s Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition is available to order right now. It starts at 4,999 rupees (which converts to roughly £50, or $70) and will ship on December 18, 2019. After the introductory price ends, it will cost 5,999 rupees (£64, or $84).