Just when you thought there was no room for another smart display in Amazon’s lineup, the Echo Hub appears.
At its big annual launch event, Amazon unveiled the compact device that’s designed to be put on the wall and offer easy access to your smart home devices.
Wait a minute, isn’t that what the Echo Show 15 does? Yep, but the Echo Hub is about the size of an Echo Show 8 with a dedicated smart home interface.
Amazon says this is a new type of device: it’s not simply an Echo Show 8 without the speakers on the back. And yet, from what I saw when I tried out the device, it’s easy to argue that it’s not that different at all.
The Echo Hub is much like an eight-inch Echo Show 15: it has built-in microphones and speakers so you can still use Alexa. The main difference is software. The customised interface puts your smart home devices front and centre and gives you interactive widgets that allow you to adjust the temperature of your heating (or cooling), turn lights and plugs on and off without first having to navigate to smart home control.
The device will also get an update in early 2024 so it can display Map View. That gives you an even more intuitive overview of your devices, because they appear in the right places on a floorplan of your home.
At $179.99 / £169.99, though, the Echo Hub is surprisingly expensive. Mainly because it costs more than the new Echo Show 8 which has the aforementioned bigger speakers that make it better for listening to music and entertainment.
Amazon is pitching the Echo Hub as a rival for other smart home controllers, though, and says it’s much cheaper than most of those, and supports Thread, Matter, Bluetooth and Zigbee. It’s designed to arm security systems, view security camera feeds and control blinds as well as turning the lights on and off.
If you do buy one and like it, chances are that you’ll want at least another because it’s less convenient to have one place in the home to have this sort of control. Then it becomes even more expensive.
When installing the Echo Hub, you’re asked which room it’s in. Then, controls for the devices in that room are given prominence. When you have multiple Echo Hubs, each can be dedicated to the room it is in.
The other thing to note is that it’s the first Echo device that can be powered by Power over Ethernet, which could be handy if your home is already wired for it.
Jim Martin / Foundry
You don’t have to mount it on the wall: there’s an optional stand so you can use it on a shelf, worktop or table.
If you already own several Echo Show devices, it could be slightly disappointing to know that Amazon doesn’t plan to make the Echo Hub’s interface available on them.
If you don’t, then the Echo Hub goes on sale “soon”.