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Amazon Finally Sells a Proper Smart Home Control Panel

Amazon Finally Sells a Proper Smart Home Control Panel

It’s about a decade overdue, but Amazon finally sells a smart home control panel. The wall-mountable Echo Hub costs $180 and provides direct access to all of your smart home devices, including Echo speakers and smart displays.

This is a pretty interesting offering from Amazon. The Echo Hub has a flush design and is meant to be mounted to the wall. It receives power over a USB-C cable, though it also supports PoE, which may simplify installation in some smart homes. A set of proximity sensors (which can’t be used as Alexa motion sensors) tell the Echo Hub to illuminate its 8-inch display when someone’s nearby, while integrated microphones and speakers handle voice commands and audio playback.

A unique software interface is at the heart of Echo Hub. Instead of presenting users with a mess of unrelated information, Echo Hub provides immediate access to all of your smart home products and routines. It supports most modern smart home standards and can control Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Matter, Sidewalk and Thread devices. Of course, Ring subscribers also get a live view of their Ring security cameras.

And, interestingly, Echo Hub gives you more control over other Echo products. You can see what your Echo devices are doing from the Echo Hub, or even use the Echo Hub as a whole-home audio control system. Echo Hub can join your chorus of Echo speakers when playing music, though I should point out that the Echo Hub’s speakers aren’t all that powerful.

Technically speaking, the Echo Show smart display can deliver a lot of this functionality. But the Echo Show makes for a pretty crappy smart home hub. It’s simply too entertainment-oriented. Plenty of people have tried to use the Echo Show as a smart home hub, and they inevitably come out with complaints. The Echo Hub is a purpose-built smart home controller—if that’s what you want, skip the Echo Show and buy the Echo Hub.

Note that Amazon initially announced the Echo Hub at its Fall 2023 hardware event. It’s been in a pre-order phase for several months, and some reviewers were granted early access to the device. As a result, you can already find several reviews or testimonials on YouTube and other websites.

You can purchase the Amazon Hub today for $180. For reference, I don’t believe that this should be your first Echo device, as one of its big selling points is the ability to manage multiple Echo speakers and displays. If you’re looking for an entrypoint to the Alexa hardware ecosystem, try the Echo Dot. Or, check if your Fire tablet supports Amazon’s Echo smart display mode.

Source: Amazon

The article was first published here

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