Spurred by the success of Echo smart speakers and the growing smart home market in India, Amazon has come up with a portable Echo Input speaker for Indian customers. It will be initially available only in India at an introductory price of ₹4,999 with pre-order starting on 4 December on Amazon.in and the final release is expected on 18 December. The speaker is originally priced at ₹5,999.
More Indians are taking smart speakers home. In 2018, 7.53 lakh smart speakers were shipped to India with Amazon's Echo series accounting for 59% of the market share, according to research firm IDC (International Data Corporation).
As the name suggests, the Echo Input Portable has been designed to work wirelessly and can be easily carried around. Through customer feedback, Amazon realised there was a huge demand for a fully portable smart speaker.
"Customers in India love Alexa, and told us that they wanted a hands-free experience that could move from room-to-room," said Parag Gupta, head of Amazon Devices India.
Majority of smart speakers, be it Amazon's Echo lineup or Google's Home or Nest series, have to be plugged in at all times. However, a few vendors have started making inroads in this new category of devices. JBL's Link 10 and Link 20 smart speakers are also meant for portable use but support Google Assistant.
With a portable speaker that packs in a 4,800 mAh battery with a promised backup time of 10 hours on continuous playback, Amazon is trying to target the millennial users who like to carry their speakers around while playing music. It is also splash resistant so one can take it near swimming pools too. To ensure the speaker responds to voice commands while playing music, the speaker has 4 microphones built atop.
In terms of design, the speaker has a similar cylindrical form-factor for a 360 degree audio output and fabric finish on the lines of the flagship Echo speakers, but it is a lot smaller in size (weighing 581g) and won't be able to deliver as much punch as them. Amazon has used a 1.3W speaker in the Echo Input portable edition.
The speaker boasts all the trademark features of the Echo series such as the Alexa voice assistant which can answer queries, make a call, play music and control other compatible smart devices at home. Users can also take advantage of the vast repertoire of Alexa skills to carry out more specific tasks like ordering food,paying bills or booking a cab on the speaker. Alexa skills are like apps and add new capabilities to the AI (artificial intelligence) based virtual assistant.
For connectivity, the Echo Input portable edition needs full time access to WiFi, but one can play music from a smartphone via Bluetooth. It can also be paired to a standalone speaker for a richer music playback experience.