Amazon Echo 4th Generation The newest version of Amazon's Echo speaker combines a new spherical shape with new sound.

We love the Amazon Echo and all, but we have to admit: the cylindrical shape is boring as heck. That’s why, we’re thrilled to find out the outfit’s pioneering Alexa speaker is getting a redesign in the form of the 4th-generation Amazon Echo.

Instead of the cylinder shape it rocked for the last six years, the speaker is now coming in the shape of a ball. No, the darn thing won’t roll around the table while it plays a throbbing dance beat as it’s actually flat on the bottom, so it will hold its place in your side table, coffee table, or wherever else you decide to keep it.

The 4th-generation Amazon Echo has a spherical shape that measures 5.7 inches in diameter, although the bottom part is flattened to keep it stable on flat surfaces, so it only stands 5.2 inches tall. The front section is covered in a fabric grille to keep it presentable-looking, with capacitive buttons on top (volume up, volume down, action, and mic off) and a ring-shaped LED indicator at the base giving it some much-needed accents. Sadly, they didn’t integrate the digital clock found on the Echo Dot, which we really think would have elevated its appearance in a big way.

Accompanying the Echo’s new look is improved audio, courtesy of a 3-inch neodymium woofer and dual-firing 0.8-inch tweeters, which, the outfit claims, will deliver “clear highs, dynamic mids, and a deep bass” to give you rich and detailed sound. Granted, no one’s buying a sub-$100 speaker expecting a grandiose soundscape of aural delights, but given the decent quality of previous Echos, we’re hopeful this actually sounds pretty nice.

The 4th-generation Amazon Echo, naturally, comes with full Alexa support, allowing you to issue voice commands to the popular voice assistant to make it carry out a wide variety of digital tasks, from checking traffic and getting a new roundup to booking appointments and more. It’s also easy to pair with compatible devices (it supports Zigbee and Sidewalk), as you can simply say, “Alexa, discover my devices” to have it initiate setup with all the smart products you have at home. Of course, it comes with all of the Echo’s usual features, including serving as a communication device with other Echo speakers in your network, multi-room music playback, and access to thousands of downloadable skills.

Designed for improved privacy, the speaker comes with a mic off button that lets you completely disengage the mic to ensure no one is listening, along with the ability to view, play, and delete any of your voice recordings. There’s also parental controls support, which you can engage to make it give child-friendly responses, filter explicit music, block all shopping features (you don’t want kids racking up the credit card bill), and only allow communication with approved contacts. Other features include mostly recycled construction (100% recycled fabric and aluminum, 50% recycled plastics), low power idle mode, dual-band WiFi support, and a 3.5mm audio slot.

The 4th-generation Amazon Echo is available now.

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