Amazon Echo comes to UK and Germany

echoukAmazon has announced that the Alexa, the Echo and the All-new Echo Dot are coming to the UK and Germany. The devices will be available in both black and white in the UK on September 28, 2016. The Echo will cost £149.99 and is now available for pre-order on the website. If you are a member of Amazon Prime in the UK you can pre-order until 5:00 PM on September 16 at the special price of £99.99. The Echo Dot sells for £49.99. There is more information at

In Germany, the Echo will sell for €179,99 and will be released on October 26, 2016. The Echo Dot retails for €59,99. According to the Amazon press release (via Google Translate), Prime members in Germany can request a €50 discount until September 16, 2016. There is more information on the Echo at

Up until now, Echos have only been sold in the United States and been tied to US accounts. There has been quite a bit of discussion in the past about when these would be available internationally. No one is sure yet exactly how this is going to work in terms of devices sharing accounts between different countries, but it seems like a lot of people are going to be very excited to find out! Press Release Press Release

The new Echo Dot: what’s changed from the original

bw_echoToday, Amazon confirmed yesterday’s rumors by releasing announcing a second generation Echo Dot. It is officially called the All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) and it retails for $49.99. Like the newly refreshed Amazon Echo, the new Dot will be available in both black and white and will be available on October 20, 2016.

The Dot is also being offered in a “Buy 5, get 1 free” six-pack and a ““Buy 10, get 2 free” twelve-pack” . The new Echo Dot will be released on October 20, 2016.

The last iteration of the Echo Dot was $90 and could only be ordered by Prime members using either an Amazon Echo or a Fire TV remote. This generation’s model can be ordered online by anyone. Previous purchasers of the Echo Dot can use Alexa to order and get a $10 credit (restrictions apply).

So what’s different about the new model besides the price and the method of ordering?

  • The new Dot is smaller. Both devices have a  3.3″ diameter but is the new one is 1.3″ tall vs 1.5″ height of the original.
  • The new Dot weighs a couple of ounces less.
  • Original Dot included a four foot long 3.5mm stereo audio cable. That cable is an optional purchase for the new Dot.
  • The new Dot has ESP (Echo Spatial Perception), which calculates the clarity of the voice. The idea is that when more than one Alexa-enabled device is present, the device nearest you will respond. It may also help in noisy environments.
  • The original Dot had a rotary volume dial like the full size Echo. The 2nd generation has volume buttons similar to the Amazon Tap.
  • There does not seem to be a power indicator light on the 2nd generation.
  • There appear to be minor cosmetic differences (slashes instead of circles for mic holes and a slightly glossier finish for the 2nd generation).
  • The original came with a 1 year warranty. The 2nd generation only comes with a 90 day warranty.

Because the Echo Dot is designed to work with other devices, this morning, Amazon was offering some interesting bundles like an Echo Dot coupled with the Bose Soundlink Mini II. Interestingly, by this evening, those bundles were no longer being offered.

The lack of the 3.5mm cable surprised me. We use ours with a stereo that doesn’t have Bluetooth, so that cable for the AUX jack is really a necessity. And given the fact that some of the 1st generation Echo Dots had overheating problems, I would have much rather seen a 1 year warranty. Although, for $50, for some people, it may not matter.

Are you interested in one of the new devices?

Daily Links and Deals: It’s official — ebooks really are books and Euro tax could plummet

daily_links_1Today, news that the EU has finally (and sensibly) ruled that ebooks are actually books, paving the way to lower VAT prices. Also, a look at how New York City’s public WiFi is serving the poor, a new way for YouTube creators to interact with their followers and how one library is making itself a public space attraction. In deals, savings on Fossil bags and watches and a Panasonic bread machine. Also, new choices for the Amazon Echo and a new generation of the Echo Dot.

Daily Links for day, September 14, 2016:

Is New York City’s Public Wi-Fi Actually Connecting the Poor? (Motherboard) Part of the mission of LinkNYC is to address the digital divide. How’s it actually doing?

YouTube launches ‘Community’ in beta w/ a new tab for posting text, images, GIFs, and more (9 to 5 Google) Now content creators can engage with their followers directly.

It’s official — ebooks really are books and Euro tax could plummet (Roger Packer) This opens the door to slash the very high EU VAT on ebooks. (This story was in the Financial Times yesterday, but I won’t link to paywalled content.)

Shhhh…ake it off at the library, the new happening place to be (KUOW) How libraries are re-imagining themselves as public spaces.

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Good Earth (The Good Earth Trilogy Book 1) by Pearl S. Buck.

In Today’s Deals, get 50% off Fossil watches, bags and more. Also, there’s a Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker with Yeast Dispenser, White.

Echo news:  Amazon has now released the Echo a second color. You can pre-order now to get it in white. It will be available on September 28, 2016. There is also an  All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) which will be available in both black and white and retails for $49.99.  Amazon is offering some interesting bundles, like the one pairing a Echo Dot with the Bose Soundlink Mini II. The Dot is also being offering in a “Buy 5, get 1 free” six-pack. The new Echo Dot will be released on October 20, 2016.

Alexa and the Echo and the Echo Dot are also coming to the UK and later, Germany. See for details.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen. The Romance Daily Find is Imaginary Men by Anjali Banerjee.

Barnes and Noble also has a selection of NOOK Books Under $2.99.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is The Big Thaw by Donald Harstad. The Extra Daily Deal is Mad Tinker Chronicles Collection by J.S. Morin.

There is also a selection of Great Reads Under $5 and Bargain Reads in Fiction, in Mystery and other genres. The Kobo Aura One (and the Aura Edition 2 e-readers are now available for order at the Kobo store. (The Aura One is out of stock until September 23, 2016.)

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee.

Google Books has a selection of Topsellers Under $10.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

Echo rumors: A new Echo Dot and a British Alexa

dot_aThe rumors have been flying for a bit that Amazon intends to release an UK version of the Amazon Echo tomorrow, September 14th.

The rumors were fueled by the fact that if you asked an Amazon Echo “What’s happening September 14th?”, Alexa would answer some variation on, “I promised I wouldn’t tell, but maybe I should start packing in case I get an invitation. A visit to London has always been on my bucket list”

A press conference has been scheduled for Wednesday, September 14, 2016 for the release of an unidentified device. Many believe that the topic will be the announcement of the UK version of an Echo device. To date, the Alexa-enabled devices have only been released in the United States.

More rumors flew yesterday when Amazon Twitter account tweeted “Introducing the all-new Echo Dot. Add Alexa to any room — now for just $49.99.” The tweet, which was immediately deleted, linked to the old Echo Dot page here. The original Echo Dot sold for $89.99. It could only be ordered through the Amazon Echo or the Fire TV and was constantly sold out. The item was apparently discontinued in at the end of July (there are conflicting stories about that: some customers were told it was discontinued; CNET and other customers were told it would be returning).

A lot of people were extremely upset at the unavailability of the Echo Dot. We use ours a lot and I personally would have bought another one if I could have gotten it before they stopped selling them. At $40 cheaper than the original, if the feature set remains the same or gets improved, this will be a big seller, especially if Amazon opens up the orders to all customers.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!


Amazon announces new Echo devices: The Tap and Echo Dot

echo_dotToday, Amazon announced two additions to the Amazon Echo family:  The Amazon Tap and the Echo Dot.

The Amazon Tap is a smaller, portable device that is similar to the Echo, but with some big differences. The Tap is considered to be an Alexa enabled device. Alexa devices are always on. With the Tap, you must turn the device on to access the Alexa features. This feature is a bonus if you are someone (like me) that has privacy concerns and does not want an always on device.

It is smaller that the Echo (6.2 inches to the Echo’s 9 inch height). Unlike the Echo, the Tap can connect to wi-fi hot spots using the Alexa app. While the original Echo was designed to be used at home, the lack of wi-fi connectivity for the had been a problem for some users trying to use it while traveling. Like the Echo, the Tap requires the Alexa app for settings and connecting to the Internet or wi-fi networks.

Since it is designed to be portable, the Amazon Tap comes with a specially designed charging cradle and retails for $129.99. The device will ship March 31, 2016. The optional sling is $19.99.  You can find out more information or order the Tap here.

The Echo Dot is currently available in limited quantities and is only being offered to Amazon Prime members. The item also can only be ordered through Alexa Voice Shopping. It can only be ordered through the Echo or the Amazon Fire TV.

The dot is a small (1.5″ x 3.3″ x 3.3″) device that can be connected to other speakers, making its most obvious purpose the ability to add voice controls to “dumb” speakers . It is only being offered to to those already using the Alexa system, although it seems to have many of the same capabilities (playing music, controlling smart lights, etc.). It does have a small built in speakers. It is bluetooth capable, although not with systems which require a pin for pairing. Like the Echo, this device is must be plugged in and is designed for use with a home wi-fi system. The device retails for $89.99. You can read more about it here.

I am seriously thinking about giving the Tap a try. I did notice in the video on Amazon that everyone seems to be picking the Tap up and using it like a microphone, while people always seem to talk to the Echo from across the room. I wonder if there is a difference in the microphone technology between the two devices?

How about you? Do either of these look interesting? If you have an Echo and would like to share any thoughts, I’d love to hear what you think. 🙂