When is the Echo 2 release date?
You can order a second-generation Echo from Amazon right now, as it came out on 31 October.
How much does the Echo 2 cost?
It's £89.99 ($89.99 in the US) and it comes in six different finishes. Right now it's even cheaper in the UK, just £69.99 for Amazon's Black Friday sale.
Fabrics: Charcoal, Sandstone and Heather Grey
Wood / metallic: Oak Finish, Walnut Finish and Silver Finish
If you buy three, you save £50 by using the code ECHO3PACK at the checkout. Or, if you only want two, you can get £25 off using the code ECHO2PACK.
What's new in the Echo 2?
It has a new design and you get a choice between fabric or wood/metallic finishes (much like the Google Home). The shells are swappable so you can change the style whenever you like.
Note that the silver model is plastic rather than actual metal. It's certainly a step up from the somewhat basic plastic design of the original.
It's much more compact than the original, but loses the rotating volume dial at the top - that's replaced with the Echo Dot-style volume buttons on top.
There's a new 2.5in speaker inside with is supplemented by a tweeter (just like in the original Echo). Audio is processed by a Dolby system, and Amazon claims it sounds much better than the first-gen Echo.
The microphones have been improved to give better recognition when you're further away and when music is already playing loudly. Currently, it's a bit hit and miss whether Alexa hears you if it's noisy in the room.
Specifically, the new system features better wake word processing, improved beam-forming technology, and better noise cancellation.
The new Echo has a 3.5mm line out and can also be paired with Bluetooth speakers.
New Alexa features
The great thing about Alexa is that Amazon keeps adding new features and capabilities. Now, you can call other Alexa users (either those with an Echo or simply use the Alexa app) from your Echo, set reminders and play music in sync on all your Echos around the house.
Another new feature is Routines. This lets you combine several tasks into one command. So if you say, "Alexa, good evening" she could turn on the lights, turn off the heating and read your Flash Briefing to give you the news and weather forecast.