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Amazon Echo Plus: Not plus enough

Echo-4

The “plus” in the Amazon Echo Plus is an integrated ZigBee smart-home hub. It’s a feature that boosts this smart speaker’s price tag by a third compared to the $100 second-generation Echo, and by a factor of three compared to the $50 second-generation Echo Dot. Having one smart appliance do the job of two sounds like a good idea, but most people will be happier with a more powerful smart-home hub that works in conjunction with Alexa, even if the combination costs more.

Don’t get me wrong. Amazon is way out in front when it comes to enabling voice control of the smart home, thanks and the  as well as big installers such as  and —and a deep commitment to helping any and every interested third-party manufacturer tap into its Amazon Voice Service (i.e., its Alexa digital assistant). I can recommend any Echo model—except this one. That’s because Amazon built only half of a smart home hub into the Echo Plus—it didn’t include support for the other very popular smart home protocol: Z-Wave.

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