The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
- The first generation of the Amazon Echo Plus is $50 cheaper when you buy a refurbished version right now.
- The Echo Plus has a ZigBee antenna inside, which allows it to communicate directly with certain smart home accessories instead of through a third-party hub.
- Amazon recently released a second-generation Echo Plus with a better speaker and new look, but no improvements to its smart home features.
- I use the first-generation Echo Plus every day, and it was one of the best tech purchases I made last year. It was a great smart home upgrade for $130, but at its current $80 price, it’s a no-brainer.
If you’re a smart home enthusiast thinking about finally getting an Amazon Echo device, your choice is clear: the Echo Plus.
Unlike other Echoes, the Plus has a ZigBee antenna built inside. This antenna lets the Echo Plus work directly with certain smart home accessories, like Philips’ Hue bulbs, which usually require plugging in an additional hub, which acts as a bridge to let the smart bulbs and Echo work together.
The refurbished first-generation Echo Plus usually costs $129.99, but it’s available for only $79.99 right now. That $50 difference is enough to pay for a four-pack of Hue bulbs. This Echo Plus also comes with Amazon’s standard warranty, so if something seems weird out of the box, you can easily return it.
I’ve owned the first-generation Echo Plus to replace my original Amazon Echo, and it was the best smart home upgrade I’ve made. The Plus has a better speaker, and setting up my pre-existing smart home accessories with it was extremely easy.
To pair new accessories, all I had to to say was “Alexa, discover devices,” and wait a minute for the Echo Plus to scan my apartment. The new accessories would pop up, and I’d be all set. Some smart home tech, like Eufy’s 30C smart vacuum, will still require downloading a separate app for setup, but many can be found automatically.
Amazon recently released a second-generation Echo Plus, but it’s $70 more expensive and not very different. It has a better speaker, the ability to be paired with a second Echo Plus for stereo sound, and a fabric-wrapped design that matches the aesthetic of Amazon’s redesigned Echo.
These improvements are significant if you use the Echo as a standalone Bluetooth speaker, but they don’t make a difference if you plan on pairing your Echo with an external speaker. There are no differences between the first and second-generation Echo Plus as a smart home hub.
I paid $150 for the first-generation Echo Plus last year, and it was one of the best tech purchases I made in 2017. If you’ve been on the fence about an Echo, or have been trying to plan out the simplest way to start or expand your smart home, don’t miss this deal.