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Amazon's new Echo Hub may be its most important smart home product yet

The wall-mountable hub serves as a centralized gateway to all of your home's smart gadgets, something Amazon's needed for years.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Echo Hub
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The more smart home devices you add to your house, the more challenging it becomes to manage them all. Now, Amazon is introducing its own hub designed as a central way to control your devices. Unveiled on Wednesday at Amazon's Devices event, the new Echo Hub is a wall-mountable control panel with an eight-inch touch screen and a customizable dashboard.

Using the dashboard, you'll be able to view and control any supported smart home device. For example, you can activate your security system, start an Alexa routine, rev up your fan, change the volume on an Echo speaker, and view the feed of your Ring security camera.

Also: Everything Amazon just announced: Alexa updates, new Echo Show, Fire tablets, and more

Starting next year, a new feature called Map View will reveal a diagram of your smart home, so you can pinpoint any connected device. Beyond using the touch screen, you can talk to the Echo Hub using Alexa without having to be right next to it.

When you're not actively using the hub, it turns into a display screen to show off family photos or deliver the time and weather. The hub even has an infrared sensor to detect when you're nearby and change what's shown on the screen.

The Echo Hub is compatible with more than 140,000 smart devices, according to Amazon. It also supports all the major connectivity standards, such as Matter and Thread. Plus, the hub works with power-over-ethernet (PoE) devices like Amazon's eero PoE Gateway to transmit both data and electrical power through Ethernet cables.

Also: Amazon is turning Alexa into a hands-free ChatGPT

Third-party smart home hubs have been on the market for a while, but they can be expensive, costing several hundred dollars. To gain a competitive edge, Amazon has priced the Echo Hub at $180.

The Amazon Echo Hub

"Today, smart home panels are expensive, they require professional installers, and they don't age well," Charlie French, Amazon's director of Smart Home, said at the event. "We set out to change that."

The Echo Hub is simple to set up, according to Amazon. You can install it with a USB-C cable and the in-box power adapter, or a compatible USB-C-to-RJ45 adapter for internet connectivity and power-over-ethernet.

Also: Every Amazon AI announcement you'll want to know about

A wall mount bracket is compatible with standard electrical box sizes, so you should be able to mount it over a box with in-wall cabling, while an angled bracket is also available if you'd rather mount it lower on the wall. People who don't want to mount it on the wall can place it on a compatible counter stand that will be offered by Amazon.

The Echo Hub will be available for purchase later this year.

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