Top critical review
Good... just good. Not that much better than previous generations
November 2, 2017
If you already have an Echo, I'm not sure there much, or any reason to upgrade to this new echo. First, for those people buying this Echo in order to get rid of your current hubs, that may or may not be possible. If you have a Hue hub, this Echo Plus is not a direct replacement for it. In addition to bulbs, the Hue hub supports motion sensors, dimmer switches, and tap switches. It also supports Apple Homekit. If you deregister your Hue peripherals from the Hue hub, and try and connect them to the Echo Plus, while the bulbs will connect, the motion sensors and dimmer switches will not. Also, you will lose Apple Homekit support. You will also lose all the automations the Hue hub supports like sunrise to sunset and other automation. Also, if your internet goes out, your Hue hub will continue to work and you will be able to control your lights with the Hue app. If your internet goes out, the Echo Plus will not be able to control your lights by voice, or the Alexa app. Lastly, all the 3rd party Hue apps are designed to work with the Hue bridge, not the Echo Plus. So, those apps will also not work.
If your current hub is Z-Wave, then the Echo Plus will also not be a direct replacement for it. You will need to keep that hub as well the Echo Plus does not have a Z-Wave radio in it. If you want to do simple things like turn a ZigBee bulb on and off, and dim it, then the Echo Plus works fine. If you want to do more complicated scenarios, then you will need to keep, or buy a another hub. Since Zigbee is the only protocol that is supported at this time, you need to look for light bulbs, and some other peripherals, that use that protocol in order for it work with the Echo Plus. But with that said, there will be some devices that use Zigbee that will still need their manufactures hub to work. So, again, it will not be as simple as looking for a ZigBee device and expecting it work with the Echo Plus. Since there is currently no supported list of devices, trial and error is going to be your best bet in trying to figure out which ZigBee devices work with the Echo Plus and which do not.
As for sound, that part if more subjective. I like a little more base in my music. The Echo Plus sacrifices bass for treble in this new design. So, to me, it does not sound as great as the previous Echo. To me, it sounds a little flat. My old Echo sounds much richer and fuller than the Plus. So, if you like your music with more bass, then you might be disappointed here as well.
Apart from the above, the Echo Plus does everything the old Echo does, so I'm not going to repeat everything here as you can read about those features in reviews of the last generation Echo. The microphones on the Echo Plus seems more sensitive to the previous generation though. It appears to be able to hear me more, even when the music is turned out loud. Where the old Echo had issues doing that. Also, the Plus has a 3.5 mm audio jack. Therefore, you can more easily connect it to your stereo, external speakers, etc. with a wire, if Bluetooth is not an option.
So, all in all, the Echo Plus is good device, but I don't think it's that much better than the previous generation to warrant an upgrade. If an upgrade is wanted, then depending on you hub needs, the smaller newer Echo might be the better choice. If you are new to the smart home arena, then try and figure out what you want your smart home to do, then pick the best system(s) that get you want you want. Don't assume the Echo Plus will solve all your smart home needs.