Amazon has introduced the first portable, Echo-branded smart speaker in India. Called the Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition, it functions largely like any other Echo device with the exception of a built-in 4,800mAh battery. That means it doesn’t constantly need to be plugged into a power source and can last for up to 10 hours before you have to top it up again.
“Portability has been one of the most requested features in India. You want to be able to carry Alexa with you from room to room within your homes. So we have designed something just for you,” said Amazon’s vice president of Alexa Devices, Miriam Daniel.
The Amazon Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition, for now, will be a limited-edition variant and exclusively available in India. It’s priced at 5,999 rupee (about $84), 1,500 rupee (about $21) more than the third-gen Echo Dot and will begin shipping on December 18. Early customers, however, can buy it at an introductory price of 4,999 rupee ($70). Amazon said it will eventually make its way to other countries including the United States but didn’t specify a timeline.
The new speaker takes most of its design cues from the company’s existing models and looks like a mashup of the Echo Input and Echo Dot. It has a standard set of physical buttons to adjust the volume levels, mute the microphones, and turn it off.
You’ll also find a handful of LEDs that light up when you tap the power key to indicate the current battery level. Due to the added battery, it is beefier and weighs 200g more than the latest Echo Dot. You can talk to Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, and control your smart home appliances as long as the speaker is connected to the internet. It charges over a Micro USB port and carries the same array of four far-field microphones as the Echo Dot.
Despite what you may think, the Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition can’t be employed as a regular Bluetooth portable speaker. It’s meant to be carried around inside a house and on top of that, doesn’t have a 3.5mm audio port.
Amazon is one of the many U.S.-based companies which has been investing billions of late to tap into India’s burgeoning goldmine of millions of new internet users. The company recently also added support for a range of Indian regional languages to its e-commerce platform, Prime Video streaming service, and set up kiosks in shopping malls for offline shoppers. By bringing portability to the Echo, Amazon likely intends to attract users who often suffer power cuts and primarily rely on mobile hot spots to browse the web.