Amazon is said to be working on a higher-end Echo smart speaker, according to a new report today, and that’s no surprise given how successful Sonos and Google have been with more powerful versions of their smart speakers.

This high-quality Echo packs more audio components into a wider frame than prior models, reports Bloomberg, yet it should still retain its signature cylindrical shape. It will include at least four tweeters, said people familiar with the product.

It’s an obvious move for Amazon, which has already cornering the smart speaker market at other price points. But it’s left a void at the top, one that the Sonos Play:1 and Google Home Max have filled.

The Echo line of Alexa-powered speakers are frequent best sellers, especially during major sales seasons, like the upcoming Amazon Prime Day 2019.

High-end audio…and a home robot?

The bigger Echo is being developed by Amazon’s hardware R&D division Lab126, which had previously reported to be working on an Alexa-controlled home robot called Vesta. Today’s news affirms that work continues on the domestic ‘bot, which was expected to be at least introduced this year, but is reportedly not ready for mass-production.

Just what Vesta can do is still a mystery, but today’s Bloomberg report sheds more light on the product: prototypes are around waist-height and get around thanks to computer-vision cameras. That sounds like the kind of computer-assisted navigation that Amazon has left to Google’s Waymo and Apple’s self-driving car experiments, which is intriguing territory for a company that made its bones on hardware basics.

Details are still scarce about both projects, and neither are seemingly far enough along to have release dates. 



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