Amazon introduces a $149 premium Echo device that's designed to make it easier to make your home smarter

Amazon echo plusMatt Weinberger/Business InsiderDave Limp, a senior vice president at Amazon, introduces the new Echo Plus at the company’s press event in Seattle on Wednesday.

Amazon now has a new, higher-end smart speaker.

The Echo Plus, which the company announced at a press event in Seattle on Wednesday, offers better sound than Amazon’s other smart speakers. It’s available starting today at $US149.

In addition to its improved sound, the Echo Plus also includes a hub for home-automation products. That’s designed to make it simple to connect the smart speaker with connected home gadgets like smart light bulbs and automated door locks.

Previous Echo devices can connect with smart-home gadgets, but only if you install the appropriate skill or app first.

“There’s no apps, there’s no skills, it just works out of the box,” said Dave Limp, an Amazon senior vice president.

In a demo, Limp asked an Echo Plus to detect new smart devices. Within a minute it detected and connected to some light bulbs. It then prompted Limp to name the new devices.

The home automation feature works with many existing smart-home gadgets, and Amazon will ship the Echo Plus with a Philips Hue smart light bulb. The new feature could pit Amazon against companies that offer similar services, including Samsung with its SmartThings system.

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