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Echo Hub hands-on: It’s all about the widgets

The $180 Echo Hub is designed to be wall-mounted but can be used as a tabletop device with a separate mount. | Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Amazon was keeping close guard over its new Echo Hub smart controller in the demo room at today’s big hardware event. But I managed to get a few seconds of hands-on with a working tabletop unit before it was whisked away. I also put it through its paces on the wall-mounted version, and while it responded to touches promptly in some cases, it’s no iPad — or even Fire tablet.

Maybe it’s asking too much to have a powerful tablet that controls your whole smart home, mounted on your wall, for under $180. The Echo Hub did promptly turn on a nearby lamp when I tapped “on.” It swiftly activated a Baby Crying Routine that started lullabies playing on an Echo Show 5. It accepted swipes and presses with good response times — faster than the…

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