And for something completely out of left field, we bring you the Amazon Echo. Echo is yet another new hardware device from Amazon, but this time it’s a 9.25” tall speaker with built-in voice recognition instead of another tablet or smartphone.
The Echo uses beam-forming technology to “hear you from any direction” and awakens to the wake word, “Alexa.” After saying “Alexa,” the internet-connected speaker awakens to answer your requests regarding news, weather, and of course your music library — Echo supports all the songs in your Amazon Music library, ad-free Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio.
Alexa learns to adapt to your voice and gets smarter as you make more requests of it. As Amazon describes, Echo “adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.”
In addition to connecting to the internet via Wi-Fi, you can also stream music (Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora) from your smartphone or tablet (Fire OS devices, iOS, and Android are supported) to Echo using Bluetooth.
As for the device itself, it features dual, downward-pointing speakers that provide 360-degree omnidirectional audio along with a volume ring on top that lights up. Seven microphones (for Alexa) are embedded below the volume ring.
Amazon’s Echo won’t be cheap; the device is priced at $199 and will ship within the next few weeks. However, Amazon Prime members that receive an invite (you can signup here) can get the device for $99 for a limited time.