Amazon Echo (image 001)

I’m not really sure what to think about Amazon’s crazy connected speaker with built-in personal digital assistant. What I do know is that the Echo could be a close approximation of what a next-generation Apple TV with built-in Siri might be like. Taking another swing at hardware, the Echo is well designed: it sports both sexy looks and the smarts.

It’s also got a few cool tricks up its sleeve to dazzle unsuspecting users. In a nutshell, the Echo will talk to you, play music, read your news headlines, check the weather, find facts online — and also sell you things — for $199.

Oh, and it’s an ”expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound”. The cylindrically shaped Echo responds to the “Alexa” keyword and can be controlled through a smartphone or tablet as well, though that kinda negates its hands-free, always-on philosophy.

Amazon Echo (image 005)

The device takes advantage of Amazon Web Services and incorporates as many as seven microphones that can pick your voice anywhere in a room and even hear you ask a question while it’s playing music.

Amazon Echo (image 004)

And because it’s connected to the cloud, the Echo gets smarter over time and can/will gain richer functionality via over-the-air firmware updates. Features like setting alarms, creating music playlists or adding items to shopping lists tap an accompanying Amazon Echo app for Android and Fire OS.

In addition to built-in music services like Amazon Music, Prime Music, TuneIn and iHeartRadio, the Echo can play music from your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. And in case you had any doubts, it will take your voice commands to order any item of your choosing available on Amazon’s web store.

Amazon Echo (image 002)

Amazon has put together a promotional video — it’s a bit over-the-top — which depicting a cloud-enabled family interacting with their Echo and using functions like playing music, setting an alarm, creating a shopping list, retrieving snippets of information form the Internet and what not.

Give it a quick watch if you have four minutes of spare time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkOCeAtKHIc

For the time being, the Echo is available on an invite-only basis for $199. If you’re a Prime member (a $99 per year value), you’ll save a cool $100 for a limited time.

Amazon Echo (image 003)

If selected, you shall receive an email invite to buy your Echo “in the coming weeks.”

To learn more about the gadget, visit amazon.com/echo.

What say you?

Is a tube that answers your question a terrible idea or do you see this accessory potentially gaining some traction in the living room?

  • Marvin

    alexa.. kill yourself

    • Jonathan

      My apologies, but my programmers did not allow me to commit suicide.

      • Bugs Bunnay

        not until we jailbreak you! mahahahaha

      • Jonathan

        How could such a thing be done? I have no USB connection to a computer.

      • Marvin

        over the air

      • Bugs Bunnay

        solder it. just like jtagging the 360 and modding the ps2 back in the days. easy.

  • Chris Buck

    UntetheredHeySiri tweak on iPhone;-) Plus add a flipswitch in flipcontrolcenter for faster turning on/off.

  • Jonathan

    1 plugged in iDevice
    Optional, UntetheredHeySiri
    1 audio jack
    unlimited number of speakers
    Connect wires
    Instant Siri in a room, whenever, wherever.

  • Dan

    pretty interesting device

  • I must say it is pretty cool, but then you realize that it’s basically Siri for your home. I like the idea of it, and if it played really nice with all my iOS set up, I would definitely go for it, but it doesn’t.

    For example, if I say “add this to my list,” it’s going to add it to some Amazon list instead of my Reminders app. If I tell it to play music, it won’t AirPlay that music to my receiver.

    Again, it’s cool, but it wouldn’t work for me.

    • Marvin

      caught in the ecosystem of Apple

    • Andrew Roth

      To be fair, if you told Siri to add something to your reminders app, it would add it to the stock app, and not whatever third party one you actually use. So even using Siri on the phone the list is on isn’t any better.

    • Troy Schuler

      Watching the video it looks like the list is using Evernote, but it doesn’t actually say it.

  • I’ve already got one of these, it’s called an iPhone

  • iNeedANameHere

    I think the JBL Pulse still looks a lot better and I don’t particularly care for a device that’s ALWAYS listening to everything said in my home. A lot of people don’t realize that if there’s a keyword to turn it on its actually constantly listing to everything you say looking for that keyword. And like I said. The JBL…. Mmmm

  • Merman123

    It’ll probably be fun for a day at most.

  • Ian Leon

    It looks like the computer from the movie “The first 20 Million is always the hardest”

    • Ian Leon

      This is from that movie from 2002

  • mark arellano

    I want it take my money now!!!!!

  • Neat new idea. But I don’t know about this always listening habit…

  • Ian Leon

    Dumbest family ever.