Amazon just a new released a new, voice-controlled device called Amazon Echo that can give you information like news and the weather, play music, make to-do lists, and answer questions, similar to Siri or Google Now (for example, you could ask something like “How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?” and it would give you the answer out-loud).
It’s like a personal assistant combined with a speaker:
Echo connects to your Wi-Fi and gets its information from the cloud, and Amazon says that it will continually learn and add more functionality over time.
The idea is that you can have it somewhere in your house and, using the wake-up word “Alexa,” constantly be asking it to do things like answer questions, give you information about a topic, or add things to your to-do list. You can also give it commands like, “Set an alarm for 8 a.m.”
Check out the specs:
Echo’s seven microphones allow it to hear commands and questions from across the room, even when it’s already playing music and its speakers are loud enough to fill a room with sound. You can tell Echo to play music from Amazon Music or Prime Music (Amazon’s radio streaming service) accounts, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn, or, because Echo is Bluetooth-enabled, you can use it to stream music from your phone or tablet.
The device costs $199 or $99 for Prime members, but, as of now, you need to request an invitation to get it.
This latest hardware move comes only a week after Amazon announced a new TV streaming stick. Last month, Amazon also released a new line of Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets, and announced that it still had $83 million worth of unsold inventory from its new Fire smartphone.
Watch Amazon’s video about the device: