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Amazon’s New Echo Speaker and Assistant

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Amazon has been trying to figure out their future business plans, and creating consumer electronics products appears to be their biggest focus. With the Fire Phone not being successful, as they had thought, the Echo is their latest attempt to woo the tech industry. This time, Amazon is offering a product that will act as a wireless speaker and voice-activated assistant.

What is it?

The Echo is continuously listening for the wake word, which appears to be “Alexa”, though in the video below, the actor says it wakes to “the wake word we chose”, so it’s unclear at this point whether or not that is a set word. Nonetheless, once, it’s woken, you can say a slew of commands, including simple questions about weather, time, and general info like the height of Mount Everest. You can also have it play music from your Amazon Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio (and probably other services once the product has been out longer).

What’s in it?

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 9.16.06 PMAs far as the specs go, it’s got a 2.5″ woofer and 2″ tweeter, bluetooth, “fast Wi-Fi” (likely AC, though not specified at this point), seven microphones for “far-field voice recognition”, and is a total of 9.25″ tall with a diameter of 3.27″. These specs should give it a fairly clean sound with easy-to-use functionality without having to scream at it to get it to recognize when someone is talking.

As you can see in the very cheesy introduction video below, it appears to be very easy to use (though so does everything else in a video):

 

 

 

Amazon’s Plan

Amazon has been offering more and more devices that allow customers to easily order products from Amazon, including the Amazon Dash and barcode scanner app for phones. This new product will allow customers to add more to their shopping list by just telling Echo they want it added. With Amazon Fresh, people will even be able to get groceries without even having to pick up their device and go to the store.

The cost of the device is set at $199 for non-Prime members and $99 for Prime members. This is fairly comparable to other wireless speakers, so it should theoretically be a successful device.

Amazon has been attempting to change the tech landscape for quite some time now, and this is yet another try. With it being invite-only at the moment, they will be able to see if it’s successful or not, and decide where to go from there. Amazon really needs to figure something out, as they continue to lose money, or they will eventually go under, which isn’t something most people want to see.

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