Amazon has really entered the consumer electronics space in the past few years. The of course have their Kindle line, but also the Fire TV, Fire TV stick and Fire Phone. They have just announced a new product called Echo, which is a voice-controlled speaker that not only supports streaming music, but also order commands for items on Amazon.
The speaker itself has a cylindrical design, is all black and looks pretty sleek. When it comes to functionality the speaker can provide music, news, weather and more. And this is all controlled by your voice. According to Amazon the speaker is capable of hearing you from “across the room” and since it is always online it is capable of becoming smarter as it adapts to its own environment.
The top of the unit houses seven microphones and the lid relies on beam-forming technology to hear you from any direction. It has built-in noise cancellation so you can even ask it a question while music is playing. The “brain” of Echo is in the cloud running on Amazon Web Services so it will continually learn and add functionality over time. The more than you use Echo the more that it will adapt to your speech patern, vocabulary and personal preferences.
The unit will have hands-free voice control for Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. It also has Bluetooth support so you can pretty much stream anything else that has an app for a phone or tablet. There is an accompanying app for Fire OS and Android, although iOS and desktop users will have to use a web app. Amazon has said that this is only the start for Echo and more features will be added over time.
For now Prime members can pre-order Echo for $99, while the standard price is set at $199. Interestingly enough you actually need an invite to even pre-order. You can request an invite here. There is no set ship date yet or one mentioned.