The Amazon Echo at its heart is a Bluetooth speaker, able to connect to just about anything. But its real power lies in its brains. Amazon's basically crammed what you'd expect to find from Google Now or Apple's Siri into this little cylinder. And that means you can ask it question. Tell it to play music. Or add items to a shopping list. Or order things directly from Amazon. Get news, weather and more. And it's integrated all sorts of other services into it.
All from one 9-inch speaker.
Echo for most of 2015 was only available via an invite system. But in June Amazon opened purchases to anyone and everyone, for $179. (That's a good bit more than the early adopters had to pay.) But the Echo has easily become one of our favorite accessories of the year.
Buy Echo at Amazon
On March 3, 2016, Amazon introduced a newer, more compact version of the Echo, dubbed the Echo Dot. The Echo Dot features many of the same features as that of its older sibling, but doesn't feature the larger Bluetooth speaker. It can however connect to external speakers, bringing more options to its voice functionality in your smart home.
Echo Dot can currently be purchased by Prime members through their Amazon Echo devices (weird, right?)
21 February 2015
Everything has to be smarter these days. Connected to something. Connected to everything. And these days we have to talk to those things.
Google brought us, well, Google Now. But excellent as it is, you're taking to a machine. Apple personified things with Siri. And now Amazon has Alexa in its Amazon Echo Bluetooth speaker. Why? Oh, why not. On one hand you've got a decent speaker that ties into Amazon music. And lets you make shopping lists for later. On Amazon, of course.
But really that's just the tip of the iceberg with Alex. And it's a bit of an odd product, not available for general purchase. You register your interest with Amazon, finally are given the opportunity to buy, and then wait a few weeks until it ships. Maybe available will expand, maybe it won't. It took about a month for ours to arrive, a few minutes to get it set up, and not much longer to see that this thing has some serious potential. The question is whether that potential leads to anything on down the road.
And if it does, the likes of Google and Apple are going to find themselves with even more of a competitor in Amazon.
small changes with massive impact
19 November 2015
It's been a year since Amazon first announced the Echo, and there's been no shortage of changes to the underlying software since that day. Here's a look at how the experience has progressed.
Alexa, do it for me
04 December 2015
Amazon's home assistant speaker is an incredible add-on to just about every home, but you need to know how to set it up if you're going to get the most out of it. Here's what you need to know.
04 April 2016
Echo Dot is what you get if you lop off the top inch and a half of an Echo. All the brains in a smaller stature, with a smaller price to go along with it.
19 December 2015
The latest weekly update to the Amazon Echo brings a number of new features to the speaker, including Star Wars knowledge to answer your questions and you can now find out if you are on the naughty or nice list.
Alexa, connect my home
24 November 2015
The list of things Amazon Echo can do seems to grow by the day, but none of these new features is more powerful than the ability to initiate IFTTT recipes with your voice. Here's a short list of our favorites.
18 November 2015
Amazon has a huge leg up on the likes of Google and Microsoft and Apple with its Amazon Echo connected speaker. So why is nobody taking on Alexa?
11 May 2016
Google is reportedly working on a voice search-powered device called Chirp that is meant to compete in the same space as the Amazon Echo.