In Short

Amazon Echo has come a long way in just a few short years. For starters, there's more than one Echo. As of August 2017, we've got four Amazon Echo devices, actually.

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There's the original Echo from late 2014 — a nine-inch speaker that stands alone with Wifi, or works directly with your phone via Bluetooth. That was followed up in March 2016 with the diminutive Echo Dot — smaller and about a third of the cost, with the ability to send its audio out to a more proper speaker. And in 2017 we got two new Echo devices — Echo Look, which is sort of an experimental camera for fashionistas, and Echo Show, which is sort of an original Echo with a 7-inch touchscreen.

(There's also the Amazon Tap, which basically is a portable Echo, only without the "Echo" name. Weird, but whatever.)

Echo is the hardware. What makes it more than just a speaker is Alexa, Amazon's maven for all things connected. Alexa can answer questions. Alexa can perform commands. Alexa hooks into your calendar and your smart-home products and other services. And now there's Alexa calling — voice calls and messaging for the Echo devices, as well is to smartphones via the Alexa app.

Both Alexa and the Echo devices continue to get better — and smarter. This is only the beginning.

See the Echo Family at Amazon