The Amazon Echo speaker with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and voice-control abilities is finally being mass-produced after being invite-only since November. Amazon announced Tuesday the device will now be available for purchase. The 9.25-inch tall cylinder has undergone a number of updates since its debut and is now positioned as a smarthome hub. You can use Amazon’s built-in voice-recognition software, Alexa, to control things like the lighting and thermostat in your home, thanks to support from a number of developers like Philips and Belkin.
In addition to controlling devices, Alexa is a cloud-based service, so you can ask it for the weather forecast and other information.
Amazon says the Echo is “designed around your voice. Is hands-free and always on. With seven microphones and beam-forming technology, Echo can hear you from across the room -- even while music is playing.” All you have to do is say the wake-word, you can choose between Amazon and Alexa.
A lot of products that are designed in the Amazon lab126, like the Dash -- a device with a button to summon Amazon delivery of household items like detergent -- never get past the invite-only stage of development (it’s still invite-only), showing the Echo has been a success with early-adopters.
If you have a large multistory home, you might have to consider purchase of more than one Echo to control devices on different levels.
Echo is priced at $179.99 with free shipping and is available for preorder now. Amazon said the device will ship July 14.