The Amazon Echo is finally on sale

Marlene Weaver
May 9, 2017

The original Echo is priced at $180, while the smaller Echo Dot sells for $50, and the Echo Tap battery-powered unit goes for $130. Although there will be a global release for the Echo Knight just like the Echo, Amazon is still expected to wait quite some time in order to test out all the kinks from the device during its initial launch. Now, it's the voice-controlled speaker.

Last week several sites posted images of a device they claimed to be the upcoming Echo touchscreen speaker. How significant? One figure pegs usage rates jumping by nearly 130 percent, with over 35 million Americans set to use a smart speaker at least once per month. And there's a front-facing camera, meaning it could include some of the same features on the Echo Look. In second place is the Google Home with a 23.8% share.

All of these virtual assistants are available on smartphones - but Google and Amazon have made theirs available in the home as well via dedicated smart-speakers: Amazon Echo, and Google Home. Obviously, it will be powered by Amazon's Alexa digital voice-assistant inside.

Like fellow U.S. tech giants Google, Apple and Facebook, Amazon has continued to invest in Britain despite last year's vote to leave the European Union. Amazon's Alexa voice assistant is present in third-party gadgets also, but this may not be enough for the company to continue being the incontestable leader of the smart speaker market.

Previous reports suggested the new Amazon Echo might feature an adjustable display that could tilted according to whether the user was standing or sitting, although the images recently published online suggest the screen will be fixed.

"The installed base of Amazon Echo devices in US homes continues to grow", Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of CIRP, said in a statement. CIRP, which polled 500 US -based Amazon customers for its report, found awareness of the devices now sits at 86 percent, up from 61 percent a year ago, and 20 percent two years ago.

Google has its Google Assistant, Microsoft its Cortana and Apple its Siri.

In a recent interview with NDTV, Apple's senior vice president for worldwide marketing was asked for his opinion of the smart-home speakers built by Apple's rivals. Skype is integrated in the speaker to allow users make and receive crystal-clear, hands-free calls.

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