Amazon's Hip New Portable Speaker, with a Tech Twist - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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post #1 of 6 Old 11-19-14, 12:58 PM Thread Starter
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Amazon's Hip New Portable Speaker, with a Tech Twist

Amazon recently popped a surprise with the announcement of a new Wi-Fi device that fills your portable audio needs while bumping Apple’s mobile assistant “Siri” out of the picture. Meet Echo, a cylindrical portable speaker smart device. While Sonos, Apple AirPlay, and other portable audio options have their place in home deployment, what they can’t do is tell you if it will rain tomorrow. Nor can they tell you if your favorite team won their big game. Apparently Echo can, along with performing multiple other daily living tasks, making it an enticing option for a portable audio solution...and a nifty holiday gift idea.



Topside view of Amazon's sleek new smart speaker, Echo.


Apple’s introduction of Siri brought the power of a personal assistant to the masses. When she works, it’s a fantastic experience and cleverly simple. But much like grabbing and clicking with a mouse, Siri still requires that a user is in contact with a smartphone or tablet. What if, instead, you could simply ask a question or set a reminder while lazily laying on your couch? That’s where Amazon says Echo accelerates to the front of the pack. Using a far-field microphone system with across-the-room range, merely mentioning the name “Alexa” will bring Echo to life.

Amazon has designed the entire product around your voice. Underneath the unit is a ring of seven microphones designed to hear requests from 360-degrees, even while Echo is playing music. Amazon says it’s designed to adapt to a user’s talking style and vocabulary. Also, its cloud-based brain allows Echo’s functionality to be remotely managed and improved. Perhaps the days of “Hal” from 2001: A Space Odyssey aren’t too far fetched.

The entire unit is compactly fitted inside of a cylinder that stands 9.25-inches tall and 3.27-inches wide. The stacked speaker array (from the the bottom up) consists of a 2-inch tweeter, a 2.5-inch woofer, and a curved bass reflex port. The sound is emitted through a perforated exterior shell. Echo also has a physical “volume ring” on the top of the unit, along with a “Microphone Off” and “Action” button.




Admittedly, the speaker specs aren’t enticing. But, the unit is capably equipped with access to Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. In addition, it has an onboard Bluetooth capability to make streaming music libraries (or, music from other services)from a phone or tablet possible.

Smartly, Amazon hasn’t tied Echo to one particular device. The company says that it can connect to applications on Fire OS, Android, and iOS devices, along with various desktop browsers. This makes tasks like managing music, setting alarms, or creating shopping lists highly accessible to just about anyone with a smart device or computer.

Perhaps Echo is lacking in audio oomph, but its on-paper functionality could potentially make this device’s feature-set far more valuable than detailed sound.

Echo retails for $199 from Amazon, with a select promotion price of $99 for a segment of Amazon’s Prime Membership base.


Image Credit: Amazon.com
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post #2 of 6 Old 11-19-14, 04:07 PM
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Re: Amazon's Hip New Portable Speaker, with a Tech Twist

Definitely a cool device from Amazon in my opinion. Though I'm still not convinced I'm comfortable with these assistants that are "always listening" and to the web. I know, I know, I have one sitting in my pocket all day. *puts on tin foil hat*

And could their promo video with the family be any more cheesy?
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post #3 of 6 Old 11-19-14, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Amazon's Hip New Portable Speaker, with a Tech Twist

It's a little odd, for sure. But if it truly works, it could be quite cool.

And you're right...that vid...
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post #4 of 6 Old 12-04-14, 02:11 PM
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Re: Amazon's Hip New Portable Speaker, with a Tech Twist

Has anyone heard as to when this thing is expected to be out?
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post #5 of 6 Old 12-04-14, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Amazon's Hip New Portable Speaker, with a Tech Twist

No word on an exact date...I would expect it will be released in the coming week (the sign-up response still reads "Thank you for your request. If selected, you will receive an e-mail with an invitation to purchase in the coming weeks."). It has definitely been delayed longer than one would have originally assumed.
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post #6 of 6 Old 01-23-15, 04:17 AM
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Re: Amazon's Hip New Portable Speaker, with a Tech Twist

It's a little odd, for sure. But if it truly works, it could be quite cool.
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