Amazon launches $200 Echo voice-controlled connected speaker

Amazon's introduction of the Echo has not exactly been all-singing and all-dancing – but this $200 speaker is an interesting take on the now relatively common portable wireless speaker.

One of the integral features of the Amazon Echo is that it is voice-controlled; another is that it has a Siri-style virtual assistant that is "always ready, connected and fast". And it seems to be able to help with many things.

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For example, Amazon Echo promises to give you the latest news, weather and travel information if you ask for it. It also offers hands-free control for music services including Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio and TuneIn.

And with its Bluetooth capabilities, you will also be able to stream music from other services – such as Spotify, iTunes and Pandora – from your mobile. Meanwhile, cloud connectivity means it will add new features automatically.

The 9.25in x 3.27in Amazon Echo features dual downward-firing speakers that, it is claimed, offer 360-degree, multi-directional sound. There's a 2.5in woofer and a 2in tweeter, with a reflex port to boost the woofer's output.

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At the moment, you have to "request an invitation" from Amazon if you want to get your hands on an Echo. And while it comes with a $200 price tag (that's around £125), Prime members can get it for $99 – approximately £60.

Amazon says that, should your invitation be accepted, you will get an email "in the coming weeks" that will let you make a purchase. Little else has been made known about its availability, but we will be keeping our eyes peeled for more...

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Pete was content editor on What Hi-Fi?, overseeing production and publication of digital content. In creating and curating feature articles for web and print consumption, he provided digital and editorial expertise and support to help reposition What Hi-Fi? as a ‘digital-first’ title; reflecting the contemporary media trends. He is now a senior content strategist.