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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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