The Amazon Echo is a cloud connected, always-on black tube that sits somewhere in the house and listens for the wake word "Alexa." When someone says that wake word, it will respond with information about news, weather, sports, and more.
Amazon Echo can be told to play music from your Amazon Music Library, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio. It can deliver information from local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN. The Echo can also be told to set alarms, and add reminders and to-do lists. It can answer basic questions with information from Wikipedia as well. And since it's connected to the cloud, it will continually get smarter as Amazon adds more capabilities to it.
Inside the cylinder is a 7 microphone array, using what Amazon calls "Far Field technology" so it can hear you from anywhere in the room -- even when music is playing. It also has speakers, including a 2.5 inch woofer, 2.0 inch tweeter, and a Reflex port that enhances the woofer's output. There's an LED ring around the top of the device, along with an action button and a microphone off button.
Amazon has a free companion app for Echo on Fire OS, Android, and on browsers from the desktop and iOS. The app guides you through the setup process, and lets you manage alarms, music, shopping lists, and more. The Amazon Echo can also be used like a Bluetooth speaker. It can be paired to your phone or tablet to play music from Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora.
Amazon Echo costs $199, and is available for $150 for Amazon Prime members at Amazon.com/echo..