Amazon’s Answer to Apple's Siri Is Now Available to All Consumers

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Amazon (AMZN) today made its voice-activated personal assistant device Echo available to the general public.

Echo was first announced in November, but until now it has been available on an invite-only basis. Now, all U.S. consumers can go to Amazon.com and order their own Echo, which resembles a portable speaker, for $179.99. The devices will begin shipping on July 14.

Similar to Apple's (AAPL) Siri, Microsoft's (MSFT) Cortana, and Google (GOOG)  (GOOGL) Now, Echo's persona Alexa listens to consumers' requests and acts as a personal assistant. But instead of living as software within a smartphone, Alexa lives in a separate Wi-Fi-enabled device that can sit on a dining room table.  

Echo will play music, tell you the weather, and let you re-order Prime-eligible products. It will also tie into connected home networks such as Belkin WeMo and Philips  (PHG) Hue to turn on the light or fan.

"The customer response to Amazon Echo has been incredibly positive, and we've been working hard to build more as quickly as possible," said Greg Hart, Vice President of Amazon Echo. "We're excited to get Echo into the hands of even more customers and continue to invent new features and experiences."

Reviews for Echo went live on Amazon on Friday, and here's what those who have already been able to try it out are saying:

"I received my Echo back in February and have used it daily since then. She makes my life so much easier at times."

"Echo is an almost good - with the potential to be great - adaptive device. For now, it's your basic voice activated personal assistant - like the lady in the iPhone but in a tube."

"When it works it's awesome. If you are expecting for Alexa to make your life easier in ANY way, don't waste your time!"

"There are fairly regular patches of inability to cope with simple inquiries and that frustrating feeling you're talking to a fixed menu of response capability."

"I really wanted to like this, but it's just not quite smart enough yet."

"Certainly, it is in its infancy, and has a long way to go. Already, though, I find it is part of my daily life."

"This is a solid product with virtually unlimited capabilities. My family and friends have enjoyed the Amazon Echo everyday since I bought it."

"Not sure I would pay $200 for it but $99 is the right price."

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