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: