It’s been a long time coming, but Amazon’s innovative Echo speaker can now be purchased by anyone with an Amazon account. Echo, which was first announced in early November, has until today only been available to Amazon customers on an invite-only basis.
Echo is more than just a speaker; it’s a digital assistant for your home that responds to the sound of your voice to provide information on weather, sports scores, traffic, and even news. It’s audio capabilities are enhanced via the ability to tap into streaming music services like Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, and Pandora.
You can use your voice to reorder products that you’ve purchased in the past from Amazon and you can even command it to read back audiobooks to you as well while you lounge on the couch sipping on some ice cold lemonade in this immense heat. And if that isn’t enough, Echo is also compatible with Belkin WeMo and Philips Hue home automation devices so that you can control your light switches and attached appliances with your voice.
The lucky few that received (and accepted) Amazon’s invitation to try out the Echo were treated to a low, introductory price of $99 versus the original suggested MSRP of $199. Needless to say, given the high interest in the Echo, many resourceful folks took their $99 Echos and flipped them on eBay for $200 or more late last year. Even today, completed listing for those $99 Amazon Echos are still ranging from $160 to $200.
Amazon Echo is available for pre-order right now on Amazon’s website for $179.99, which is $20 less than the originally stated MSRP of $199. That’s still a far cry from the $99 price that invitees enjoyed, but it’s a fair price to pay for this innovative piece of hardware.