The Amazon Echo is one of the more powerful voice-controlled devices on the market. Amazon’s Echo is a speaker that comes with a handful of extra features. Simply saying, “Alexa,” aloud will initiate the assistant in Echo (Alexa) who will process every word you say. In this regard, the Echo’s functionality is similar to saying, “Hey Siri” or “OK Google” to a plugged in smartphone. After giving the command, Alexa proceeds to complete the request.

Users describe talking to Alexa as more natural and organic. It doesn’t seem as extreme as shouting at a phone in your pocket. Having an Echo in your home feels more like having a personal assistant. The downside is minimized portability – especially since Alexa must be plugged in.

The Echo is small. It’s a matte cylinder body that measures approximately 9 inches tall and 4 inches across. It’s perfectly sized to be placed on a shelf or desk in your home. The lower half of Echo is covered in perforations where the speaker is. The Amazon logo is located towards the bottom. On the top, you’ll find two buttons. One turns the microphone off and the other is a multipurpose button. Translucent plastic surrounds the rim containing a light that illuminates in the direction it is speaking in based on where your voice was coming from.

Alexa is able to perform a wide range of functions. She can add items to your Amazon shopping cart, add notes to Evernote, control SmartHome devices, and answer questions by drawing information from Wikipedia and other sources. While her functionality is still in its early stages and appears more limited than Siri, we have no doubt Amazon will only work to improve her abilities. Furthermore, it’s entirely possible that Apple or Google may release similar devices to compete.

Prime members can pick up Alexa for $179.00. She will cost $199.00 for everyone else.

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