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Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo is a new smart speaker product from Amazon that combines voice recognition "intelligent assistant" capabilities with speaker functionality in a cylindrical speaker form factor.

Amazon Echo's intelligent assistant capabilities mimic those of Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana, and it features seven different microphones with beam-forming technology for picking up voice requests and commands from any direction and any location in a room.

How Amazon Echo Works and Its Speaker Functionality

Amazon Echo responds to voice control by returning information on products, music, news, weather, sports and more. The back-end engine for Amazon Echo runs on Amazon Web Services in the cloud, enabling it to learn an individual or family's preferences and expand its functionality over time.

As a portable speaker, Amazon Echo's dual downward-firing speakers play audio with hands-free voice control for Amazon Music, Amazon Prime Music, iHeartRadio and TuneIn. Echo also features Bluetooth capabilities that enable it to stream music services such as iTunes, Pandora and Spotify from smartphones, tablets and similar mobile devices.

Amazon Echo retails for $199 and is currently available for pre-order only by invitation. The product is expected to officially be released for purchased in late 2014 or early 2015.

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