New Amazon Echo Device Promises to Blow Competition Away (AMZN)

To keep ahead of its rivals in the smart home assistant front, which is getting fiercer by the minute, equipping the Echo with its own screen will take its capabilities to a whole new level.

Amazon Echo Show

Credit Amazon.com

Since last year, hints that the new Echo might have a screen were already written about by publications like the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, with the device allegedly being code-named ‘Knight’.

Last Friday, news about this rumored upgrade resurfaced, and this time, it’s not just words — there’s an actual image to make the information more solid. Thanks to AFTVnews, we now have our first glimpse of what the upgraded Echo with a built-in screen might look like.

According to the publication, the screen is not just a regular screen, but a touchscreen that measures about 7 inches. They posted a slightly blurred image of the device, after which, Venturebeat’s Evan Blass tweeted a much clearer image, showing what looks like a camera above, and speakers at the bottom which will reportedly have a better sound output, both in terms of quality and volume. The screen is also slightly angled facing upwards so it will remain visible even when you’re looking down at it, like when you’re standing or if it’s placed on a countertop.

AFTVnews speculates that the device, which is expected to run Amazon’s FireOS, will be priced higher than the standard Echo, possibly within the $200 – $300 range, and will possibly be released within a month.

Initially exclusive to Prime subscribers, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) made the Echo available to all U.S. customers in June 2015. Just recently, it was launched in the U.K., and instead of only being available in its standard black version, customers now have a choice between a black or white Echo.

Echo is powered by Amazon’s AI assistant — Alexa. To wake Alexa up, users simply have to say “Alexa…”, followed with a voice command to tell it what to do, or a question that you want it to answer. To ensure that it is able to pick up your commands or questions from anywhere in the room, Echo has seven built-in microphones and Bluetooth support.

As an AI application, Alexa learns as it goes along, recognizing your vocabulary, speech patterns and preferences. Which means that over time, Alexa gets better at its job of being your smart home assistant, especially with new abilities regularly being added to its current pool of know-hows.

With the latest upgrade (assuming the rumor materializes, of course), Echo is expected to jump ahead of its competition with the potential for more expansive capabilities including video calling, online shopping and helping you choose your OOTD (outfit of the day).

Update:

The rumor did indeed materialize. On Tuesday the e-commerce giant unveiled Echo Show with its big new upgrade: a seven-inch display that can play videos. Amazon said it is taking pre-orders for the device now for $229.99 with a ship date of June 28.

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