Echo soundings from Amazon

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Apple has Siri, Microsoft has Cortana and now Amazon has Alexa. The latest leading lady in voice assistive technology comes courtesy of Amazon’s release of the Echo, a hands-free device that serves as DJ, personal assistant and housekeeper, all wrapped up in one neat cylindrical package.

With dual downward-firing speakers and a 2.5 inch woofer that really gets the bass pumping, the device can source tunes from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn, whatever your personal preference. Thanks to its seven microphones, far-field voice recognition and noise-cancelling technology, it can also hear commands shouted from across the room, even while it’s playing the latest from Metallica. Want an Uber, a pizza or an update on the weather? Alexa can handle it. She can even read an audiobook, relay the latest news and tell you the score at the big game. Indeed, the device is said to get smarter and smarter every time you use it.

Around the house, it can control lights, thermostats and any other appliances that are operated via compatible smart home devices, including WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings and Insteon. The tech nerds over at CNET call the Echo “the closest thing we are likely to get to a Star Trek style computer at home.” Perhaps the goal is to boldly go where no one has gone before without actually having to boldly get out of bed at all.

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