Remember Echo? The always-on, voice-controlled home hub that Amazon launched to great excitement seven months ago — and that Amazon would only allow you to buy if you were selected from interested Prime members?
Today the company said it would make Echo a readily available product for anyone who wants to buy one, in the US at least. What that implies about Echo’s sales numbers is unclear, but Amazon has seemingly had a hard time keeping up with its wait list since it launched last November. Now, Echo is readily available for $180 on Amazon (that's just under £115 on a straight conversion, but it is unknown when exactly the Echo might come to UK, let alone at what price).
That means Amazon’s review page is up, too, which interesting. Out of 18,274 reviews, Echo gets very respectable 4.5 stars. Let’s put aside the question of what hand Amazon has in controlling reviews of its own products and take a look.
The vast majority of reviews are positive. Most negative reviews, of which there are only 1,675, level the criticism that Echo isn’t as futuristic as they expected:
Okay. Not sci-fi hardware.
It works best as a bedside alarm clock. I don’t use it much for anything else.....”Alexa, set an alarm for 6:00am.” “Alexa, snooze.” It’s only failed me once. Unfortunately, I missed a flight that morning, but it was probably my fault since I was drunk and hung over from the night before and probably said, “Alexa, STOP!” in my sleep.
For now, and until connected home is REALLY up and running, the Echo is pretty much the same as any other voice-controlled personal assistant.
Amazon says it’ll start shipping on July 14 to US customers. As mentioned previously, UK release is our old friend 'TBA', but you could always get one imported if you were particularly keen, there's always our old guide on getting items shipped from the US.