In a previous column I mentioned the Amazon Echo ($179 on Amazon.com) as a useful device for listening to music and podcasts. But, after using the Echo for the past month and hearing others talk about it at CES, I've come to the conclusion that it's far more than that. I bought the Echo as a music player because I was impressed at how easy it is to use your voice to play songs from your own music library that you've uploaded to Amazon Music along with the million or so songs on Amazon Prime Music, your Pandora playlists and the podcasts, music and online radio stations on TuneIn and iHeartRadio. You address the Echo as "Alexa," Amazon's persona that's equivalent to Siri or the OK Google voice commands for Android devices. Amazon also gives you the option to address Echo as "Amazon," but I prefer calling her Alexa.
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You know when you're watching a movie or TV show set in the future and the world of tomorrow features video displays for phone calls in kitchens and living rooms? Well, the future is now with the Echo Show and it's on sale for $179.99 on Amazon. That's a $50 savings and the lowest price the online retailer has ever offered for this item. SEE ALSO: Amazon's Echo Auto is finally here Normally retailing for $229.99, the all-new Echo Show is the second generation of Amazon's best-selling smart video display. It's more than just your average smart display because it's powered with the Alexa voice assistant.
An Amazon customer got a grim message last year from Alexa, the virtual assistant in the company's smart speaker device: "Kill your foster parents." The user who heard the message from his Echo device wrote a harsh review on Amazon's website, Reuters reported - calling Alexa's utterance "a whole new level of creepy". An investigation found the bot had quoted from the social media site Reddit, known for harsh and sometimes abusive messages, people familiar with the investigation told Reuters. The odd command is one of many hiccups that have happened as Amazon tries to train its machine to act something like a human, engaging in casual conversations in response to its owner's questions or comments. The research is helping Alexa mimic human banter and talk about almost anything she finds on the internet.
If you've been contemplating purchasing one of Amazon's voice-enabled Echo smart speakers, now is a particularly good time to pull the trigger. Just in time for Amazon's Prime Day blowout sale, which kicks off at 9 p.m. ET on July 10, the company has slashed the prices of its Echo devices. The standard model will cost $89.99 Amazon's portable Tap speaker will be selling for $79.90, a $50 markdown. Amazon Echo Show with an Arlo security camera, Amazon will chop $75 off the total price.