Amazon Launches $199 Voice-Recognition Device Called Echo

(Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

It’s hard to keep a secret in the tech world these days, but Amazon managed to pull it off, announcing a surprise voice-recognition device called Echo on Thursday.

The $199 device — $99 for a limited time for Prime members — is “always ready, connected and fast,” according to the company.

Echo is hands-free and controlled by your voice. The black, cylindrical device can provide information, music, news, weather and more, and can hear you from across the room.

Interestingly, Echo is by invitation only. Customers who submit requests online will be notified via email if they’re selected, with an invitation to purchase Echo in the coming weeks.

Amazon said Echo is connected to the cloud, so it’s “always getting smarter.”

The Seattle e-commerce juggernaut has launched a number of hardware devices this year, including the Amazon Fire Phone.

The phone in particular has been a major flop with consumers. Last month, Amazon slashed the price of the phone from $199 to as low as 99 cents.