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Amazon unveils new hardware device called Echo

Once again, Amazon is releasing a hardware product into the marketplace. While some of their devices, such as the Kindle e-readers and the Kindle Fire tablets have been successes, others, such as the Fire Phone, have been complete flops. That hasn't stopped the retailer from trying to come up with new products that tie into the Amazon infrastructure.

The latest example is a piece of hardware known only as "Echo." It's a tall, cylindrical device, that plugs into the wall, waiting for you to ask it to do something. The idea is that the device is always listening and ready to respond to any questions you may have, a sort of personal assistant if you will. The video that Amazon uses to market the device is a little odd, but tries to capture the fact that you can ask Echo a wide array of questions such as the date, how to spell words, and measurement conversions. The device can also be used to play music which, depending on how good the speakers turn out to be, could be a useful feature to have.

Overall, the video doesn't seem to give a compelling reason to use Echo over the smartphone you probably have with you all the time. Aside from playing music, we fail to see a use case that justifies the $200 price tag. Will this become another Fire Phone? Or will people embrace the technology because of its hands-free nature?

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