Echo goes on public sale: order yours now!

Echo goes on public sale: order yours now!

I expect this could sell out, so I’m going to post this and then update it.

Right in line with what I’ve expected, the

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is now available for general pre-order! Update shortly, but if you want one as soon as possible, I’d pre-order right now.

Update: Oh, I’ve had somebody ask me what the Echo is. 🙂 It’s Amazon’s “ambient computing” device. The shorthand for most people is that it is “Siri for your house”, but it’s different from that. It is a Bluetooth speaker, but you can talk to it, and it generally understands you and can do some things you ask. It can answer questions, it can put things on a shopping list, it can read you events from your Google calendar, it can give you the news…many things.

Here are my

post on the Amazon Echo in ILMK (I Love My Kindle)

Update: okay, here is the

press release

Some things that stand out to me about this general public launch:

  • The price is $179.99, lower than the expected $199…unless you want the voice remote, which was included for people like me who were Prime members and got it early by invitation for $99. I do use the remote, in part because when the Echo is at top volume playing music, it’s hard for it to hear me. Using the remote (which has voice input) makes it work just fine. The remote (Voice Remote for Amazon Echo ((at AmazonSmile*)) is $29.99, making the price actually higher than predicted for what we got ($209.98  versus $199.00), but lower for the base device. You don’t need the remote, but it’s nice to have. My guess is that there will be a lot of those sold as gifts. Note that each Echo only works with one remote at a time
  • The “in stock” date is July 14th…but again, my guess is that will only be true for the very earliest orders. We waited weeks (or more…months in my case) to get it on the invitation only pre-release orders. I’m guessing that they can’t make them very quickly
  • No discount for Prime members
  • No new features announced with the release, although they do say, “…developers have been using a private beta of a free SDK to build new capabilities and skills for Alexa, which will start rolling out later this year.” An SDK is a “software development kit”. This should lead to some very interesting third party applications, perhaps even for major companies
  • I wasn’t quoted in the press release (never have been…I know some readers guess I have a very close relationship with Amazon, but outside of sending me press releases and some connections I have as a Kindle Forum Pro, I don’t really have a special relationship. Despite ILMK being one of the most popular blogs of any kind in the USA Kindle store for more than five years, I don’t get any special treatment. 🙂 That’s fine with me, by the way…it’s up to them. I’ve always sort of hoped that might send me some scoop kind of information or, yes, quote me, but I’m okay that they haven’t), but my review was considered one of the three most useful, so it appears on the product page right now. That probably won’t last: there are 18,274 reviews as I write this (with a 4.5 out 5 star rating), and those numbers will jump up. Still, I’m always happy when my writing helps people, and that appears to be the case
  • Will we get Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) (and Fire TV Stick ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)) support by July 14th? Still a possibility…
  • No limit shown as to how many you can buy
  • It appears to only be available to customers in the USA at this point. I would expect it to be available in other countries later this year (Canada, for sure). Part of that, I think, has to do with getting approval for it as an electronic device that receives/broadcasts. I always say that Amazon would happily sell products to the moon, if they could…they want to sell their products everywhere! However, they have to do it legally and in a way that makes sense. I have no doubt that I’ll see people from other countries saying they are being “discriminated against” or “not getting love” in the Kindle forums 😉

I have been saying that I think the Echo will be one of the biggest tech stories of the year…well, it has just really become a public story.

What do you think? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on his post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :)  This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


18 Responses to “Echo goes on public sale: order yours now!”

  1. Anita Says:

    Hi, thanks for the article! I’m certainly interested in this device. It sounds like it does a great job understanding voice commands. I wonder how well it handles accents as I’ve got a pretty thick english accent 🙂

    Engadget has some pretty good reviews about the Echo I was disapointed that there isn’t a discount for Prime members. I guess we had to get in early like you.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      It should be okay with an accent, because it has a voice training option. I haven’t tested it with someone else with other accents or by trying different accents myself, and I am pretty good at that. 🙂 I have seen good reviews just about everywhere. I suspect the ones that we see that aren’t as good are often from techies who love their smartphones and always have them on them even when they are at home.

  2. Tania Marshall Says:

    I just got my second one! I got my 1st one in November. I almost didn’t take Amazon up on the invite, then figured $99 was not too much for a toy. It’s become so much a part of my life, I really missed having one upstairs. Knowing and relying on its features, the $179 price tag didn’t stop me. The first one is in my mom cave, the 2nd one will go on my nightstand. I can see myself waking up to the Echo’s alarm, checking my schedule, then listen to the day’s news while I’m getting up and making the bed. The estimated delivery date is July 17th. I can’t wait.

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Well, I learned one thing by going to the remote product page: you can have multiple remotes, but only one can be connected to Alexa at any time (:boo).

    I see where one of your readers has gotten a second one — I wonder how that’s going to work without confusion — Alexa has “issues” (:grin) when there are multiple Bluetooth devices around?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Many people have multiple Echoes, including a relative of mine. The only confusion that I’ve heard as a concern so far is multiple Echoes hearing the same verbal request (they hear quite well). My relative set them to the two different wake words we currently have (“Alexa” and “Amazon”), which helped.

      I think I mentioned the one remote per Echo…might have been on the Kindle forums. That’s similar to the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV stick…I have multiple remotes and two of those, and I’d love to be able to carry the same remote to different rooms for use on the two devices (not the same issue you mentioned), but it’s a one to one relationship at this point.

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        I just got an email from Amazon offering to sell me a second Echo (:grin).

        I’m guessing that each Echo has to be connected to a different computer? And how are shopping and to-do lists going to work? Separate lists for each Echo (not very useful that)? And how does it work with the Echo app? AFAIK that app is just — so just one echo app? So can one Echo app consolidate info from multiple echos?

        I have some questions into the Amazon Echo feedback channel.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        Yes, I got that, too…meant to mention it in the round-up: maybe I’ll update. Most interesting to me was there was a two person limit on Echoes, which I hadn’t see on the product page.

        First, the Echo app is an app, not just a site. It’s one of the most useful things, both because of the additional information in it, and because you can then carry your shopping list and to do list with you. This it in the Amazon Appstore, where I got it long before I got the device:

        Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile)

        Here it is for iOS:

        Multiple Echoes on the same account works smoothly. You can even use the “Household” feature to listen to music from different Amazon accounts on a single Echo.

        Here is information on the

        Household Profiles (at AmazonSmile)

        Someone I know with physical challenges has more than one…not a problem except, as I’ve mentioned, them hearing the same verbal command.

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        I don’t tend to use the app — as I mostly interact with Alexa thru my laptop. I don’t carry my Fire HDX to the supermarket (maybe I should? :grin). I use Windows Phone for which there is no app, and the web version of the app is very limited as to which browsers it supports (mainly Chrome, IE, Firefox, & Safari on non-mobile devices — AFAIK there is no mobile browser support for the echo — I’ve tried several — so no way to get the app on my windows phone.

        However, I have been a bit hazy as to how long I’ve had my echo — going to the app store informed me that I got the Echo app on Nov 22, 2014 — so now I know (:grin)

        I’ll ask for mobile browser support — right now I take a printout of my shopping list to the supermarket. Both of the lists need some kind of categorization/sublist support — more grist for feedback (:grin)

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        My KFHDX is my on-the-road reading device, so it’s hard for me to imagine going to the supermarket without it. The app on my Fire Phone works well, bu no surprise there. 😉

  4. Tom Semple Says:

    You can use a computer browser or the Amazon Echo mobile app (for iOS, Android, Fire) as well. These do not take voice commands but do let you adjust volume, control playback, and walk through menus to find things to play. A lot of the time it is less frustrating than trying to get the Echo to understand what you want it to do.

    I hope they bring some of the Echo’s ‘personal assistant’ functions to the Fire Phone. Seems to me likely that Echo was a spinoff of Fire Phone’s PA function, but the latter now lags behind Siri and Android and Cortana PAs and could use an upgrade..

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Yes, that’s a good point!

      My Fire Phone just updated today…and what updated was voice input. 🙂 Haven’t had a chance to test it.

      • Tom Semple Says:

        What version is yours running now? Mine (unlocked) is on 4.6.1 (461013820).

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        My Fire Phone is Fire OS 4.6.1 (461013320)

        It actually tells me it was last updated May 4th…so the communication to me by the device seems confusing.

        For other readers (in case there are any others with a Fire Phone) :), to check your version:

        Home – swipe down from the top – Settings – Phone – Device – Install system updates

  5. Tania Marshall Says:

    I asked the Echo folks about using a second Echo. I was concerned if I asked the upstairs one to do something. the downstairs one would do it too. My husband would not be amused.

    Here is their reply:
    “You wont really have any problems having a 2nd Echo on your account. In fact, our developers have said that there can be up to 12 Echoes on an account at once (I’m not sure why someone would want 12, but why not?)

    The units do act independently of one another so the request will only work on the Echo you request the action from. That being said, the only issue you will have is with Prime music. Currently Prime music will only allow one active stream at a time. This means if someone is streaming from the downstairs Echo and you attempt to access Prime music from the upstairs Echo, the Echo will give you a warning saying that there is already a live stream of Prime and ask if you would like to cancel.

    Other than that there will be no problems using the Echo.”

    The thing with Prime Music is the way it is now. I’ve used my Fire as a quick way to get music upstairs for a bit, then when I go downstairs to hear something, Alexa will ask me if I want to disconnect from the other source.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tania!

      I really appreciate you sharing that!

      My guess is that many homes may end with multiple Echoes. I had already heard that was working well for some people. I wasn’t aware of that offer to transfer the stream…although, if it’s like Ghostbusters, you should never cross the streams. That would be bad. 😉

      In terms of 12, that’s 12 per account, not per house. Five in one house? Sure, I could see that…bedrooms, kitchen, garage. Could there be two households on the same account. Absolutely! We’ve had three…

  6. Edward Boyhan Says:

    So I have a few questions that are slightly off topic, but may be of general interest — so I’ll post them here rather than in a private email (this is probably the best place for these).

    As you know I have been thinking about getting a second echo. For other reasons, I’ve also been thinking of getting a second Amazon account to separate my business/technical activities from my personal/entertainment/household stuff.

    So I’ve been thinking of getting my second echo on this separate account. My current Echo is in my bedroom, and its remote is in the kitchen. Bedroom, kitchen, living room are all on the first floor, and the layout is open plan so the one echo seems able to hear pretty well from those 3 locations.

    I plan to put the second echo upstairs where I have my office, a guest bedroom, and a “loft” full of computers & communications racks.

    1. The first question I think I know the answer which is that the remote communicates with the Echo over Bluetooth, and that distance is therefore limited to 20-30 feet?

    2. All of the discussions here talk about multiple echos on a single account. Can you think of any issues with having the second echo on the second account (the two account would be “joined” on a single household profile)??

    3. I want to put all my technical/professional books under the 2nd account. Is there anyway to transfer books already bought under account 1 to account 2?

    4. My pattern has been at purchase to deliver mass market books to my PW2, and the technical books (as PDFs) to my KF HDX8.9. As I read the mass market books, I move them from a “ToBeRead” collection to an “Already Read”, but the books tend to stay on the kindle. I have noticed that as the number of resident titles in a cloud collection gets large (several hundred titles), performance of collection maintenance functions slows to a crawl, and can lead to reboots. I have been segmenting the “Already Read” collection into pieces: “AR1”, “AR2, etc with no more than 75 in a collection, and performance has been much better. However, it occurs to me that it would be better to remove books from the device, and the various “AR” collections. I can find a way to remove a single book from a device, but no way to bulk remove many titles. Do you know of any way to remove a lot of books from a device quickly?

    5. What happens when you remove a cloud collection from a device? Is it just the collection name that is removed, or are its contents removed too?

    6. With two echos on two different accounts will I have the music streaming issues discussed above or not?

    7. Can music & videos be shared across accounts in a household profile?

    8. What’s the difference between a household profile and a family library? Are they the same?

    9. Cloud collections belong to an account? Can cloud collections (names or contents) be shared across accounts?

    I just have read over the Amazon help for profiles, and the Echo — there sure is a lot more of it than when I first got my echo. Any help you can give me will be much appreciated 😀

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Sorry to take longer getting back to you on this one. I have to keep on track to keep up, and one is going to take a longer time to do like this, it’s harder to carve out contiguous time for it (as opposed to a short time to give a short answer).

      Okay, let’s take a look:

      1. Yes, the Voice Remote for Amazon Echo works via Bluetooth. I don’t know what the range limit is, but it seems quite good. I checked the reviews for the device for the word “range”, and there wasn’t a complaint about it there.

      2. Rather than having two accounts use the same Echo, you want two accounts each with its own Echo? The only issue I would see is them possibly both hearing the wake word, and being confused by commands for that reason. If you had two Echoes right next to each other, and said, “Alexa,” they would both wake up and start listening. You could have one set to “Alexa” and one set to “Amazon”.

      3. You purchased a non-transferable license. You have the family library option and lending (which is only available on some titles), but you can’t actually shift the license from one account to another.

      4. Without Whispercast or a Kindle 1, removal of books from a device is one book at a time. I’ll remind you that I only usually keep about ten Kindle store books on a device at a time (with the notable exception of our Guest Kindle, which has more). It seems inevitable to me that more books on a device degrades performance (there are simply more things for the device to process when it does certainly things, like sorting or searching)

      5. Removing a Collection does not remove the items in that Collection

      6. I’m not sure which streaming issues you are referencing…maybe it is in someone else’s comment? The limitations about devices streaming from Prime are per account…a limitation in streaming on account would not affect another account

      7. Prime streaming video can be shared in an Amazon Household…music is unaffected.

      8. I think they are, in practice, the same. I see Amazon using both Household and Library on the same help pages…I think one term might have been used first. The Family Library sees to be specifically a Kindle thing

      9. Cloud Collections belong to the account, yes. Do they appear in shared books in the Family Library? I’m not sure about that…maybe one of my readers can inform us both

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