Amazon might release a palm-sized version of its Echo speaker

Amazon will release a portable version of its Echo desktop assistant within weeks, aiming to solidify its position in the growing connected-device space. The new model, codenamed ‘Fox,’ is similar in size to a beer can, sources have told the Wall Street Journal.

Although the WSJ’s sources did not disclose specific pricing, Fox is expected to cost less than the $180 Echo. It will also be battery-powered and respond to commands by push-button, similar to how Siri works on iOS devices. Otherwise it appears Fox retains many of Echo’s features, just in a smaller form factor.

That is a smart plan, considering the overwhelmingly positive reviews the Echo has received. In our own evaluation, we described it as the best voice-controlled product in its price range, and that users would be tempted to buy more than one so as to set them up in different rooms.

Despite the Echo’s success, a lot of questions remain surrounding Fox. For example, how does it connect? A good guess would be some kind of tethering to a smartphone or tablet with a data connection via Bluetooth. Echo operates via Wi-Fi, but with the Fox being portable, Wi-Fi connectivity is useless outside of your home network or a hotspot.

Another question is its usefulness. Echo gets high marks for its capabilities as a connected-home hub: Fox doesn’t seem like it's intended for such a use case. And with Siri, Cortana, and Google Now, is there even room for yet another voice-controlled assistant in portable form? I’d argue these three are doing a fine job on their own.

Why this matters: News of a second Echo model suggests Amazon has found a substantial market for its high-tech speaker. Considering Beats Pill+ sets you back $230, a miniature Amazon Echo for a fraction of that price sounds attractive.

IDG Insider


« Intel: Integrated chip graphics catching up with graphics cards


Marxent wants to be businesses' content management system for the VR age »
IDG News Service

The IDG News Service is the world's leading daily source of global IT news, commentary and editorial resources. The News Service distributes content to IDG's more than 300 IT publications in more than 60 countries.

  • Mail


Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?