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Purveyor: Amazon.com Price: $179.99 Designation: A wireless speaker you can talk to and ask questions that it will answer. Review by Tom Benford Alexa is the voice behind Echo, Amazon's voice-activated, cloud-connected wireless speaker, who talks back to you and acts as kind of a personal assistant. For now she's some- what limited in her capabilities, though not without some nifty tricks up her sleeve. And she's improving with age. And improve “she” has – with the likes of Pandora compatibility, traffic reports, audiobook playback and even some smart-home offerings, none of which were available when the product first launched. Most users I’ve spoken with really like the convenience of having Alexa respond to their voice commands and do things like play music, read Audible books to them, give them a wea- ther forecast and set alarms for cooking and waking up. Alexa is also a source of entertainment (and perhaps a teaching tool) for children, though I can tell you that it can get very irritating to have multiple kids competing to tell Alexa what to do and asking her inane questions to see how she responds (in short, treating her like a toy). But the long and short of it is the Echo is a likeable device that seems to grow on people over time as it continues to improve.
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