Two years after appearing in homes in the US. Unlike other voice-controlled personal ‘assistants’, however, Echo is a physical object that’s 8.3cm wide and 23.5cm high. It’s always switched on, and it starts working whenever you say the ‘wake word’ Alexa.
Much like its digital rivals, Echo can search the web to answer your queries and set alarms and timers, but it can also add items to your shopping and to-do lists, and play music from its two downward-firing speakers. Echo doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, so you can use it to stream other services such as Spotify and iTunes from your phone or tablet. It worked well during our preview tests, producing clear 360-degree sound and quickly identifying our voice commands, even when playing music.