Those crazy cats at Amazon are at it again! Credible rumors have surfaced claiming that Amazon has plans to release a new version of the Echo including a 7″ touch screen as early as the first quarter of 2017.
This is a confusing collision of a class leading voice assistant getting surgically attached to a budget friendly tablet, human centipede style, simply because some people don’t get it. The whole idea of the always listening voice assistant with the ability to hear you when you’re nowhere near it is that you don’t have to be anywhere near it to use it. The whole idea of a touch screen is that you have to be able to touch it to use it. So, much like Sesame Street, this device will have both near and far covered.
The rumor claims that enough people want an Echo with a touch screen in their kitchen that this product needs to exist. I get it. There have been plenty of times that I’ve been standing in my kitchen and wanted a handy screen that I could control with my voice…which is why my family laptop with Cortana resides in my kitchen.
Further confusing the issue is that most of the Kindle Fire lineup got Alexa support earlier this year. Which means you basically already have this available to you, just with crappy speakers and the need to tap a pesky button to get Alexa to listen to you. Again, I get it. It’s not the same thing, but if an existing product can get you 80% of what you’re looking for, why bother?
Obviously this will be more expensive than the existing Echo, and definitely more expensive than the Fire HD 8 (which was a great buy on Black Friday/Cyber Monday by the way), so expect a price tag well north of $200.
The rumor mill further goes on to say that this will have an upgraded speaker from the existing Echo. I can get on board with this for two reasons; 1- the existing Echo speaker could use an upgrade, and 2- the existing Echo’s base is too narrow to support a tablet and take the force of all that finger jabbing without falling over, so there will have to be more room for a bigger speaker.
Unlike some of its competitors, Amazon tends to leak news shortly before it delivers a real product. As we’ve seen with devices like the Fire Phone, they’re not afraid to throw a bunch of shit at the wall and see what sticks. The Echo itself was a moonshot and it paid off big time. If this gets released and takes off, I’ll look silly, but if it’s a flop, I hope Amazon will quit playing Froedrick Frankensteen and stick to what works.