The utter failure of the Fire Phone apparently hasn’t curtailed Amazon’s huge ambitions in hardware. The company today unveiled Amazon Echo, a slightly quixotic, 9-inch tall speaker that plays music, fields voice commands and Internet queries, responds in a pleasant conversational voice, and of course (since this is Amazon, after all) will obey instructions to put various products into your Amazon.com shopping cart.
This Amazon demo video of a family interacting with Echo tells you everything you need to know about the device. (Fair warning: It’ll also make your family seem pretty dysfunctional by comparison.) Like Google’s service Google Now, the device is persistently listening and can be activated by uttering the name “Alexa.”