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[Deal Alert] The Amazon Echo is on sale for $140 ($40 off)

In light of the recent release of Google Home, it should come as a surprise to no one that former king (or queen) of connected speakers, the Amazon Echo, would start seeing more deals. Well, here it is. The Echo is $140 on Amazon today in both colors, which is a savings of $40.

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Alexa skills get full Amazon.com pages with direct links and better discoverability

Amazon's Alexa voice control system has taken off very well thanks to the Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Tap, as well as an open platform that lets developers implement any and all skills they want and let users access them. The problem, as we've pointed out before, is discoverability. With thousands of skills available, users had to dip into the Alexa mobile app (or the Alexa website), and either search for a keyword or browse by category. The app (and the site) were slow, you couldn't filter by 3 or 4 star rated skills only, searching for keywords in the skill's review was impossible, and most importantly, you had to be signed in to Alexa to know what skills were available.

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Amazon Rapids is a $2.99 subscription for short kid stories written as chat conversations

 

By now, you need a $100 monthly Amazon budget if you want to subscribe to all of the company's paid plans and features. But if you still have a couple of dollars left in your pocket by the end of the month and you have kids that would enjoy an innovative reading experience, then you might be interested in adding another subscription to your payments.

Amazon Rapids is a quick reading and storytelling experience built around instant messaging. Stories unfold like chats between the different characters, a modern way to entice young readers between the ages 7 and 12, and introduce them to reading in a medium that they're familiar with.

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Evo is a perfectly matching portable battery base for Amazon's Echo Dot

If you're still not sure about Google's new Home intelligent voice interface, then you may want to stick with something that works, and Amazon's Echo family of devices has proven that it does indeed work. One member of this family and a super cheap way to get into home assistants is the Echo Dot, a tiny puck-like gadget that you can spread around the house to listen to your commands and execute them. The second generation Dot was just released for $49.99, putting it almost in impulse-buy territory.

However, there's one lacking option with the Dot: portability. Sure, there's the larger Echo Tap which is battery-operated, but it requires you to tap the microphone each time you want to issue a command, negating the convenience factor of using Echo and Alexa's skills and commands.

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FABRIQ, an Amazon Alexa-enabled wireless speaker, goes on sale for just $50

Amazon's Alexa voice control assistant is undeniably slick, but the initially limited availability and high price of the flagship Echo device kept it out of the hands of a lot of people. New Alexa-powered gadgets like the Echo Dot and Amazon Tap have lowered the barrier to entry, but the real opportunity is in devices that license Alexa for use on other hardware. Such is the case with FABRIQ, an inexpensive wireless speaker that works with Alexa out of the box.

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Amazon could become an internet service provider in Europe

 

Amazon is seemingly determined to make Amazon Prime the best $99/year you can possibly spend. Prime already offers two-day free shipping on Amazon.com, ad-free streaming on Twitch, and an entire catalog of movies and TV shows through Prime Video. According to The Information, Amazon could be gearing up to bundle internet service with Prime.

Although details are scarce, The Information believes Amazon is considering bundling internet access with Prime streaming in Europe. Why not in Amazon's home country of America, you ask? Because in some European countries, broadband providers are required to offer wholesale access to their network to competing companies. This is similar in principle to US operators offering wholesale wireless to MVNOs.

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Alexa now supports scenes for Smart Home Skills

Amazon took to its developer blog today to announce that Alexa, its very successful smart home speaker, will be supporting scenes. These will allow users to speak simple commands to set predefined conditions on various connected devices. Prior to this announcement, interaction with them was limited to specific manufacturer apps.

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New Amazon Fire TV stick brings quad-core CPU, Alexa Remote, and AC Wi-Fi

Just two days ago, Roku announced their new lineup of media center devices, and today Amazon has made public their latest Fire TV Stick. If you are unfamiliar with Amazon's hardware offerings, the Fire TV Stick is their competitor to the Chromecast (even to the point of Amazon removing Chromecast listings from their store). But unlike the Chromecast, and similar to the recently-announced Roku Express, all applications run directly on the device. The Fire TV stick also has a sizable game library, which is certainly unique at the price point.

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Control4 smart home tech now works with Amazon Alexa voice control

The smart home revolution doesn't seem to be coming as quickly as some had hoped, but whenever it does break out, Amazon intends to be on the ground floor. To that end, the latest addition to Alexa's growing list of voice control connections is Control4, a semi-proprietary collection of home automation tools. The company announced a new Alexa skill that works with the Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and any other device that can connect to the voice service.

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Amazon announces cheaper and better $49.99 Echo Dot, will issue $10 Alexa Shopping credits to first-gen owners who order

Amazon's Echo has been a surprising hit product for smart home integration and its Alexa feature-rich Assistant has definitely grown since its introduction to become more capable and more interesting. Today, along with the announcement that the Echo is coming to the UK and Germany and is now available in white, Amazon has unveiled a new Echo Dot, the tiny puck version of the Echo.

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