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Amazon's not-so-secret touchscreen Echo could launch this week

It can apparently make internet-based phone calls as well.
Nicole Lee, @nicole
May 8, 2017
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Well, it looks like Amazon's touchscreen Echo is real after all. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company is expected to unveil the device as early as Tuesday (that's tomorrow). As last week's leaks indicate, it'll have a 7-inch display with a camera on top and a speaker underneath. It'll function much like the Echo does today, but with a few new features thrown in. One such function is apparently the ability to make internet-based telephone calls. As the WSJ reports, it could even function as an intercom in between Echo devices or between Echo owners.

The new touchscreen Echo would be the fifth such device from Amazon. There are three speaker-only models: the original Echo, the smaller Echo Dot and the portable Tap. The company also recently unveiled the Echo Look, a camera-speaker combo that gives you fashion tips (The Look is currently only available via invitation however). The Wall Street Journal reports that the touchscreen Echo is expected to retail at more than $200. By comparison, the Look is $200, the original is currently priced around $150, the Tap is $130 and the Dot is $50.

Even though Amazon is a pioneer in the smart speaker category, it's faced some competition lately. Google released its own rival called Google Home last year, while Microsoft has partnered with Harman Kardon to create a Cortana-powered speaker called Invoke. Plus, there are rumors that Apple plans to unveil its own Siri speaker at this year's WWDC.

Still, Amazon has a few years head start, with massive support from an array of third-party services and applications. Combined with continued investment in Alexa and in AI, Amazon is poised to be the leader of the pack for the foreseeable future. Even if this latest touchscreen Echo looks like a tiny mall kiosk.

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