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Amazon’s Echo No Longer Plays Hard To Get

Amazon’s $179 Echo smart speaker will reverberate in stores throughout the U.S. in time for the holidays as distribution opens up to more than 3,000 brick-and-mortar outlets, including Home Depot, Staples, Sears and Brookstone.

Other retailers that will carry the device include RadioShack, Fred Meyer, P.C. Richard & Son, ABT, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, hhgregg and RC Willey.

The e-tailer released the voice-controlled device into general distribution in June through its website, having launched an invitation-only trial in 2014. In August, Staples began selling it through its website.

The Echo is a 9.25-inch-tall cylindrical speaker with omnidirectional audio output, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Amazon’s Alexa Cloud-based voice service and voice recognition. Consumers use natural-language voice commands to select songs to play from multiple music-streaming services, control compatible smart-home products, find local businesses via Yelp, and get spoken news, weather, sports and traffic updates. Alexa also uses its voice to answer spoken questions, using Wikipedia as its source.

Compatible home-automation products include Philips Hue lights as well as devices from Samsung SmartThings, WeMo, Insteon and Wink.

Users also access the Cloud-based Google Calendars service and reorder Prime-eligible products.

Seven omnidirectional microphones can pick up voice commands from across a room.