Not so long ago we expressed the idea that one of the killer features of Cortana-powered speakers like the Harman Kardon Invoke was Skype voice calling.
It seems even before the release of that device towards the end of this year Amazon has already leapfrogged them.
According to credible reports from the Wall Street Journal, Amazon’s new Echo speaker with screen and camera, code-named Knight, will offer video calling, taking the device, according to the WSJ, “one step ahead of rivals.”
The device, which is already being challenged by the likes of Google and a rumoured Apple smart speaker, will also attack rivals with a much lower that expected price point of $200, and hit the market as soon as next month.
Besides using the screen for video calling, the 7-inch touch screen will also deliver visual answers to spoken questions, making it easier for users to complete purchases for example with confidence.
By setting the device up as the new top of the range, and the same price as the older, screen-less Amazon Echo, it will be presented as great value for money, and will likely do much better than if it sold at the $300 price point. The older Echo is now on sale for $150.
The Wall Street Journal expects the device to be formally announced as early as next week Tuesday, which would explain the recently leaked images above.
Amazon has said in their recent investors call that they are “doubling down” on the Echo ecosystem, and given the speed at which they are moving it seems likely rivals such as Microsoft, who are not even off the starting blocks yet, will be left in the dust.
Update: The final name of the device is said to be the Echo Show and will retail for $229.99, and likely £219.99 in the UK and €239.99 in Europe, with pre-orders starting 9th May.