Smaller, Portable Version of Amazon Echo to be Released in the Coming Weeks

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The Amazon Echo has a New Year’s resolution: Slim down and lose the power cord.

The online retailer plans to release a smaller, portable and cheaper version of the Echo, a digital voice assistant crammed into a cylinder speaker, in the coming weeks, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing anonymous sources.

The current Echo can be voice-activated to play music, turn on Internet-connected lights, answer questions or even tell jokes, though it needs to be plugged in to work. The new device — code-named “Fox” — can charge on a docking station and fit comfortably in the palm of someone’s hand. Also, it will sell at a lower price than the Echo’s $180 price tag. However, to preserve battery life, the new device won’t be voice activated, and instead respond to voice commands only when a user pushes a button, the report said.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment on the story.

Amazon developed the new speaker at its secretive hardware lab in Silicon Valley, called Lab126, which created many of Amazon’s other devices, including its Kindle e-reader and Fire tablet and phone, the Journal said.

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SOURCE: Cnet, Ben Fox Rubin