Amazon releases its first portable smart speaker in years, but you can't have it in the US yet

Amazon releases its first portable smart speaker in years, but you can't have it in the US yet
Amazon sells a lot of Echo-branded devices nowadays in the US and many other markets around the world, most of which are designed to smarten up your home. But while there's definitely plenty to choose from in terms of size, form factor, price point, and yes, even touchscreen-sporting models, one important thing that the world's most popular smart speaker family does not cover is portability.

As its unnecessarily long name suggests, the freshly released Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition aims to change that, packing a 4,800mAh rechargeable battery that should be powerful enough to deliver 10 hours of non-stop music playback without hugging a wall. You may not remember this, but Amazon actually unveiled a portable Bluetooth speaker with built-in Alexa assistance before.

We're talking about 2016's Amazon Tap, which looked nothing like this hot new Echo Input Portable variant, failing to gain much of a following before being quietly discontinued last year. The e-commerce giant turned global leader of a booming hardware market seems to have learned a thing or two from the Tap's tepid consumer reception, improving its mediocre battery life (at least on paper) and eliminating the awkward process of summoning Alexa while on the move.

Instead of "tapping" a button, Echo Input Portable owners will be able to activate the voice assistant... by voice right off the bat. Interestingly, the portable new speaker is billed as an "Echo for your home" that you can easily carry from "room to room." That's not to say it's very heavy, weighing in at 448 grams, but for some reason, Amazon doesn't envision this as an outdoor-friendly product.

Perhaps the audio power is not particularly impressive, as the company only mentions "360 degree sound", not even going to the trouble of vaguely promoting a "crisp sound" experience or anything. All in all, this feels largely like an experiment meant to gauge interest in portable and compact smart speakers, which is why it's not that shocking to see the Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition exclusively released in one (big) market... for now.

Priced at the affordable equivalent of around $85, the fairly intriguing device is scheduled to start shipping on December 18 in India, currently fetching just 70 bucks or so (Rs. 4,999) when taking a pre-order discount into consideration. How about it, folks, would you like to see this thing rapidly expanded to the US and other countries? Is the concept of a portable smart speaker interesting to you or should Amazon stick to its "traditional" Echo designs?
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