How popular was Amazon 's Echo during the 2016 holiday season? So popular that the company actually sold out before Christmas, and won't have more inventory until January 26! (Incidentally, the Echo Dot is sold out as well, though it's due to start shipping again on January 18.)
Don't want to wait? You don't have to. There are other ways to bring Alexa into your home -- Alexa, of course, being the voice-activated assistant baked into the Echo and other devices. She's the star of the show; the Echo itself is merely the conduit.
But whether you're looking for the Echo proper or just Alexa in some other form, you've got options. Lots and lots of them.
Amazon may be sold out, but other stores aren't
Lest we forget, there are other stores in the world besides Amazon. Retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy and even Groupon all carry the Echo, and all of them currently have it in stock. (Pro tip: For a limited time, Groupon's price drops to $161.99 when you apply promo code SALE3 at checkout.)
Consider a Tap instead
The Amazon Tap may be the red-headed stepchild of the Echo family (indeed, it doesn't even have Echo in the name), but it's still an Alexa-enabled product, and therefore worth considering.
Unlike the Echo and Dot, which are designed to stay put, the Tap is portable -- a battery-powered speaker good for up to 9 hours of listening. The only real downside: You have to push a button before speaking to Alexa. She's not always listening. Read CNET's review to help decide if the Tap is a good option for you.
Try a Triby
Echo, Echo Dot and Tap aren't the only Alexa-enabled games in town. The Triby is a smart speaker with Alexa integration -- one of the first third-party products to make that claim. It's magnetic, designed to clamp onto your fridge and serve as a kind of family hub. To that end, it offers an e-ink display and unique messaging system family members can use to communicate.
The Triby originally sold for $200, but recently sites like Woot have been offering it for as little as $79.99 -- far less than what you'd pay for an Echo or Tap.
Fire up your tablet
Late last year, Amazon added Alexa to some of its Fire tablets. She can't do quite as much there as she can on a speaker -- and, as with the Tap, you have to press a button to wake her up -- but she definitely has skills.
Indeed, try these six cool ways to use Alexa on your Fire tablet.
If you're willing to wait till the end of January, consider waiting even longer, because Alexa is coming to a lot more products. For example, the Lenovo Smart Assistant is an unabashed Echo copycat, but with Harman Kardon innards that reportedly produce much better sound. Expected price tag: $129.99, a full $50 less than the Echo. It's due to go on sale in May.
Similarly, the Linkplay Omaker Wow is a Tap-like portable speaker that offers Echo-like hands-free operation. It's expected to hit Amazon later this month, though the price has yet to be announced.
Here's a roundup of other places Alexa will appear in the coming months, including select Ford cars, a new LG fridge and even a way-cool lamp.
What do you think? Is Echo worth the wait, or do you think you might seek Alexa elsewhere?