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Cheeps! This a rerun of sorts as I shared an Echo deal back in April. That one was new, but also cost $20 more. This is the first refurb I've seen -- and I'm sure it won't be the last. So if you miss out on this deal (and I suspect there'll be a quick sellout), don't fret.
When Amazon announced the mysterious, monolithic Echo last year, I had no idea if I'd like the thing -- but I was intrigued, so I bought one. For the first few months it sat pretty idle in my kitchen, because I sort of didn't know what to do with it.
Then my family started fiddling with it -- "Alexa, what's the temperature?" "Alexa, play my Coldplay station on Pandora" -- and almost overnight it became a fixture. Meanwhile, my parents bought one. My sister bought one. They love it.
The $179.99 price tag is a little steep, though. Fortunately, there's finally a refurbished alternative: While supplies last Woot has the refurbished Amazon Echo for $134.99, plus $5 for shipping.
Take note: These are Amazon-recertified units that will have minor cosmetic blemishes. And you'll get a 90-day Woot warranty, versus one year if you buy new. Is a $45 savings worth these shortcomings? Especially since, after you factor in shipping, it's really more like $40.
On paper, the Echo is just a voice-activated speaker. Give it a command, it responds and/or performs an action. Smartphones have offered similar capabilities for a while, now, and both Android and iOS devices can do things hands-free by hollering "OK, Google" and "Hey, Siri," respectively.
But the Echo can do a lot more. It integrates with a host of smart-home products, music services, automation tools (hello, IFTTT!) and so on. And it's loud enough to be heard from across the room -- not usually the case with your phone.
For a closer look at what the Echo can do, I'll turn you over to CNET's Amazon Echo review. To my thinking it's like Apple's first iPad: a product that seemed like a shot in the dark at first, but rapidly became a user favorite. Certainly it's the most "fun" gadget in my house, something that still delights visitors. I suspect that in the not-too-distant future, every home will incorporate very similar technology.
Bonus deal: When it comes to remote PC access, TeamViewer is my preferred freebie option. However, it limits you to one computer; if you need more licenses, prices get steep in a hurry. For a limited time, you can get a one-year RemotePC 3-PC subscription for $9.90, a savings of 80 percent. With it you can remotely access up to three PCs from just about any device: laptop, tablet, phone, etc. Features include chat, file transfer, session recording and more.