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"Alexa everywhere." That's been one of the top themes of CES 2017, with device makers large and small introducing new skills for Amazon's smash-hit voice-activated assistant. And, with Amazon having made it relatively easy for device-makers to code the virtual helper directly into their products, we're also seeing lots of new gadgets that come with Alexa built right in.
Enter Dok Talk, which makes a wide assortment of multi-device charging stations. Their newest, the Dok Talk CR25, features a little microphone button on top -- give it a tap, and voila, there's Alexa, ready to take your question or command.
The device itself has five USB inputs capable of charging both phones and tablets (complete with protection against over-charging), as well as a Bluetooth speaker in the base and a Qi wireless charging pad that'll let you charge a sixth device. It looks capable enough as a basic bedside charging station (if not a bit generic), but the addition of Alexa makes it into something a lot more compelling, especially given Alexa's ever-growing library of third-party skills.
It's good evidence that Alexa is proving to be a rising tide for in-home tech. Even off-brand, otherwise unremarkable devices like this one can bring in Alexa where it makes sense; in doing so, they get to expand the functionality of what they're selling to a near-exponential degree.
Of course, it also gives companies that make bargain-bin junk an excuse to jack up the price of what they're hocking. I'm not saying that's what Dok Talk's up to here (and I can't speak to the quality of the device until we test one out), but I'll still be curious to see how the CR25's yet-to-be-determined asking price compares to the company's non-Alexa-enabled chargers when it arrives later this year.
For now, Dok Talk says the plan is to sell it for less than the Amazon Echo's current asking-price of $180 in the US and £149 in the UK (The Echo isn't currently available in Australia, but its price converts roughly to AU$245). Hopefully, it's a lot less given that those standard Dok Talk chargers run for about $80 in the US, and unlike the Echo the Dok Talk makes you press a button to wake Alexa up.
The CR25 is heading to market later this year, both on Dok Talk's website and on Amazon. Dok Talk also plans to sell a less expensive version of the charger that keeps Alexa, but ditches the Qi charging pad. Both will ship worldwide.