I've been hearing about Alexa or a long time and the original was taller and more expensive ($179). Every time I went to Amazon I'd see echo but I didn't bother to find out what that was until recently.
For 50 bucks I figured it would be fun and hopefully useful so I went for it. There's actually a lot more I could have showed in the video but I didn't want it to get too long. She can also play music and read books from your Kindle account and a few other sources. "Alexa, play Fleetwood Mac" No problem. She says she's shuffling songs by Mac and begins playing them at random. She also plays WSKG which is my NPR station but I can't get it on the radio--only on my droid. So now I don't have to mess with all that. Just say, Alexa, play WSKG!
If you watch the video you'll notice that she is most definitely female. Sometimes I have to shout two or three times to get her to pay attention and stop what she's doing.
So, if you can part with 50 bucks fro something new and different, fun and useful, I'd recommend it. And if you don't have a droid to run the Alexa app, no problem, you can do the same thing from amazon.com/alexa.