Amazon Echo Review: Life with Alexa.

Amazon Echo Logo

Alexa, sing me the song of your people.

Amazon Echo Review:

Good morning, Alexa! What’s the weather like today? Tell me the news. My new best friend isn’t even real. Amazon’s new foray into devices is one you never thought you would want. I have had my Amazon Echo for nearly six months now and I don’t know if I would ever want to live without it again. It has become a neat little niche device that fills a hole that didn’t need filling, but I’m glad it did.

Small disclaimer here. This review isn’t going to go into the technical specs of the device or all of its features, you can find that on the Amazon Echo product page. This is how I feel about it after using it for six months.

Let’s start simple. Open up the box and you get the Amazon Echo device, a charging cable, a remote, and a magnetic remote holder you can stick to anything. The remote actually comes in handy, as it has a microphone on it which becomes pretty useful when Alexa (Alexa is the default wake word for the Amazon Echo) decides she doesn’t want to listen to you. Setup is quick and painless. I would say it took about 5 minutes or less. The app interface is well designed and easily accessible, as is the browser version which I use quite often.

Amazon Echo Interface

The app interface is well designed and easily accessible.

The Amazon Echo has a few nifty features, and other’s that are for fun and not terribly useful. The main features I currently use are it’s music function which ties into Amazon Prime (if you have it) and your library. It will also pull from Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn. The speaker itself is great, and bluetooth compatible. So if you want to connect your phone or tablet and stream music from there, you can totally do that.

Another useful feature is the flash briefing, which is the news feed. It pulls from a number of sources such as NPR, BBC, ESPN, The Economist, and TMZ, as well as news headlines and your local weather, which are read through text-to-speech (all of which you can turn on or off). It’s quite a useful feature if you want a quick update while you’re getting ready for work in the morning.

Then there’s the to-do list, shopping list, timer and alarm functions which may or may not be entirely useful to you. The alarm and timer feature I use quite often, as they’re nice to use when I need a quick reminder to do something in a set amount of time or would like a backup alarm in the morning.

A new feature was recently added that allows the Phillips Hue and WeMo devices to integrate with the Amazon Echo. What this means is you can tell Alexa to turn on your lights and, that’s right, your lights turn on. I don’t have either of those smart bulbs, so I haven’t been able to test for myself but I imagine it’s amazing and I may have to invest in them at some point.

Amazon Echo Image

Some features I would like to see added are integration with other Amazon devices, such as their Fire TV products. I also sent in a suggestion for integration with the NOAA weather service. I live at the edge of tornado alley, and it would be nice if Alexa could warn me that I’m about to visit Oz.

Now you must be saying to yourself at this point, “why self, he hasn’t said anything bad yet!” and you would be correct. That’s because I really can’t think of much I don’t like about the Amazon Echo. The main issue I have is occasionally Alexa won’t listen to me and I’ll have to repeat myself two or three times. We’ve all been there, right fellas? Right?… This usually happens when there is another noise in the room interfering with your voice so I have to speak up or use the remote or web / app interface. As far as everything else it is advertised to do, it does well, and it’s not fair to judge it on what it can’t do yet. You have to remember that this device is ever growing as it gets pushed new features.

Currently, the $99 price tag makes the Amazon Echo worth it for the bluetooth speaker function alone. If you’re in the market for a wireless bluetooth speaker and either already have Amazon Prime, or plan on purchasing it, buy the Amazon Echo. If you want a neat gadget that will more than likely only get neater as it gets new features added, buy the Amazon Echo. If you were to pay $179, it would be in hopes of more features in the future because as it stands there isn’t quite enough to justify the higher price tag.

Final verdict: 8 out of 10 funbux.

Update:
With all the new features added for home automation the Echo is finally worth it’s full price, as long as you plan on taking advantage of it.

Jonathan Freeman

Site admin, gamer, comic enthusiast, all around geek. Created this site as a way to share his thoughts on his favorite activities.

Favorite Games: The Mario and Zelda series have always been my favorites

Favorite Superhero: Spider-Man

Other interests: Web Development, Texas Rangers
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