What is the Amazon Echo?
Review: Installation, Possibilities
Home Automation and Tips:
“The Echo may be the closest thing we’ll have to a
Star Trek computer at home.” – CNET
“Echo could hear my voice even when
music was playing loudly..” –USA Today
Review – What is the Amazon Echo?
Your new Ec-h-o System
What is the Amazon Echo Speaker? – For those of you who never heard of it: Amazon Echo is a smart device for voice controlled home automation; and much more. A hands free device, which helps you with a lot of your daily tasks and makes life more easy and comfortable. You think I am kidding? Not at all! I was asked by a customer: ‘How can a black-tube-thing help me with my daily tasks?’ – Trust me it can and further down you will understand why. So to give you a plain answer to the question What is the Amazon Echo? It is Your Personal Home Assistant 2.0!
Installation – made really easy through voice control and the App. You do not have to be a computer-savvy! It just takes 4 steps to get the Amazon Echo up and running: 1.Connect the power socket to the echo – 2.Download the App – 3.Connect the Amazon Echo Speaker to your WiFi (within the App) – 4.Put the batteries in the remote control – and you are good to go! To control other devices like the WeMo Switches or the Philips Hue Lighting you sometimes have to take one or two tries, but then it works smooth and perfect. In the past included in the box came theamazon echo remote control, which is missing now. A useful and highly recommended tool to buy as an add-on.
The echo is designed to probably stay in one place of your house. Mostly the kitchen or the living room. So if you are at your home-office or simple in the kitchen while the echo is in the living room you can not use a few of the really helping key features. For example you are in the kitchen and during making the meal you see that some ingredients are missing. If you have the remote, which has an additional microphone for voice commands to your echo, you can simply say: Alexa add sugar to my shopping list. Or if you are upstairs and want to schedule an appointment to the family-calendar you can do so with your amazon echo remote control – more than just a useful tool. Like always you find a complete bundle at the end of the review.
Possibilities / Functionality – So we already managed to answer the Quetion What is the Amazon Echo? Lets start with the fun part!
Okay, we normally try to be neutral and unconcerned by the products we review. But the Amazon Echo Speaker amazed the whole team. Everyone tried to ‘speak to ALEXA’ and ‘she’ recognized everyones voice, high low, soft hard. The hit ratio of the Echo, compared to other voice controlled home automation devices is simple – astonishing. We even tried background music and background talk. Alexa, the voice within the Amazon echo still got the commands and fulfilled most of them precisely.
What is the Amazon Echo? or better –
What the Amazon Echo can do for you!
- Alarms, timers, and lists: Stay on time and organized with voice-controlled alarms, timers, shopping lists, and to-do lists.
- Calendars: Check your upcoming schedule by asking what’s on your Google calendar.
- Music: Listen to your Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio. – Pandora: Listen to and discover music from Pandora’s library of over 1 million tracks.
- News, weather, and information: Hear up-to-the-minute weather and news from a variety of sources, including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn.
- Traffic: Hear commute time and the fastest route to your destination.
- Sports: Ask for sports scores and schedules from the NFL, NBA, MLS, MLB, NHL, NCAA, WNBA, and more.
- Audible: Play audiobooks from Audible with Echo. Plus, Echo supports Whispersync for Voice to continue right where you left off.
- Shopping: Restock on previously purchased items by re-ordering Prime-eligible products in your Amazon shopping history.
- Questions and answers: Get information from Wikipedia, definitions, answers to common questions, and more.
- Connected home: Control compatible with Belkins WeMo series, Philips Lighting Hue, the Nest thermostat and thousand of other. Actually most of the famous home automation brands like SmartThings are working with Amazon on making their devices compatible. Control them with your voice.
- IFTTT – the amazing ‘If This Than That’ – recipes, which can connect the Echo to other devices, Apps and simple tasks – boost the variety even more. You can get Tips & Tricks inside our IFTTT review, with tons of tips to show you the possibilities in the near future. Sneak peek: https://ifttt.com/recipes
Starting to experiment with the Amazon Echo and my new ‘personal assistant Alexa’, I was amazed how freely I can speak. You start with “Alexa…” followed by a command or question and like your “genie in a bottle” or in a black tube … Alexa is there for you and provides you with the answer!
In all day use, my family noticed, that sometimes the other way around gets a bit tricky. Sometimes when I am talking to ‘Alexa’, my wife or my son ask me, if I asked ‘them’ something. So we had quite a few strange situations in our family. I even was given answers to my question simultaneously by my wife and the amazon echo at the same time. Guess who got the better answer. 😉
Amazon Echo Review
The two most used Features
Clearly – the most used features in all day use of the Amazon Echo, were the play music – and shopping function. Here is the downside, both features only work hassle free if you are an amazon prime-member. Shopping from your amazon accounts-list of previous ordered products only includes products eligible for prime. The great music playing features of the echo, where you can speak out the music you want to hear and almost immediately your favorite song starts to play, needs a music streaming service, like integrated in prime as prime music. You can even search for a song, an artist, a music genre or music for a special mood you are in. Alexa finds it in seconds and starts playing.
Amazon Prime – is a must have! If you want to use all these features of the Echo and the answer to a lot of the possibilities that the amazon echo speaker provides. Without Amazon Prime features like music streaming, shopping or ebook reading simply disappear. Shopping and Prime Music will not be possible without (or at least you need another music streaming company, which means additional costs). If you compare the features that Amazon Prime provides with other services on the market it becomes clear, why amazon is dominating the market.
Prime worth it? – Prime-membership comes with over one million songs for free, unlimited movies and tv-shows free to watch, free unlimited photo storage, over 800.000 free e-books, early access to amazons lightning-deals and the free two-day shipping for prime-members are in sum a really more than worthy bundle. Before you really buy the prime-membership we recommend that you use the – 1 month free trial – from the link above. Try every feature hear music, read books and watch your favorite movies or tv-shows. I would not load the unlimited photo upload until you want to stick to the prime-membership. – Then you can decide if you think it is worth its price!
What Amazon Echo Speaker can not do for you! – Of course it is a cloud based data base system, which only can provide asswers, you might find in a dictionary or in an encyclopedia. Questions like: ‘What is the meaning of life?’ – often lead to no or a joky reply. You will realize, that Alexa is quite quick-witted when you try to force wrong answers. As the Amazon Echo Speaker will be set up in a specific room, you are limited in your opportunities. You will not carry the whole device around. We strongly recommend to use the ‘Amazon Echo Remote control’ (with speaking functionality) as an additional – highly valuable tool. For example: You can take the remote with you in your office, while the echo is still in the living room or in the kitchen (most common places), when you want to set add an appointment to your calender or have somthing for your shopping list or even a note, you can use the remote to speak, as if you had another Amazon Echo Speaker.
But, take a look for yourself:
Conclusion – As you can see above, when you get used to ‘how to address your questions and commands correctly to the amazon echo speaker’ – you have a real bunch of opportunities. Friends will send you admiring glances when you for example arrive together at your home. You open the door – lights go on automatically and Alexa greets you. Then you say ‘Alexa … lights up 20%’ and the lights get brighter. Be sure to have a camera at hand – the stares are priceless!
It is a good helpful device, making your SmartHome even smarter. It leverages the convenience of all your home tech components or daily tasks to a whole new Level! Support and updates come often without additional costs. Like the guys from ZDNet said: “A perfect 10!” – The first we ever agreed!
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Your Comments are Welcome
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