Amazon Echo is basically a voice command device from Amazon.com with many functions. It’s more like an Amazon-made Siri or Google Now rival that lives in your home instead of your pocket.
The hardest part of the Amazon Echo is step which takes us closer to Tony Stark like technology that first trying to figure out what it is – Basically it’s a smart Bluetooth speaker that can do a little bit of many things.
Here’s what you get for $180 : An attractive, cylindrical Bluetooth speaker, with a handful of top-notch microphones and a Siri-like voice interface capable of performing an ever-expanding menu of tasks from playing music to ordering products, looking up facts, news, weather and sports, managing your calendar, reading audiobooks and controlling certain smarthome appliances.
Over the course of a month with Echo, it’s spent most of its time functioning as Bluetooth speaker, kicking out some songs from Pandora, Amazon Prime Music or whatever is playing on our connected phone or tablet. We can control the music volume, skip tracks and issue thumbs up or thumbs down ratings all via quick voice commands rather than having to stop working and flip through apps.
It is a 2.5-inch woofer and a 2.0-inch tweeter that put out deep bass and high fidelity audio to rival most “dumb” Bluetooth speakers in the same price range. There are seven microphones in the top of this sleek 9.25-inch-tall canister-style speaker, which comes in only black for now (which is not bad, from what I think). The volume ring on the top of the speaker lights up when you say “Alexa,” letting you know she is ready to accept your command. The 360-degree audio provided enough volume to fill a room without distorting in each situation we tried it in.
It (more like SHE) also tell jokes if you’re feeling low. For the kids, Echo doles out an almost endless and irritating supply of bad puns when asked to tell a joke. Her voice sounded fairly natural. I think you’ll like her better than Siri. And yes, the voice is personable and real enough that it very much feels more natural to refer to Alexa as “she” rather than “it.”
It works particularly well for getting a weather forecast too, both the daily and weekly varieties. You can also ask Alexa the time, to set an alarm or timer for you, add items to your to-do or shopping lists on your tablet or smartphone, and learn fun facts from her, including definitions of words
Echo also comes with a remote to control the device when you’re just a little too far away, there’s too much background noise or you just don’t want to shout across the room. The remote has its own microphone, so speaking into it is just the same as talking to Echo on your desk. One of the great feature is “Simon says,” which tells Echo to repeat whatever you say. When used with the remote, it’s great for playing practical jokes on unsuspecting kids.
Part of the issue with Echo’s limited functionality is that it’s not fully open to developers. At the moment, the Echo software development kit is in a private beta. How much Amazon opens up Echo to developers and encourages them to get on board the platform will be key to its future success, but it’s tough to predict how this will go.
It’s also unfortunate that Echo lacks a rechargeable battery, meaning that you’ll need to find a convenient spot near an outlet anytime you want to move it from the office to the kitchen to the patio to wherever. It would be so much easier to be able to just grab Echo and go, then recharge it each night next to your phone. Our guess is that adding a sufficient battery may have been a deal-breaker for Echo in the areas of size, weight or price.
The average consumer, is likely to find that Echo mostly seems to just duplicate a lot of the functionality of Siri or Google Now, at least for the moment. If Amazon continues to add new features and compatible services to Echo, it could become more clearly valuable to us.
Right now, Amazon is selling Echo in the U.S. for $179.99 check it here for more
“Alexa, did you like the review of the Amazon Echo ?”
So what do you think about it. Make sure to tell us in the comment section.