AMAZON ECHO: FUTURISTIC SMART TECH SPEAKER DELIVERS INTELLIGENT DESIGN

AMAZON ECHO: FUTURISTIC SMART TECH SPEAKER DELIVERS INTELLIGENT DESIGN

Amazon Echo

$179.99
Amazon Echo
8

Overall Rating

8/10

    Features

    8/10

      Usability

      8/10

        Design

        9/10

          Performance

          7/10

            Pros

            • Voice recognition delivers excellent performance
            • Practical and accessible functionality
            • Great existing pipeline of new features and integrations due for release
            • Regularly expanding support for new features and devices
            • Brings fun back into Smart Home Tech for users

            Cons

            • Not portable due to No built-in battery
            • Sound quality varies at high volume use
            • Currently device doesn’t have access to email and messages

            Verdict – Amazon Echo

            The Amazon Echo was released in November 2014, and as a smart tech home assistant, the device is rapidly learning over time and getting smarter by the day due to widespread world usage. 

            The functionality of the Amazon Echo to function as a Smart Home Automation Hub in addition to providing voice activated commands for information searches, Amazon Echo delivers a level of Smart Tech user interaction to the next level. 

            Users will find the growing list of features and functionalities add fun and interactive “Smart Tech” benefits to their daily lives.  From waking up and asking traffic or weather conditions from the comfort of your bed to

            A simple voice command to turn on lights while starting your favorite Spotify playlist is great when returning home at the end of the day. The Amazon Echo delivers a futuristic glimpse into the future of Smart Tech Homes.

            Definitely a Must Have for Techies and Consumers looking for convenience in their daily lives.

            Amazon Echo Features and Review

            The Amazon Echo is essentially a hybrid between a wireless Bluetooth speaker and a Smart Home Automation unit.  For those of you familiar with using Siri on the Apple iPhone, Cortana for Microsoft Windows Smartphones, or OK Google for Android Smartphones, the built-in voice control of the Amazon Echo will be familiar and very easy to use.

            Alexa is Amazon Echo’s version of your Smartphone Assistant and is an extremely user friendly and easy voice control system to set up.  Not only was it innovative when first released, but after two years of mass consumer use, the Amazon Echo Alexa system has worked out any initial bugs and is loads of fun to integrate into your daily routine

            AMAZON ECHO DESIGN

            The Amazon Echo is a matte black cylinder that has a circumference of 3.27 inches and height of 9.25 inches covered in circular perforations allowing for great quality sound delivery that can fill a mid-size room.

            You can control the volume using voice activation, which is our preferred method of control, but Amazon Echo also has incorporated a volume ring that twists to lower or raise volume manually.  There are also two buttons on top of the Echo that control the microphone’s On/Off capability and a Multi-purpose button for various other programmable tasks.

            Amazon Echo Design Features | Review

            There is a cool blue light ring next to 7 built-in microphones that lights up so you know when you are in control of the speaker system.  The Echo detects your voice causing the ring to light up in the direction of your voice which is a great techie testament that you are the master of your Echo domain.

            For those of you that have a strong relationship with a handheld remote control, Amazon Echo offers an optional microphone equipped remote that can be helpful if you are in a busy environment of kids playing, dogs barking, and general household chaos.  The handheld Echo remote has a rubberized grip and measures 5.5 by 1.5 inches and allows you to control playback of your favorite music and volume control.

            amazon-echo-review-remote-3

            We found the Echo’s built-in microphone system worked very well for use during testing, so perhaps start out just using the voice activated system and if you find your personal environment challenging then upgrade to the Echo microphone equipped remote control for added versatility.

            AMAZON ECHO SET-UP AND APP

            You have your Amazon Echo home and are ready to get started-What’s next?

            The Set-up is very easy and nothing compared to putting together a piece of IKEA furniture.  The instructions Amazon provides are very straightforward and friendly to even the most tech challenged folks out there.

            You simply plug in the Amazon Echo, download the Echo app on either your Android smartphone, iOS device, or Amazon Fire phone or tablet.  Then just follow the easy to use app instructions from there.  If you would prefer to use your laptop for set up rather than your smartphone, you can access the Amazon Echo app from the web on a supported browser.

            One of the great features of the Echo set-up is once you have completed the steps from the app, you no longer need your external device used for set-up. If you used your smartphone to connect the Echo to the internet, once the Echo is connected to your Wi-Fi, you are automatically ready to go and enjoy your new “home assistant”

            Amazon Echo App | Home Gadgets That Make Life EasierThe menu on the Amazon Echo app is very basic initially as it allows for multiple levels of customization for hundreds of incredibly cool functions using the Alexa Voice Commands.

            Once you are used to using the Echo, you can individually determine how the device can enhance your life on a personal basis.

            Whether that be playing music, listening to your audio books, getting updated traffic reports for your morning commute, getting reminders of upcoming appointments in your calendar—the options are virtually endless.

            You initially have formatted “To-do Lists” and “Shopping Lists” that you can begin to populate as well as setting alarms etc.  But we were really interested in the music compatibility and performance offered by this Bluetooth enabled speaker.

            As the speaker has built-in Bluetooth, you can play content from your Smartphone and just use the Amazon Echo as a normal external speaker.

            But the real fun begins when you realize you have access to a multitude of music streaming services.  That is one of the best features of the Amazon Echo is not only do you have immediate access to Amazon’s own Prime Music platform.

            The Echo is also compatible with a wide range of third party music streaming services.  Many devices are tied to one particular proprietary system such as iTunes etc., but with the Amazon Echo you have choices that include:

            1. Amazon Prime Music
            2. Audible
            3. iHeartRadio
            4. Pandora
            5. TuneIn

            For those of you that are tied to subscriptions with iTunes or Spotify, this requires a bit more set-up due to the restrictions Apple puts on everything, well Apple.  The Amazon Echo doesn’t automatically connect unless you have your smartphone hooked up via Bluetooth.  Once that is done then the Echo allows you to control iTunes and Spotify playback via Alexa’s normal voice controls.

            We don’t fault the Amazon Echo for this extra step in incorporating iTunes and Spotify, as these are issues that Apple and Spotify need to come to the table and resolve.  It is also worth noting that you are unable to search for specific artists, songs, etc. on Spotify through Echo’s Alexa voice controls as she is only able to perform the basic functions of play, pause, and skipping tracks.

            If you are an avid Spotify user, then we recommend you weigh the benefits of Amazon Echo’s other functionalities against the limitation of Spotify functionality when making a purchasing decision.  Or check to see if the compatible systems mentioned above have your favorite artists and save $11 bucks a month by switching to a compatible service.

            amazon-echo-app-skills

            Stay tuned for an upcoming article on the Top 20 coolest things you can do with Amazon Alexa Skills section such as “Finding Movie Times” or asking Alexa “Find me a nearby Italian restaurant”.  We will also be reporting on how to customize your Amazon Echo for both Car and Home Automation.

            AMAZON ECHO VOICE CONTROL AND PORTABILITY ANALYSIS

            You now have set-up your Amazon Echo App and are ready to start a “conversation” with Alexa.  Like “Ok Google”, the Amazon Echo uses a “wake word” to detect when the device is needed to come online.  So if you are waking up in the morning and want to know the weather for the day, you simply apply the “wake word” with your commands.

            An example of this is “Alexa, what is the weather today?”.  Alexa will detect you are speaking to her and then process your command.  Alexa uses your own voice to learn from you and there is a Voice Training section in the Echo app if you have a bit of an accent.  One of our team members is from Australia and had a few initial hiccups in getting Alexa to understand him, but she quickly learned and he hasn’t had any ongoing issues.

            The Amazon Echo app also has a section that allows you to learn some of the most used Alexa voice commands and even has a section that provides an introductory video to guide you and provides “Things to Try” suggestions.

            For parent with school children, the Echo voice control can be a great homework assistant by providing many of the same functionalities as a Google search.  Alexa can provide anything from word definitions, geographic trivia, science or nature trivia, etc.  The Amazon Echo’s voice assistant can be utilized to be a great educational tool by making learning fun and interactive.

            AMAZON ECHO COMPATIBLE ALEXA SMART HOME AUTOMATION VOICE CONTROL DEVICES

            For those techies that embrace the prospect of having an automated home without splashing out big bucks on an expensive hardwired system, the Amazon Echo has been adding increased integrated functionality since launching two years ago by supporting many third party home automation providers.

            Smart Home Technology | Amazon Echo Review

            Click Here For A Full List Of Amazon Echo’s Home Integration

            1. Philips Hue Bridge Hub-Alexa voice compatible controls light bulbs, light strips
            2. Belkin WeMo-no Hub required-Alexa voice compatible but also works with Smartphone, controls electrical outlets for appliances and light switches with compatible WeMo Switch
            3. Honeywell-no Hub required-Lyric T5 Wi-Fi Thermostat, Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Touchscreen Thermostat, Lyric Thermostat
            4. Wink Connected Home Hub-Alexa voice compatible but also works with Smartphone, controls Nest Learning Thermostat, Leviton Electronic dimmer, GE Link Smart LED Light Bulb, Philips Hue BR30 Bulbs and Bridge, Leviton VRMX1-1LZ, Cree Connected 60W Soft White Dimmable LED Light Bulb
            5. Insteon Hub-Alexa control lamps, Nest thermostats, light bulbs, ceiling fans, pool pumps etc.
            6. Samsung Smart Things-Alexa voice compatible can control hundreds of compatible smart devices like coffee machines, A/C units, portable heaters, fans, lights, receive alerts for appliances accidentally left on which is a great safety feature-the Hub works in US and Canada

            AMAZON ECHO PORTABILITY

            Portability of the Amazon Echo is one area we would like to see improved for future releases.  While you have the option of the battery powered Amazon Dot, we would like to see the Amazon Echo have a built-in battery option.  It would be great to take the Echo to the park for a picnic or move to a different room without having to unplug the Echo.

            The Amazon Echo is purposely designed to be a stationary device, but we find this to be prohibitive as ideally many users would like to have the Amazon Echo next to their bed in the morning and have the ability to use in the kitchen during breakfast.  The workaround is to have multiple devices for different living areas, but for many this would be cost prohibitive.

            AMAZON ECHO AUDIO

            There is a great deal of hype and marketing spin on the Amazon Echo’s home automation and voice activation capabilities.  But for many of us, we are also purchasing the Amazon Echo for listening to our favorite music, so the quality of the speaker performance is important in the purchasing process.

            We found the Amazon Echo performed very well for different variety of music, although there was some notable distortion when you start to reach maximum volume.  The Echo performed best in a medium sized room and tends to perform to the maximum potential on more high-end scale rather than deep bass songs.

            It is important to take stock in whether you are looking for simply a Bluetooth enabled external speaker to play your favorite music or a high-tech voice assistant with the ability to organize your life, shopping, music, and provide news etc.

            If you are looking for a great speaker, the Amazon Echo certainly performs to similar Bluetooth enabled external devices, but there are comparable stand-alone speakers that have portability with great sound.  They won’t have the voice activated capability, but if that is just a novelty for you and great sound quality is important then you may want to shop around.

            If you are looking for a Smart Tech Home Assistant that can add benefits and convenience to your life through the Alexa voice assistance functionality with the added functionality of listening to your favorite music selections, then the Amazon Echo is a great investment that will continue to grow with you.

            Amazon has been actively integrating third-party apps and will continue to add increased functionalities to enhance the devoted techie’s everyday life.

            For all of the Latest News and Product Reviews on Smart Tech and Wearable Technology Devices, visit us on I Wear the Tech.com


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