This year we saw various smart home devices. It was a competitive year for the smart home appliances. We saw Google Home, Amazon Echo, Cortana, an update of Siri and also Facebook came up with smart home Jarvis. That being said, out of all these Amazon Echo emerged to be among the top of the smart homes till now.
Though the other smart homes are not far behind, we have brought you a complete and detailed review about the Amazon Echo.
What is Amazon Echo?
Though we know that most of you are aware of what the Amazon Echo is, for those who don’t know about the Amazon Echo, this is a voice-controlled personal assistant. The personal assistant is called Alexa. It is the first AI personal assistant to be present in a dedicated device. Alexa listens to your commands, answers all the questions, plays music and controls the smart home appliances. It interacts the third party apps and even helps you in your shopping. Amazon Echo upgraded itself through the third party apps called Skills. One year after the release of Amazon Echo in the US, Amazon finally brought the Echo to the UK, and it was named as Echo Dot.
Amazon Echo Design
The Echo device is quite nice to look when you bring it out of the box. The box is back in color, with a matte finish and it suits in most of the living environments. Like ay Bluetooth speakers, the cylindrical Amazon Echo offers a 360-degree audio experience. The speaker grille is present on the lower half of the device. Seven multi-directional microphones enable the users for commanding Alexa from anywhere in the room. The light up rim identifies that microphones can pick up the sound. The colors change light according to the condition of Echo or the request you make.
You have to make voice commands most of the time. But you will get manual controls too. The top of Amazon Echo rotates for adjusting the volume. If you are concerned about the Alexa eavesdropping, you can deactivate the buttons on top or enable the microphones. The device should remain connected to the main power supply most of the time. And one more reason to log in to the mains is the battery dies soon because of constant connection to the internet. Amazon needs to work on improving the battery capability. There is also no 3.5mm audio jack so the external devices should be connected through Bluetooth.
For a portable experience, you can opt for Echo Dot. It is a bit cheaper edition, and it connects to the Wi-Fi and mobile hotspots. Plus the battery backup is also good. Echo Dot offers nine hours of battery life.
Amazon Echo installation
Setting up Amazon Echo is quite easy. Just download the app for Android or iOS device. Pair the Echo with your home Wi-Fi connection; the connectivity is reliable even if the device is far away. The app will help you to add skills. With one tap, it can integrate with Spotify, BBC news, Uber rides and Pizza orders. Linking the phone is also easy. All you need is just say “pair,” find the Echo in settings and connect it. You can set the name, but it will respond to options like Alexa, Amazon or Echo. It would be better if you can name it otherwise.
Features of Echo
To start with, there are thousands of skills. Ordering an Uber, getting traffic updates, asking Alexa for information on anything, connecting Google calendar and handling your schedule, Alexa can reduce your work to a lot of extents. Alexa holds multiple profiles and thus entire family can set up events for using Alexa. It controls most smart devices directly. With the IFTT feature, you can make the device do almost anything. At present, the IFTT feature is for the US only, but Amazon says it will come to the UK soon.
You can request music using Spotify, but you will also need a premium subscription of Spotify. You can skip songs, and Alexa can also create a playlist depending on your song search history. It gets the latest podcasts for you, get you personalized news updates from reliable sources like BBC, Sky News and The Guardian. Also, Alexa can search things up like “who plays [that] character in [–] Netflix show.”
Echo sound quality
The sound quality is moderate. Not really brilliant actually. Yes, you can command for music, but if you are solely purchasing Amazon Echo for speakers or sound, then it is not satisfactory. The sound is clear and balanced, but it can be a bit distorted sometimes. It is also not expressive enough, so t is better not to use it for the parties.
Alexa voice recognition
The seven microphones present for Amazon Echo can recognize the voice from a long distance, and this is what Amazon can boast. Anywhere you are in your room; the device will hear you. But if the music is too high, the device might fail to catch up your voice. Gradually the voice recognition has improved. And it is great even if you phrase something strange. It is better than Xbox One’s voice command. A lot of times, you might not have to make specific commands; just make requests like talking to a human. Alexa will work it. Amazon sends all requests to cloud for analysis. It raises some privacy concerns, but you can always delete the commands.
It is just like other equipment of Amazon. There is a tendency to use Amazon’s services. The company wants you to make the shopping lists, repeat favorite orders and track packages. The default music provider is set to Audible and music is through prime. You can change it to Spotify if you want. If you are streaming through the Apple Music, Google Ply or Tidal, then Alexa does not perform well. Connect through Bluetooth and use it as the speaker. Import music to Amazon and first 250 songs are free.
The Amazon Echo is compatible with a lot of smart products. You can connect it with Hue, Nest, Honeywell, Lyric, iHome, WeMo and much more. It is why Echo is perfect if you have a lot of smart gadgets in the home. It is much better one than Apple because you won’t just have to rely on a single standard HomeKit.
Amazon Echo has replaced a lot of gadgets in our homes, and it is an excellent way to control different systems. It is improving with time. Certain skills are solely for the US and when these skills are implemented for the UK, it will be even better. Alexa is not the Jarvis of Iron Man, but it has the potential to be the best AI on its time. It can control a lot of devices with different apps, clean UI and connects a lot of devices with Wi-Fi. The Future is now, and you can opt for the Amazon Echo.