The bad, the good, and the bottom line of the Amazon Echo Device
Here is a video review of the Amazon Echo, a home Bluetooth speaker that also connects to Amazon’s nice new digital assistant.
Using voice commands, you can ask it to perform some basic tasks like checking the news or/and playing streaming music.
The most common questions people have about the Amazon Echo are answered here in this video review about the Amazon Echo (Amazon echo Review ).
Know whether if it’s worth the investment or not.
Plays all your music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice
Fills the room with immersive, 360º omni-directional audio
Allows hands-free convenience with voice-control
Hears you from across the room with far-field voice recognition, even while music is playing
Answers questions, reads audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and more using the Alexa Voice Service
Controls lights, switches, and thermostats with compatible WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Nest, and ecobee smart home devices
Always getting smarter and adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Uber, Domino’s, and more
Amazon’s voice-activated smart home speaker is undeniably futuristic, but it’s also practical and accessible. With a rapidly growing slate of features and integrations, it’s easy to get excited about the Echo’s potential.
The Echo’s sound quality is uneven at times, with weak bass at high volumes. The growing list of “Skills” in the Alexa app could also benefit from better organization.
THE BOTTOM LINE More than a year after its debut, the Echo is smarter than ever, and one of the best connected home products money can currently buy.
The online mega-retailer’s smart speaker seems to get smarter every day. Here’s a rundown of the many tricks up “Alexa’s” sleeve. Since debuting as an invite-only beta-gadget at the end of 2014, the Amazon Echo smart speaker has risen to prominence, with some calling it the breakout product of 2015. A steady stream of new Skills (apps), tricks and third-party integrations are making “Alexa” more and more useful each day. Here’s a rundown of what she’s currently capable of.
Stream songs from Amazon Prime Music
The Echo’s most obvious function is streaming music. Ask Alexa, the Echo’s voice assistant, to play some jazz, or tell her you want to hear “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and she’ll get right to it, streaming music from the Amazon Prime library of tracks.
Stream Spotify, too
If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, you’ll be able to use the service on an Echo, and ask Alexa to play your favorite tracks and playlists.
Stream anything, really
Along with Prime Music and Spotify, the Amazon Echo can stream Pandora, or whatever you’ve got playing on your phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Tune in to the radio
More of a radio fan? No problem — just tell Alexa to play your favorite station, and she’ll use the service TuneIn to, well, tune in. That includes local channels as well as nationally syndicated programming from sources like ESPN and NPR. Ask her for the news of the day, and she’ll play a “flash briefing” of the day’s important headlines (you can customize the specific categories and sources you’d like her to focus on). She can also use iHeartRadio to stream your favorite podcast.
Read your audiobooks
It isn’t just for music playback — Amazon Echo can read audiobooks from Audible, too, many of them read by the author.
Listen to Alexa read
You can also ask Alexa to read you any books you own on Kindle. She can recite the words using the same technology she uses when reading a Wikipedia article.
Host trivia night
Got a question for Alexa? In many cases, though not all of them, she’ll have an answer. If you’d rather be the one answering, you can turn on Alexa’s “Jeopardy” Skill by saying, “Enable Jeopardy.” She’ll gladly rattle off trivia questions for you — just make sure you answer in the form of a question.
Set a timer
Here’s one I use in my own home almost every day: Alexa-powered kitchen timers. Just tell her to set one for however long you need, and Alexa will start the silent countdown. You can have multiple timers running simultaneously, and it’s always a handy, hands-free way to manage the clock while you’re cooking.
Cook a feast…
If you need more than just a timer to make you a good cook, try out one of Alexa’s many cooking Skills. They will walk you through recipes — and you can always ask Alexa for measurement conversions if you need some help.
…Or order pizza
If you’d rather order in than cook for yourself, Alexa can help with that, too. Thanks to an integration with Domino’s, fresh pepperoni pizza is never more than a voice command away.
Pour the perfect cocktail
Want a drink with that pizza? Use one of Alexa’s mixology skills to pour yourself the perfect Manhattan.
Call an Uber
Have too many drinks to drive? Ask Alexa to call an Uber to come and pick you up. If it’s a busy time of day and surge pricing is in effect, Alexa will let you know before you confirm.
Order a Lyft
You can also schedule a Lyft. Just enable the Lyft skill and say, “Alexa, ask Lyft for a ride.”
Quarterback your connected home
It wasn’t long after the Amazon Echo’s debut that Alexa started showing off her smart home chops. The first trick Amazon unveiled was compatibility with Belkin WeMo smart switches and Philips Hue connected LED lights. You can sync all of them up with your Echo, then tell Alexa to turn things on and off.
Change the color of your lights
Like the Philips Hue, the Lifx is a color-changing smart LED that works with the Echo system. Activate the Lifx Skill in the Alexa app, and you’ll be able to tell Alexa to turn your bulbs on or off, dim them up and down or change them to a specific color.
Add more gadgets
It seems like everyone wants to get in on what Echo is doing. Even the otherwise HomeKit-exclusive iDevices gadgets like the Switch, Socket and Thermostat have an iDevices Skill for Alexa.
Control your garage
If you’re looking to get a little more creative with your smart home gadgetry, try out something like Garageio. Echo can connect with this device to tell you if you’ve left your garage door open. You can even say, “Alexa, tell Garageio to close my garage door,” and she will.
See who’s knocking
You can also go for a smart doorbell, like Skybell. Using the Skybell skill, you can record video when someone approaches the door, take a snapshot or set the away mode.
Lock the doors
Want an extra measure of security? Alexa can lock your August Smart Lock for you. Right now, it still can’t unlock it for security reasons. But if you’re just locking up for the night, it’s nice to be able to say, “Alexa, ask August to check my front door.”
Help secure your home
Sync an Amazon Echo up with the Scout Security System and you’ll be able to use Alexa to arm and monitor your home security setup.
Control your climate
Once you’re in your house, you want the atmosphere to be perfect. The first step is climate control. Alexa can adjust the temperature on Ecobee thermostats, the Honeywell Lyric and Nest. Just say, “Alexa, set the temperature to 71.”
Keep it breezy
Want a little more air circulation? Alexa can also control your Haiku fans. You can say, “Turn on the living room fan,” or, “Turn the speed of the living room fan to 50 percent.”
Control your Insteon smart home gear
Amazon Echo features native connected home support for Insteon smart home gear. That includes connected lights, outlets and smart switches — you can turn all of it on and off by telling Alexa to do it.
Manage your SmartThings setup
SmartThings is another connected home platform that works with the Echo. Make the connection, and Alexa will be able to manage a veritable plethora of SmartThings-compatible gadgets.
Work with Wink
The Wink platform works with Echo, too — that’s three major smart-home platforms that all claim compatibility with the Echo.
Trigger your IFTTT recipes…
Alexa also has her own channel on the free online automation service IFTTT. Activate it, and you’ll be able to link Echo up with any of the hundreds of products and services that work with IFTTT. You’ll even be able to craft your own custom voice commands.
…Or try Yonomi
For even more integrations, check out the IFTTT-like app Yonomi. Alexa can now control even more apps and gadgets without an official Skill in place for it.
Make phone calls
Then there’s the smart-home phone system Ooma. With a new Amazon Echo integration, you’ll be able to make calls straight from the speaker.
Explore all the skills
Part of what makes Alexa such a compelling platform is its open approach to content creation. This means a ton of developers have made great Skills you can take advantage of.
Check out showtimes
Say you want to see a movie. You can ask Alexa for showtimes at theaters nearby. You can even get her to describe some of the movies showing if you don’t recognize the titles.
Keep tabs on your car
So there’s a movie showing in 10 minutes, and you can’t remember if your significant other said they filled up the gas in the car or not. One of Alexa’s many Skills syncs it up with the Automatic car-tracking gadget, which plugs into your vehicle’s diagnostic port to keep track of gas mileage, engine trouble and your car’s location. Just ask Alexa, and she’ll let you know how much gas is in the tank.
Check your accounts
The last step is, you need to check your bank account. Using a pin code for security reasons, you can check your balances anytime via Amazon Echo.
Get some help
The Therapy Skill is a fun way to unwind after Alexa tells you how much money is in your bank account. Tell Alexa you’re feeling sad, and she’ll give you insightful nuggets like, “Don’t be sad. Turn that frown upside down!”
A TV critic on call
Just because you’re staying in for the night doesn’t mean you can’t watch a movie. Alexa can tell you what’s showing on TV with various Skills. You can even see what Redbox has to offer.
Play some games
If you decide to forego the movie, Alexa can entertain you instead. A few choose-your-own-adventure-style games are available anytime — like The Wayne Investigation.
Get some exercise
If you decide to do something a little more active, Alexa can help, too. The 7-Minute Workout Skill will guide you through a quick exercise routine to burn those calories from the pizza.
Track your progress
You can also connect Alexa to your Fitbit for updates on your exercise progress. Just ask how many steps you’ve taken today, or how you slept last night.
Learn new things
If you want a little exercise for your brain, you can find games like Spelling Bee, Movie Trivia and 20 Questions on the Skills store.
Settle in for the night
Once you’re ready to sleep, just put on your favorite music, podcast or book, and tell Alexa to go to sleep after reading for 30 minutes.
And a whole lot more
There’s a whole host of other smart home gadgets that’ll work with the Echo — including several that showed off their integrations at CES this year.