There was a time when gadgets would mostly serve a simple purpose. Today, you’ve got a whole range of “Smart” devices which allow you to perform a bunch of additional tasks; easing up your life by tenfold. You can get smartphones, smart TVs, smart locks, smart bulbs, and of course, smart speakers. In this article, we’ll tell you all about Amazon’s lineup of smart Alexa speakers, i.e. the Amazon Alexa Echo range, in order to help you pick the right one for yourself.
Amazon has been, for a longer time now, a pioneer in modern technology. Alexa is a wise example of it. Another Alexa powered device is Amazon Fire Stick – Make your TV Smart. You can watch new movies and live TV on Amazon Firestick. It is not much expensive also, you can always opt for a normal HD TV and make it smart using the Fire Stick.
In case you’re unaware, smart speakers enable you to control the other gizmos in your life by means of voice controls that are fed into the speakers. These voice commands are given to artificial intelligence (AI) which basically work like personal assistants.
Before we give you a lowdown on the variants, let’s get to know a bit more about Alexa and the Echo.
What is Amazon Alexa?
Alexa is Amazon’s virtual/digital assistant (equivalent of Siri, in Apple products) that is built in the cloud and can perform a wide array of tasks such as set reminders, play music, solve math problems, make calls, increase/decrease your air con’s temperature, turn on/off lights, read you an audiobook, and tons more. Pretty futuristic eh?
Alexa acclimatizes to your linguistic patterns so all you’ve got to do is say “Alexa” as the wake word, followed by what you want it to do and it’ll do it for you. Note that most of the devices with Alexa built into them have an omnidirectional microphone so no matter where you are in the room, Alexa will be able to hear your command.
I’ll give you detailed information on all of Alexa’s skills further down in this article or you can check out the developer say on the official Amazon Alexa site itself but first, finish the Alexa echo review you started.
What is Alexa Echo?
For those of you who are unaware, the Amazon Echo is the original Alexa speaker which was launched back in 2015 in the U.S. However, it was soon discontinued and replaced by a new, shorter Echo. The Amazon Alexa Echo family of speakers is one of the major rivals of Google Home.
Currently, the Alexa Echo is available in 80 other countries across Asia, Europe, and Latin America. It is hands-free and is connected to Amazon’s AI – Alexa which response to the “wake word” Alexa, which can later be altered to either “Amazon”, “Echo”, or “Computer”, whichever you prefer.
What Can Alexa Echo Do?
Every Echo device has its own set of selling points and design specs. However, they all allow you to do certain things in common, like give an account of the weather by means of AccuWeather, update you on the latest news from several sources including BBC, NPR, and ESPN, play music through your Amazon Music accounts including from services like Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora, set timers, make shopping and to-do lists, integrate with other smart home gadgets from brands such as Philips, Wink, and Insteon, answer random questions, and many more.
Alexa & Echo: Echo Vs Echo Dot Vs Echo Plus – A Brief Comparison
Before diving into the differences, let’s take a quick look at the similarities:
- They can stream music using Wi-Fi.
- You can connect all of them to an external speaker.
- They’re all compatible with Smart Home connected devices.
- They have a far-field voice recognition system.
- They are equipped with Alexa calling and messaging.
Now, the dissimilarities:
The second generation Alexa Echo retails for $99.99 and comes in various attractive colors namely Charcoal, Heather Gray, Silver finish, Oak finish, Sandstone, and Walnut finish. However, this might differ from country to country. It’s about 5.8” tall with a 2.5” woofer and a 0.6” tweeter.
Echo has dual speakers powered by Dolby and the entire device weighs around 0.8 Kg. The Echo is built-in with all the Alexa skills and sounds slightly better than the Echo Dot. If you can spend a little extra for a better sound, this should be your pick.
2. Echo Dot
This Amazon Alexa Echo variant is our personal favorite and you’ll soon find out why. Firstly, you can get it for as little as $50. Secondly, even at half the price, it performs all the tasks that the Echo can. Thirdly, even though doesn’t sound awesome by itself, you do not have to compromise on sound as it can be connected to your existing music system via Bluetooth or aux cable. And lastly, it is super compact (only about 3.3” in diameter).
If you’re a little tight on budget or simply wish to add an extra Alexa device to your room, the Echo Dot is your best bet.
3. Echo Plus
The Echo Plus retails for $150 and has a built-in Smart Home hub that can connect to other smart hubs through the ZigBee antenna, the antenna is built into the speaker. It is useful if you already have a bunch of Smart Home products such as the Philips Hue lights, smart locks, smart sensors, etc.
The Alexa Echo Plus eliminates the need for buying a hub to convert the ZigBee signal for your Wi-Fi router. If you’re looking to automate your home completely and want a single Hub for all your smart home devices, then this is the Echo device to go for.
Where to Buy Them?
Initially, you could buy the Echo range only by invite. However, now, in order to buy any of the Amazon Echo devices, you simply need to log onto Amazon.com (or the domain name that is apt for where you live) and proceed with your purchase as you would for any other product on the site. You may choose a color and opt for add-ons such as a protection plan or a case.
You can also get them at other retail stores such as BestBuy, eBay, and Target (in the U.S.) or check at your local electronics shop.
How to Use Amazon Alexa Echo Devices?
Getting started on using your Alexa Echo device is fairly easy. But before you begin with the set-up, make sure that you’re connected to a stable Wi-Fi connection and have an Amazon account. Then, just follow the steps mentioned below:
- Connect your Echo device to a power source, and switch it on.
- Download and launch the Alexa app (available on both, iOS & Android phones). If you’re using a computer/laptop, log onto alexa.amazon.com from any browser and sign-in.
- Once you’ve signed in, make sure that your Alexa Echo device is connected to your Wi-Fi.
- Say the wake-word, “Alexa”, followed by your command or question. Here’s a link to a few samples that you can ask Alexa.
- Note that in order to activate a third-party Alexa skill, you’ll need to first pick a skill from amazon.com/skills, pick the one you want to enable, and then choose the “Enable skill” option. Alternatively, you could just ask Alexa to add new skills.
Aside from some of the general functions mentioned above, Alexa has over 25,000 skills that you can discover either on the Alexa mobile app or on the Amazon website, under “Alexa skills”. These are created by expert developers and are sorted under a slew of categories like Business & Finance, Communication, Education & Reference, Food & Drink, Games, Health & Fitness, Music & Audio, Watch Movies & TV, Local, Lifestyle, News, Smart Home, Utilities, Weather, Humor, and Travel. An important thing to note is that which skill works and which doesn’t, will vary from place to place.
To give you a few examples; Amazon Alexa can book an Uber, order food, lock your doors, open recipes, launch games, read you a speech, etc. To boot, it also has the ability to monitor your credit card balance, get movie recommendations, check stock prices, give you out-of-the-box marketing ideas, track your car’s status (fuel level, location, etc.) via its “Automatic” skill, start/stop workout routines, track your diet, and research for future trips using skills such as “Kayak”.
We hope that this article has been useful in helping you to decide on an Amazon Alexa Echo device. In case you have other questions, please do leave a comment down below. We’d be happy to assist!