The Amazon Echo with Alexa home assistant integration is a match made in heaven. It opens the door to anyone interested in what AI is all about.
Amazon Echo surprisingly makes life easier, it’s very intuitive, intelligent and very responsive. You don’t have to shout or say commands twice and it can even make you laugh.
At first, it may seem like a gimmick, but exploring the accompanying Alex app, you can dive into all its features that enable better productivity.
What does the Amazon Echo look like?
The Echo is very simple in design and would fit in well with any interior decor – it’s also available in white or black. It’s cylindrical in shape and looks very snazzy without over complicating things.
Spanning 235mm high and 83.5mm wide, it’s not the biggest at all and underneath its modest size, there’s a reflex port enhancing the 2.5inch woofer underneath it and below the woofer is a 2inch tweeter. With all that inside, it only weighs 1064 grams.
Up top, there’s a ring that sits flush with the rest of the cylindrical speaker. It rotates to control volume which when turned, the blue light illuminates to follow the volume as it increases or decreases.
Amazon Echo’s clean, simple design continues up top with only two buttons available, one for “Actions” and the other to mute the microphone when you don’t want it picking up any commands at all.
Amazon Echo has the easiest setup process thus far:
Setting up your Echo is very straight forward; you just need to plug it in, download the Alexa app via iOS or Android and the rest is history.
It was so easy to setup that I didn’t even realise it was ready, next thing I know I was throwing commands at the Echo for the latest news, football results and playing music via Spotify and TuneIn Radio.
The Alexa app is also very easy to use. On the home page of the app, you get access to all the last few commands and actions completed (which you can also clear for privacy if you like).
Hit the menu button on the top left corner of the screen and you get access to an array of options, but what’s important is to go through each one to see the services available, for example, going into Music & Books will show you a list of integrates apps where you can log in, such as Spotify.
Skills menu is also worth checking out, as this is where you will be able to link your Echo with other IoT or smart home devices and services like Uber.
In Settings, you can update account details, change Echo’s name, add household purchasing powered by Amazon and voice purchasing – don’t worry you can add a pin code so your kids or friends aren’t ordering a box set of a tv series you don’t like.
The ideal Amazon Echo and Alexa assistant scenario, picture this:
Before bed at night, you say, Alexa, turn the light off in an hour’s time, then Alexa, wake me up in 7 hours’ time. An hour later, the lights are off just as you snooze and early in the morning, you’re woken up, all just by using your voice.
There’s more! You wake up, so you ask Alexa what the weather is today, listen to the latest news read to you, tells you how well Arsenal is currently performing and while you get dressed, you ask what your schedule is like today.
Again, all hands-free while you go about your life, now that to me is what the perfect assistant is. Of course, the Echo can do a lot more; you can link it to iFTTT for a full automation setup.
You can link up so many devices like the Philips Hue light system to turn it on/off, you can even connect it to your Spotify to play your favourite playlist or ask for one of its many skills such as a 5 minutes medication first thing in the morning.
Alexa continues to learn more about you the more you use it, making it even more friendly and dedicated to you. It has a lot of microphones built in to make sure it can pick up your voice, no matter how noisy the room is.
The microphones are located under the light ring and they use something Amazon calls a beam-forming technology and enhanced noise cancellation, allowing Amazon Echo to hear you ask a question from any direction.
Let’s not forget, you can even use it to control your thermostat and a 360º omnidirectional audio means you can hear it clearly, thanks to its dual downward-firing speakers – you can even adjust volume using a simple voice command too.
So is the Echo worth it?
The Echo is great for everyone, whether you want to ease yourself into the world of having a voice assistant which also acts as a gateway into Amazon’s echo system, or you are already invested and need a tool to bring everything together to make you look like Batman or Iron Man (although not quite Jarvis yet), it’s great for all and reasonably priced, currently at £129.99.
If you want something cheaper but still want access to Alexa, then you should consider the Echo Dot, its little brother that you can connect to your existing sound system.
If Amazon could change or add anything, it would be the option to further customise things like the opening command name so you’re not stuck with Alexa, Echo or Amazon and give the option to change the voice – I’d like to have Homer Simpson or something that sounds like Jarvis.
The Echo was sent to us by Amazon for a review. All opinion are UNILAD Tech’s. You can find out more about the Echo here on Amazon UK.
I write about all things tech!