In Greek mythology, Echo was the tragic nymph who was cursed to repeat the last words that she heard. When I heard of a product called “Echo” I was naturally dubious of such a product that had a potentially negative connotation. However, I kept an objective perspective, and was curious about a connected internet device. Seeing that it is a device backed by Amazon.com, I proceeded to read up the reviews, and surprisingly it gained quite a bit of a cult following. So I decided to take the plunge.
Now at $179 MSRP on Amazon.com, and solely offered by the website, Amazon Echo is neither the first in its type nor novel in its separate functions. In fact, if you pieced Siri and used a notebook computer in addition, you could piece together all the functionalities. However, the synergism of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts after having owned Amazon Echo for several months now. And no this is not a paid review!
What is Amazon Echo? or Coupons For Amazon 2017
Amazon Echo is in short a high quality speaker coupled with 9 sensitive microphones, connected to the Internet. You speak to it by summoning its name first, “Echo” or “Alexa” alternatively. It is tied into the Amazon.com website, so naturally it can stream music from Prime or your Amazon digital music purchases. In addition, it can answer questions (as random as you would like) by searching the internet real time, and perform also as a timer or alarm. Extra features include being able to interface to a smart automation hub, and able to control lights remotely. Echo is as good as your internet is available, and as long as Amazon is up too.
Unboxing the Echo
The Echo seemed to be sturdily built right from its unboxing. Echo had a matte dark plastic outer shell, along with two buttons on the top. It did not come with too much packaging. Once the power cord was plugged in, a confident female voice started and demanded it be connected to the Internet. This part was the trickiest part, as the Wifi router installation was somewhat complicated. Using a separate computer to connect, Echo was remotely setup through a web interface. This probably took 15 minutes as the first attempt did not work. After not wanting to give up and seeing what all the hubbub was about, finally the blue ring of light flickered on, and a congratulatory confirmation of Internet streaming was announced by Echo. I did choose “Alexa” as its name, as it seem to be more human in tone and use Free Amazon Promo Codes
Alexa (or Echo) was summoned by me almost immediately and I proceeded to sternly ask it several scientific questions, such as “What is the circumference of the Earth?”, or “How far is the distance to the Sun?” Amazingly and instantly, she answered precisely and accurately without hesitation. Undeterred by her possibilities, I proceeded to ask about current events, and was greeted by an NPR news summary of daily events. I then asked it to play a certain genre of music, and this was accomplished by Alexa telling me she chose music out of a million. For the size, the music quality was good without any tinniness to the sound, and a decent amount of bass more than would be expected in this form factor. In order to gain the acceptance of the family, she had to win over the heart of my wife, the protector of the household. My wife, of Taiwanese descent, had a slight accent, and was almost expected Alexa not to understand her uniqueness in her enunciation. Surprisingly, Alexa answered back just as if I, with a native American accent, had said it. Erica my wife was impressed and proceeded to also ask even more questions. Alexa had passed the initial onslaught with flying colors.
Several Months of Observation
In the interim, we have connected Alexa to our home automation system Smart Things (Version 1) and it has worked fairly well. We turn on lights that would require walking across a whole living room. Now, Alexa also allows for grouping of lights, and therefore, it only requires a voice command to turn off all the lights in the house. We use Echo mainly to play Prime music, play news, and operate lighting. We have thanked her for her service, in which she modestly replies with a humble response. It is marketed that she jokes with humor, though computer humor still isn’t as funny as SNL.
Overall, my experience with Amazon Echo has been very positive. It seems to be worth the money, and for a first generation product, it seems to be very well executed. She is like a virtual professional maid but without the snooty attitude. Some things that would be nice include being able to take Echo (wirelessly that is without the power cord), having a longer distance to understand you (seems that 15-20 feet is about her limit), and being able to receive phone calls with Bluetooth. At the moment, these are not in her repertoire. All in all, and the path towards the connected home internet appliance may be closer than you think and you don’t even have to watch a rerun of Star Trek!
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