Already Great, Should Get Even Better Over Time About Amazon Echo

So count me as one of the skeptics who thought this thing was a big gimmick. Maybe it was just a gimmick when it first came out in 2014. But it is now December 2016 and I ordered this for the Black Friday discount and wow, what an awesome surprise this thing has been.

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1) Out of the box, it integrated with my Logitech Harmony Hub. I didn’t even know it could do this. Let me tell you that Alexa and Harmony go together like peanut butter and jelly. While it does not yet have all of the features I would like, it is already awesome to say the least. Here is what I can do:

Alexa, turn on the TV. (Alexa tells Harmony to start the Watch TV activity, which powers on TV, cable box, A/V receiver, sets all correct inputs, etc.)
Alexa, turn on the Chromecast
Alexa, turn on the Fire TV
Alexa, turn on the DVD.
Alexa, turn on ABC.
Alexa, turn on Disney Channel.
You get the idea. It just does what I tell it.

2) Its integration with Amazon Prime Music is great. And it works right out of the box if you are already an Amazon Prime subscriber. Here are the types of things I can do with Amazon Prime Music:

Alexa, play some country music
Alexa, turn up the volume
Alexa, stop the music
Alexa, turn on some Christmas music
Alexa, play some Kenny Chesney
Alexa, play some Barry Manilow
Alexa, stop the music. You know I hate Barry Manilow!

3) My kids have fun with it. This is where the gimmick part comes in. Alexa can tell them jokes or answer some basic questions like:

Alexa, tell me a joke
Alexa, tell me a knock knock joke
Alexa, when do the Philadelphia Eagles play again?
Alexa, who won the Philadelphia Eagles game?
Alexa, what will the weather be like today?
Alexa, you’re pretty cool 
Alexa, you’re beautiful 
Alexa, what’s your favorite color? 
Alexa, what is 52 factorial?

You get the idea.

Here are things where there is room for improvement: Discount codes for amazon

1) With the Harmony integration, I would like to be able to have more granular control. Presently, I cannot tell Alexa to change the volume of my A/V receiver, or channel up, channel down, bring up program guide, return to previous channel, record a program, etc. The functionality is limited.

2) It is not integrated with the Amazon Fire TV. This seems like a bit of a no-brainer to me as both devices are manufactured and sold by Amazon, and they are both sitting on the same local network. Alexa should be able to tell the Fire TV to play some country music, for example, and have it play from the Amazon Prime music collection. With a thousand watts of awesomeness in my home theater connected to the Fire TV, you think I really want to hear music from the Amazon Echo’s little speaker? Come on! Voice command would be like, “Alexa, play some country music on the Fire TV” or “Alexa, tell the Fire TV to play some country music”. Personally, I think they should enable “Alexa tell the…” because then you can use that voice command structure with any smart device in your home…like “Alexa, tell the Harmony to turn up the volume” 

3) The artificial intelligence could learn more natural language, so that no matter how you phrase your command, it will understand it. This already frustrates my wife because she has not yet figured out the precise language to use to get Alexa to do things.

Other thoughts:

With a 2-year head start on Google Home and integration with Amazon Prime Music for the millions of Prime subscribers, Amazon Echo is the king of smart homes right now. Add in the fact that you can add on Amazon Dots all over the house for $50 each. I also just bought the Google Home and unfortunately, in its current state, the Google Home is just a gimmick for me as it does not integrate with the Harmony hub. I don’t have any other smart devices like lights, switches, etc. in the house.

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