Article by Domain Support
Amazon Echo has been out since November 2014, first, by invitation only to Amazon Prime Members and later to the general public. Connectech received one in the spring of 2015 after a long wait. Echo costs $179.99 (plus $29.99 for the remote). Two little sisters, Amazon Tap and Echo Dot, have also been released. You can now make your Echo portable with the Intelligent Battery Base by Mission Power. This short video explains how it works:

 

Should you buy one?  The Amazon Echo is essentially a voice-activated personal assistant for your home. Connectech recommends you do and so does Fortune [1]. Here are some reasons:

(1) Voice activated, hands free, and is probably one of the best voice recognition devices that includes a Blue Tooth speaker.

(2) A Music streaming service that includes Amazon Prime, Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, Audible and Web radio services iHeartRadio and TuneIn.

(3) News Flash service with NPR (more services are on the way).

(4) To Do List, Shopping List, and you can now connect to some Google cloud services such as your calendar.

(5) You can re-order anything from Amazon Prime.

(6) Developers have apps for voice-activated home automation control, such as Belkin’s WeMo unit and Hue light bulbs from Philips. More companies have been added to the list that connect to Echo. [2]

(7) You can ask Echo questions about facts and you may get the answers.

(8) Amazon Echo supports the following services: Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn. For a complete list click here. You can connect Echo to your mobile device (or Bluetooth enabled computer) to play iTunes or other music service by following these directions.

(9) A very pleasant alarm clock you can set by simply saying, ‘Alexa, set alarm at 6 AM.’

While the Amazon Echo hasn’t the intellectual capacity of Hal in 2001, A Space Odyessey, for now it gives Siri, Braina, Google Now, Cortana, S Voice, LG’s Voice Mate, BlackBerry’s Assistant, SILVIA, and HTC’s Hidi a run for their money. Connectech predicts Echo is here to stay and will continue to experience growth. In addition to Echo, the new kid on the block taking on all the intelligent personal assistants is Facebook M.

As David Gewirtz puts it, Echo “can be dumb as rocks sometimes, [however] there are a few things (turning on and off the lighting, basic math, weather) that have provided a level of incremental convenience we’ve rapidly become used to.” David then gives a dozen tips on what to do with Echo. [3] Joe Brown has an in depth article on his experience with Echo. [4] “All virtual assistants feel stuck in that trough between what we can imagine and what technology can actually achieve,” writes Geoffrey A. Fowler in the Wall Street Journal. [5] We have all experienced this when talking to Siri, Google Now, or Cortana. Does than mean we stop using these voice activated personal assistants?  Hardly. And they will  improve. Especially with the competition Amazon is creating with Echo.

Thousands of reviewers have given Amazon Echo a 4.5 star rating. [6]

Brain X Chen, Tech Fix, New York Times, wrote an article, Alexa, What Else Can You Do? Getting More From Amazon Echo worth reading. c/net has an article by Taylor Martin worth reading if you have some issues with Echo, “4 common Amazon Echo problems and how to fix them.”

End Notes

[1] You should probably buy the Amazon Echo by  Stacey Higginbotham, Fortune

[2] Amazon Hints at Smart Home Future Through Echo Device By Greg Bensinger, April 8, 2015, Wall Street Journal Blog

Click here for a complete list of companies connecting to Alexa

[3] A dozen helpful Amazon Echo how-to tips and tricks, by David Gewirtz, May 27, 2015, ZDNet

[4] The Amazon Echo Is More Than a Bluetooth Speaker — It’s a Bedtime Buddy, by Joe Brown, re/code, February 9, 2015

[5] Amazon Echo Review: Talking Helper Alexa Is No Match for Siri by Geoffrey A. Fowler, February 3, 2015, WSJ

[6] Amazon Echo Read the User Reviews at the bottom