Note: We receive a commission for purchases made through the links on this site. Our sponsors, however, do not influence our editorial content in any way.
- The Good
- Easily syncs with Kindle, Spotify, and Amazon libraries
- Supports a variety of home automation devices
- Voice differentiation
- Teach Echo "skills"
- The Bad
- Cannot read or send email or text messages
- Speaker struggles with bass distortion at high volumes
The Amazon Echo is, at its core, a wireless speaker. However, with its Bluetooth speaker, smart home hybrid system and Alexa voice assistant, the Amazon Echo transcends its basic functions as a wireless speaker and becomes an interactive hub for your home. The abilities of the Amazon Echo and Alexa-powered devices continue to expand, creating a powerful home device network that can be used to control everything from your musical selections to your sprinklers.
In order to activate the Alexa voice command system, you will need to download the app from iTunes or Google Play. The Alexa voice command app is free to download. Additionally, you will need access to WiFi in order to set up the Amazon Echo as well as use its many features, so your monthly internet service provider bill should also be factored into the cost of this device. You will also need an Amazon account in order to use the Echo. Setting up an Amazon account is free, and the site offers a premier membership called “Amazon Prime”, which is a $99 annual fee. The benefits of Amazon Prime include free shipping on Prime products as well as access to exclusive deals and products before non-members.
- Control Integration
- Voice control
- Optional remote
- Voice differentiation for multiple users
An optional microphone-equipped remote can be purchased for $29.99 to control the volume and voice commands for those who are accustomed to a more traditional remote control. The device can also be easily integrated with home security, lighting, home theater, and other smart home devices. This is unique to the Amazon Echo, as other wireless speaker systems do not have the capability to integrate these services seamlessly.
- Compatible Products
- Smart Things
- Other home automation devices
The Amazon Echo can host an ever growing list of apps and smart features to become an automation hub within your home. The Echo works with If This Then That (IFTTT), Samsung Smart Things, Wink and several other smart home automation devices. This allows you to potentially control your lighting, home theater, security system and thermostat using the Echo and its supported products.
- Additional Features
- Teach Echo new skills
- Get answers to questions
- Order items from Amazon
- Stream music
The Alexa voice command system is packed with information. It is a unique perk to owning the Amazon Echo speakers, as this voice command system is able to do some very futuristic tasks. If you were in the kitchen, you’d be able to set timers for food that is cooking, read recipes step by step, make conversions from ounces to grams, and stream your favorite cooking music for inspiration. Alexa can also complete third-party skills, where you train her to conduct a late-night trivia game with your friends or order a pizza for delivery. The Alexa voice command system is an additional feature that sets the Amazon Echo apart from its competitors.
Amazon Echo: User Reviews
How Does Amazon Echo Work?
The Amazon Echo arrives with a user’s guide on how to set up the device, sync it with your WiFi and libraries and use the voice command system. You will want to place your Amazon Echo in a central location and approximately eight inches away from walls or windows to prevent unnecessary echo from these barriers. You do not need to limit the Echo to your living room; it will work in any room of your home.
The first thing to do is to download the Alexa app using iTunes, Google Play or the Amazon Appstore. You can also choose to download the app from your WiFi-enabled computer. Plug in the Echo to a power outlet and you will begin to see the light ring on the device turn blue, then orange. At this point, the device will greet you. You will next need to follow the enclosed directions to connect your Amazon Echo to your WiFi network. Once these steps are completed, you are ready to begin using both the Echo and Alexa’s voice command system.
To get started, you will need to say Alexa’s “wake word,” which will “wake up” the device and let it know that you are giving it a command. You can choose it to remain as “Alexa”, or set it to “Amazon” or “computer” to begin using your voice to identify commands.
Using Alexa’s voice command system on the Amazon Echo is quite easy to learn and manipulate. Begin your command with “Alexa” and follow with what you would like the device to do. If you would like to listen to a specific song or album, request this from Alexam, and shortly thereafter, your Amazon Echo speakers will be playing the song or album you’ve requested.
What Makes the Amazon Echo Stand Out?
There are many wireless, Bluetooth-enables speakers on the market. However, what makes the Amazon Echo stand out is Alexa’s voice command system. The abilities of Alexa far surpass competitors in the wireless speaker market, as this voice command system is able to build skills such as ordering a Lyft or Uber, ordering food or working with smart home devices. The capabilities of Alexa’s operating system are continuously evolving and advancing, with new “skills” being added often to the app.
Common Review of the Amazon Echo
The majority of reviewers highly praise the Amazon Echo for its ease of use and setup as well as its futuristic capabilities. The Echo has been highly rated by PC Mag, a leading technology source, and was even given its Editor’s Choice Award. Customers agree that the speaker’s performance, as well as the intuitive features of the Alexa app, make the Amazon Echo a must-have purchase for their homes.
Is Amazon Echo For Me?
If you are a tech-savvy guru who wants everything in your home to be controlled by one device, the Amazon Echo is a great product for your high-tech lifestyle. If you are someone who struggles to program your DVR but you want to seem as if you’ve mastered technology, then the ease of the Amazon Echo is also for you. Many reviewers have noted that if they have physical disabilities or limitations, the Amazon Echo has been a game-changer for how they are able to comfortably live in their homes. The voice command system allows people to set timers for medications, order rides and food and turn on lights without having to move across their home.