The Amazon Echo is a voice-activated portable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled speaker that gives you rich sound around the house. It integrates a personal voice assistant named Alexa. Maybe you have heard of popular voice assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Google on your tablet or phone. Well, the Amazon Echo is Amazon’s answer to these voice assistants. It connects to your Wi-Fi to access cloud services and to also communicate with other devices on your network. When Amazon launched the Amazon Echo in November 2014, it was just a speaker for playing music. You could issue commands like: “Alexa, play some Christmas music.” Then it could connect with its cloud sources and fill your house with ambient Christmas sounds.
Over the past several months, Amazon has made significant improvements to the Echo software; it now has a variety of amazing capabilities. Amazon Echo can read audiobooks, play your favorite podcasts, and control other smart devices around your house. It even knows about local businesses around your home; you can ask ‘Alexa’ where to go for grocery shopping, the menu at a particular restaurant, and stream music from services like Spotify or Pandora. It has transformed into a semi-intelligent Artificial Intelligent machine – it is no longer just a Bluetooth music speaker! If you plan on automating your home, the Amazon Echo is a must-have accessory for any smart home. Let’s dive into detailed specifications.
Amazon Echo consists of a 23.5cm tall cylinder speaker with a seven-piece microphone array. Its weight is approximately 26.9 ounces (1045 grams), though it may vary slightly depending on the manufacturing process. The Echo isn’t exactly portable like other portable speakers, as it needs to be plugged in and connected to Wi-Fi at all times. It requires constant power and a connection to the internet to provide you with its intended services.
The Echo has two buttons on the top, for ‘mute’ and ‘listen,’ the top ring rotates to raise or lower the volume. It also comes with a traditional remote for controls like play, pause, forward, and backward. If you would prefer controlling it using your smartphone, there is Amazon Echo App for that purpose. It is even easier using the app to control radio stations than asking Alexa to do it for you. Towards the bottom of the Echo is a 360-degree speaker that fills your room with quality sound.
The Amazon Echo includes an ARM Cortex-A8 processor, with 256MB RAM and 4GB of storage. It has no internal battery. The Echo works with dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. The Alexa app is compatible with Android, Fire OS, and iOS devices and also accessible on the web via a browser. When purchased, the box includes the Amazon Echo, a quick user guide, and a power adapter.
- Constant updates and improvements – Amazon developers are always working hard to bring the best experience to the Amazon Echo cloud service.
- Optional remote control service
- Flawless Bluetooth pairing
- Superb at answering factual questions
- No monthly costs or subscriptions
- Shopping list function- you can add items to your shopping list with ease
- It plays all your music from Spotify, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and Pandora (for US users)
- It can control smart devices in your home – lights, thermostats, switches
- Your reading machine – reads audio books, news, reports traffic and weather conditions, gives you sports scores and schedules, and answers your questions – all using the Alexa Voice service
- You can order Uber Services!
- Great accessory for physically disabled persons – telling the time, setting alarms and schedules, making appointments, making phone calls, starting or pausing and stopping music, controlling the volume
- Jokes – if you are bored, the Echo has some humor for you
- No display to show images, maps, or places – this is in comparison to Google Now, Siri on iPhone, or Cortana on Windows
- Lacks Portability – it doesn’t have a battery, so it has to remain connected to the power line
- Cannot respond to complicated commands
- No multitasking – it cannot do multiple tasks at a time so you cannot give it multiple instructions in a single sentence
- Restricted to answering only factual questions
The Bottom Line
The Amazon Echo is a handy tool for any smart home because of the many functions it brings to the table. The Echo may be able to perform complex tasks, understand complicated instructions, and work with multiple platforms in future as it is continually being updated. Amazon is committed to making the Echo a powerful Artificial Intelligence with its regular updates, so in addition to the already great functionalities it has now, you can be sure of great features in future. We can’t say it doesn’t have some negatives, but it’s always working to get better.