One of the most revolutionary gadgets to come out of the 21st century is Amazon Echo. This hands-free smart speaker became available to Amazon Prime members in late 2014, and has soared in popularity ever since.
Its popularity is largely due to its personal assistant service, Alexa Voice. With Alexa, users can schedule appointments, set alarms, answer questions, and play their favorite music from anywhere in their home.
You may be wondering, however, what exactly can Alexa Voice (and Amazon Echo) do? Is it worth buying? Here are some pros and cons of this device to better help you decide whether this device is worth the investment.
Who Should Get Amazon Echo?
If you like the idea of having a smart appliance you can command to play your favorite songs, turn on the lights in your home, set reminders, or answer questions you may have, then Amazon Echo is for you.
Amazon Echo frees you from constantly using your smartphone, and gives you full control over performing certain tasks. It’s like having your own personal assistant! Echo lets you access Alexa’s features without needing to use an app or screen—the app that Alexa does have is mostly used for setup and configuration.
You can also control Alexa-compatible devices and smart-home hubs like SmartThings and Wink with an Echo, which can help make access them more convenient for you.
How Does Alexa Work?
Alexa relies heavily on Amazon Echo’s sensitive microphones, allowing it to quickly respond to any questions or commands.
When you ask Alexa to do something, Echo streams your voice to the cloud, and these commands show up on the app. If you want, you can delete them as many of these requests as you want directly on there.
Activating Alexa is also pretty cool. All you do is say “Alexa” out loud before you request something. You can also change this name to “Echo,” “Amazon,” or “Computer.” When it’s listening to your voice, a blue light appears at the top and beams to Amazon’s cloud computers to fulfill your request.
Alexa Voice comes with various benefits that make your life a little more interesting (and less stressful). Echo has effective speakers that can fill an entire room with loud audio, making it a great device for small reunion parties or get-togethers.
Besides playing music, Alexa can give you reports on the news, traffic, sports and other events around the world. It also:
- Pairs well with Bluetooth, connecting to the feature within 30 seconds
- Contains a voice training feature that lets it recognize different voices within your home
- Allows you to control the lights and thermostats in your home (these need to be smart appliances that are compatible with Alexa)
- Constantly updates with better, convenient features, such as ordering pizza and booking Uber
- Sets alarms and timers for the time you want
- Gives you the option to use a remote control, which can work from 20-30 feet away
It’s a great tool for handicapped individuals since it’s hands-free and can be accessed fully through voice control. You also don’t need to pay a monthly subscription or an annual fee to use all of these cool features.
Now that we’ve talked about the good things, it’s time to focus on the bad. There are a couple of downsides with Amazon Echo (and Alexa Voice) and these include:
- A lack of visual input (no maps for navigation, for example) unless you buy the model with a screen.
- Alexa Voice only supports three overall languages: English, German, and Japanese. (Within the English language, Alexa offers specific support for five dialects/accents: Australia, Canada, India, UK and US.)
- Amazon Echo is not a portable device, unfortunately (it must be plugged in to work)
- For now, Alexa can only answer factual questions (it can’t give life advice, unfortunately!)
- You always need to repeat its name “Alexa” before saying a request
- Echo’s speakers are good for small parties but you may need to buy separate speakers for bigger events (Sonos speakers now come with built-in Alexa if more “boom” is what you prefer)
Depending on your personal preferences, these downsides may or may not be the dealbreaker in your interest of Amazon Echo.
Amazon Echo, with its Alexa Voice system, can be a handy device for those users who want a little help in their daily routine. It’s an assistant that can perform basic functions and the most mundane tasks, just by saying the name “Alexa.” Of course, you may feel it’s you don’t really need it since an average smartphone can perform some of these tasks in less than a minute!
However, the device really does shine for those who would rather not rely on their phones for simple tasks. It also provides help for handicapped individuals who may find Amazon Echo more convenient and faster to use.
All in all, it’s best to take in the pros and cons of Amazon Echo with its features before making a decision. By weighing your options, you may just have a new little personal assistant in your home soon!
Smart lighting is another recent tech gadget that’s becoming more popular. Check out our blog, Smart Lighting: Everything You Need to Know for more information on smart light devices.