Amazon Echo joins the household

My husband is a tech-geek. He loves the tech gadgets. He has a 3D printer and all sorts of other stuff – much of it I am not sure what it is or why we have it. So when Amazon introduced the Amazon Echo back in November, he wanted one. But they were doing it by lottery. When they draw your name, you have 7 days to purchase your Amazon Echo. If you have Prime it is $99 (limited time offer). If you don’t, it costs $199.

Finally, in January, he got notice that it would be here in February. It arrived in a rather unassuming little brown box.

What is an Amazon Echo?

IMG_2955An Amazon Echo is a 9 1/4” tall black cylinder device that works with voice recognition. Think of it as a virtual home assistant. You can ask it for information, music, news, weather and even a joke. As soon as you use the wake word – your choices are Alexa or Amazon – the device is ready to answer your question. (Note you must have an Internet Connection to use the Amazon Echo as it stores its information on a cloud. It also must be plugged into a power source.)

Some things you can say to your Amazon Echo:

Set an alarm for eight a.m.

What is the weather like?

Play the Indiana Jones theme.

Add “shampoo” to my shopping list.

Play “Susan’s favorites” playlist

Add “Fix the shower” to my to-do list

You can stream music from Spotify, iTunes, Pandora as well as Amazon Music, Prime Music and iHeartRadio. (The sound quality is excellent and you can adjust the volume by just issuing a command.) You can even access your shopping or to do lists via your mobile phone or tablet.

Reviews

Before we decided to buy one, we checked several independent sites for reviews. Most of them were pretty positive. And the good thing is the Amazon Echo continually learns and expands what it knows so hopefully it will only get better.

Our experience

One of the first things we had to do is change the wake word for our Amazon Echo. It comes defaulted to “Alexa” but that is Lexie’s name so we had to go with the only other choice it allows – Amazon. That means if we ever use the word Amazon, the device turns on. And yes, that has come up in a conversation in front of the Amazon Echo.

The kids enjoy asking our Amazon Echo to tell them a joke.

Has our Amazon Echo gotten a lot of use? Well the first few days yes. It was the “new” item of the house. But as time goes by we don’t use it that often. There are times it can’t answer a question or misunderstands what you say. Using Siri on our iPhone is sometimes faster.

For $99, it is a cool device. I am not sure I would pay $200 for it.

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