Amazon Echo is a $179 cylindrical device you can put in your home or office and it acts as a sort of personal assistant… sort of. It can be activated by using your voice. Despite the name of the device, the word used to activate it is “Alexa” (can also be changed to “Amazon,” which frankly just feels strange). To me this feels like a misstep in branding. If you’re going to call your product one thing, I’d expect to use the same name to activate it. You can ask Alexa things like what events are on your calendar (if you use Google Calendars), weather reports, traffic reports, control certain types of devices like philips hue lights, Belkin WeMo products, buy products on Amazon (shocking, right?) and a small handful of other features.
But why? I can do all those things better from my smart phone.
Echo doesn’t communicate with other audio systems so if you want to play music from other devices, you’re going to be out of luck. The audio quality is good, but nothing close to any product made by Bose or Beats.
The big issue I had with Echo is a constant feeling of limited function. Music was the biggest example of where this was an issue. I use iTunes and Spotify. Echo talks to neither. You can upload your iTunes collection to Amazon, but if you plan on uploading more than 250 songs, be prepared to pay an extra premium for that ability. This process is anything but simple and it if you use Apple Music, it won’t upload any of those songs.
After a month of playing with this device I am still asking myself the same question that I asked after taking it out of the box: “Why do I need this?” While this initial product is a total flop in my book, it may set up Amazon for an amazing second or third generation once/if this product becomes more open source.
The concept isn’t bad… it’s just far from perfect in terms of execution.
Amazon Echo want’s to be Rosie from “The Jetsons,” but it ends up being more like Bender from “Futurama.”
Amazon Echo retails for $179 and can be purchased HERE via Amazon.com