What is Amazon Echo (And is it All it’s Cracked Up to Be?)


What is Amazon Echo? When Amazon’s Echo first made its debut, it wasn’t impressive. It was Amazon’s third attempt at creating something groundbreaking in the tech world and, as we all know, the Fire Phone was pretty awful and there wasn’t anything special about Fire TV. When Amazon first advertised Echo as a wireless speaker, it sounded essentially like a glorified smart music player. In fact, it initially was just that. It connected with Amazon’s music service and allowed you to play songs via voice command by asking “Alexa,” Amazon’s cloud-based voice system. All other features were limited. While you could request the current temperature outside or ask a fairly basic, fact-based question (like “how many centimeters are in an inch?”), that was about as hard as Alexa’s brain could work.

But then, Amazon started beefing up the Echo. It even created an Alexa Skills Kit, where developers could create voice-driven capabilities for Alexa. For example, you can integrate your sprinkler system with Echo so you can change the schedule of when your lawn is watered. Providers and developers have taken full advantage of this kit and have created some amazing integrations, tying together just about any home automation device, including lights and air conditioning.

I think it’s pretty obvious where I’m going, here. The Amazon Echo just might be all it’s cracked up to be (and more, since the bar was low from the start). Let’s take a look at some specific Echo features:

Amazing Sound

The Echo has both an incredible voice and hearing capabilities. With seven microphones and beam-forming technology, Echo can hear you across the room, even if there is noise from music. And with an expertly tuned speaker, you can fill your entire room with glorious rock and roll.

A Bigger Brain

Let’s just say that Alexa’s brain has expanded over the past year. You can ask more technical questions, check the score of a sports game, find out tomorrow’s weather forecast, and more. And Alexa’s brain continues to grow everyday the more you use Echo. The device adapts to your speech patterns and personal preferences.

A Wake Word

While Echo works 24/7, Alexa does take a nap to recharge her batteries. But, even if she is asleep, Echo begins working again the minute you say the “wake” word. Right now you can pick “Alexa” or “Amazon” as your wake word. This is great because it means Echo knows when you’re talking to it and when you’re talking to someone else in the room.

Amazon Echo is continuing to improve and I would expect a second generation in the near future with even more features.

Photo by: MjZ Photography

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Jeff is a tinkerer. He loves gadgets, but usually waits until the reviews are out before buying something. He loves the DIY projects, and loves help setting things up too. Some of his favorite products and services may not be the most well known, but he loves his custom solution.