Amazon has launched a new hands-free intercom support for the Amazon Echo, Echo Show, and Echo Dot. Using Alexa, a user can now grab the attention of the people in a room that has another Echo device to inform them someone is at the door or the dinner is ready.
Impetus to better Prime Music
Echo app needs work
Lacklustre sound quality
Caters to Prime
The Amazon Echo is warming up for the biggest upgrade – a camera and a touch screen. The new device is named Amazon Echo Show, and it will be the next evolution of Amazon’s smart speaker.
So what does Amazon Echo Show mean for the original Amazon Echo? It actually means a lot. As it is now some of the new functionality coming with Amazon Echo Show will also be coming to the original Echo. The functionality includes messaging and voice calling – two important features that Amazon Echo has really needed since its outset.
We had time to converse with Alexa, the personal assistant built into the $179 Amazon Echo. Though we didn’t have a deep conversion in the first time, but it was fun because we were able to ask Alexa some stupid questions.
As the month went on, our conversation got deeper as the Amazon team has added more functionality. Alexa could tell you how you are already late for a meeting and tell you sporting scores.
It was not much longer before Alexa could play our favorite podcasts, read audiobooks and control some other devices around the house. Just recently, Amazon took out Alexa to teach her about local businesses. You can now ask Alexa when the grocery store closes or where you should go for Chinese food. In fact, Alexa can now play music from other services like Spotify or Pandora other than Amazon Prime.
With all these, we have seen the Amazon Echo grow up to a semi-intelligent AI. We have used different products like Xboxs or iPods in the past, but this is the first time we have seen something evolve to the extent that it doesn’t need a guiding hand.
We have now spent with Amazon Echo, and it is clear that it is something you don’t know you want until you have it. It is also something you don’t miss until it is gone.
Amazon Echo Design
Amazon Echo for a portable dehumidifier. It is 9.25 x 3.27-inch cylindrical shape and all matte black exterior which gives it the kind of camouflage you would expect from an appliance.
Amazon Echo is also different from other portable speakers because it’s not that portable. You need to plug it in and connect it to Wi-Fi at all times.
Plugging it in always makes sense because it uses an always-on microphone and it should not run out of power. Also, how would it send voice to Amazon servers if it is not connected to the internet? It’s absolutely not possible.
On top of its canister are two buttons, listen and mute, while the ring rotates to increase or decrease the volume. If you are worried about its regular controls (forward and backward, pause, play), don’t. The Amazon Echo comes with a traditional remote control that is similar o the one that comes with the Amazon Fire TV, or you can simply control it from your phone via Amazon Echo App.
Talking about the App, it isn’t the most fleshed-out companion app we have ever used. I found a few of the selections useful – controlling radio stations with the app is not as painful as asking Alexa to do it.
Along the bottom of the Amazon Echo, there is a 360-degree speaker grille that surprisingly gives it some room-filling sound with a small Amazon white logo.
Though Echo can crank the volume, but the quality of its sound near the upper and lower limits leaves so much to be desired.
We tested it in two different environments: a larger 20 x 15 ft living room and a small 12 x 14 ft bedroom. The small space benefited the quieter volume levels but completely muddled anything above 7. The sound in a larger room flattered at the highest levels of 9 and 10, but it was tough for Alexa to pick commands.
Streaming Music Selection
Now that you know much about the Amazon Echo, you are probably thinking, “what can I play on it?”
The Amazon Echo supports Amazon Prime Music, Pandora in the US, Spotify, and TuneIn. But if you don’t like those, you can still import 250 songs from your personal collection to the cloud for free.
Two years after the release of Amazon Echo….
Echo Alexa has received more updates than Amazon Fire TV, which shows the team of developers really care about feedback.
Though Alexa is still behind Siri regarding what it can do, that might not be the case on Alexa’s third birthday.
The additional information about local businesses is a huge step forward. This showed it is more important to Amazon than anyone have ever thought.
Alexa is still great even though it can’t handle deep questions very well presently. It is better than the Echo we know last year.
Last year, both Siri and Apple’s AI were far smarter than Alexa, but that is not the case anymore. For many people, the $179 Echo is still a novelty, and I don’t expect a change of mind until Alexa can truly understand natural human speech.
Amazon Echo is for anyone in need of Bluetooth speaker, and after using Echo, you won’t like to go back to a run-of-mil speaker. The audio fidelity might not be the factor that will keep Echo on your shelf for long, but Alexa will do.