Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo connects to Alexa-a cloud-based voice service-to play music, make calls, set alarms and timers, ask questions, check your calendar, weather, traffic and sports scores, manage to-do and shopping lists, control compatible smart home devices, and more.Check out the video below to see the wide range of things Echo can do.

  • Alexa, what's the weather like

  • Alexa, add an event to my calendar

  • Alexa, what's in the news

  • Alexa, when is next Liverpool game

  • Alexa, what time is it in New York

  • Alexa, what is 5 kg in lbs

  • Alexa, set an alarm for 8am

  • Alexa, set pizza time for 20 minutes

  • Alexa, play BBC Radio Ulster

  • Alexa, play me music by Hugo Duncan

  • Making calls

  • Controlling Smart Home

One of the questions that always comes up is wondering what is the difference between an Echo, an Echo dot or what is an Alexa.

From what I have gathered, Echo is the physical unit that sits on your desk or counter and Alexa is the software or the person that you speak to.

 

The Echo stands by waiting for you to call it by saying the “wake” word. This comes as standard programmed as Alexa but can be changed to Echo, Amazon or Computer. Once you say the wake word she wakes up and awaits the next command. For those worrying about being listened to they say on standby that it is only listening for the wake word but if you are worried then it's maybe not for you and your money may be better spent on tinfoil hats!

 

At the moment there are 4 different Echo devices. The smallest/cheapest device is the Echo Dot. This does the same as the larger Echo but the sound is not as good. I have the larger Echo in my bedroom as I like to listen to the radio in bed then I have the Echo dots in other rooms in the house. We have a dot in the kitchen and use it for the radio so while it's not as good the Echo it is still more than adequate.

The Echo plus has a built-in hub to control smart home devices that previously needed a separate hub such as Smart things or nest. This might be the way to go if you're going to turn your whole home smart with bulbs, cameras, thermostat etc but otherwise, there seem to be more cost-effective ways to achieve a usable level of smartness.

 

The Echo show is now available in the UK and looks promising. You will be able to drop in and check via the webcam what is going on or use it with a video-enabled doorbell to see who is at the door. Skype-style video calls are the main attraction of this one and it could be invaluable from a piece of mind point of view.

 

© 2018 by Gareth Rowan

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