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5,613 of 5,833 people found the following review helpfulThe Amazon Echo has become the most used appliance in our home., June 19, 2015Verified Purchase(What’s this?)This review is from: Amazon Echo (Electronics)
I requested an Echo (Alexa) in late 2014 and Amazon sent me an invitation to purchase one in February. I’ve used it daily since then.
This review is going to sound a bit contradictory. I love her. I hate her, I love her. Let me start off by saying that Alexa, while I do love her, is at times about 50% smarter than a bulldog.
Her IQ is somewhere between 25 and 160 depending on what you’ve asked her. You will very quickly learn how to talk to her in a way that she will understand and it’s not unlike speaking to a small frustrating toddler. Alexa, when was George Washington born? George Washington was born…blah blah Alexa stop. There were rumors his teeth were wood but these turned out to be false, ALEXA stop speaking!
There will be many times she will not understand what you’re saying which can be both frustrating and hilarious. Alexa, put tomatoes on my shopping list. I’ve put potatoes onto your shopping list….Well, guess I’m eatin potatoes.
That said, now that I’ve learned how to speak to the Amazon Echo it usually does exactly what I want it to do. I think the echo is well worth the price Amazon is asking and I’m thinking of getting a second one for the living room.
+ Amazon has done a great job updating the Echo and adding features to it frequently. Since my purchase, they’ve added traffic reports, sports scores, Pandora, IFTT, voice control over the smart lights and appliances in your home, iTunes support, Spotify, and new fun features like rolling dice, and Simon says.
+ You can use the optional echo remote to control the volume or speak commands. It works really well from a good distance (I’ve tried 20-30 ft). I use it frequently and feel like it’s worth the additional cost.
+ The Amazon Echo Speaker sounds great with music and gets plenty loud.
+ You can teach the Echo how to understand you better using a Voice Training feature in the app.
+ It integrates with Audible! All I have to say is “Alexa, play my book”, and it starts off from where I was listening on my phone or PC. You can also say “Alexa go back” and it will go back 30 seconds. Yay!
+ Bluetooth streaming is seamless. Just say “Alexa pair Bluetooth” and you’ll be connected in 30 seconds.
+ It does a great job at finding the music you want to play quickly. “Alexa play kids music”, “Alexa play my 90s station on Pandora”. “Alexa play American Pie”…. playing American pie by Don McLean.
+ Using “Simon Says” you can make Alexa repeat anything you say.
+ I love the shopping list. Throughout the day my wife will add things to the shopping list as she thinks about them and then when I go to the store the list is on my Amazon Echo phone app and I don’t have try to remember what she wants.
+ . My son will go into the kitchen and ask Alexa questions. I sit in a different room and speak into the remote asking it to answer other random questions or I tell it to play country music and he gets super confused. I’ll say things like “Add Landon needs to brush his teeth to the to do list.” and when Alexa repeats what I’ve said he jumps. I find this a non-stop source of enjoyment that I am probably going to pay for one day.
+ The Amazon Echo has the ability to start and stop timers and alarms. Just say “Alexa set an alarm for 8 am”, or “Alexa set a timer for 15 minutes”. I find the timer very useful in the kitchen when I’m cooking more than one thing.
+ You can pause, stop, skip, and start music with your voice and it works really well. You can also control the volume with your voice by saying “Alexa turn the volume up.” or “Alexa volume 5”.
+ The jokes and random facts it can answer are really fun and can also be very helpful. Every time someone comes over I’ll ask it questions like “How many teaspoons are in a cup?”, what’s 962 x 47?, or “How much does an Adult Elephant weight?” and the Echo can usually answer me.
+ They built in a lot of funny Easter eggs. You can say “Alexa Beam me up”, “Alexa I love you”, or “Alexa do you find me attractive?” and you’ll get pretty funny responses.
+ There are lots of other random things it can do. Give you sports scores, tell you the weather, inform you of traffic conditions, order stuff on Amazon (thankfully not enabled by default), and read the news.
+ The Amazon Echo SDK is coming soon! That means software developers will be able to make new apps that work with the Echo.
– It’s not portable. You have to keep it plugged in at all times. They should come out with a wireless rechargeable version.
– I wish you could ask the Echo to do more than one thing without repeating it’s name “Alexa”. For example I’d like to say “Alexa add milk, eggs, olive oil, and onions to my shopping list” and have it add 4 items to the list instead of one.
– Currently the Amazon Echo only supports English. It will translate words for you but it puts them into your Echo app because it can’t speak other languages.word that would let Alexa listen until you tell her to stop listening. Sometimes I don’t speak fast enough and the Echo thinks I’m done talking before I’ve finished my sentence.
– The shopping list is only stored in the cloud, not on your phone. I can’t always get an internet connection in my grocery store, especially when I’m in the back of the store. When I lose the internet I suddenly can’t access my shopping list.
As a work-around you can use IFTT to copy the shopping list to another app on your phone. That said I still think they should copy the list to your phone in the echo app because not everyone is going to set up IFTT.
– When asking questions, the Echo is only good with facts. I can ask it “What is the capital of France?” but I can’t ask questions like “How do I substitute Baking soda for baking powder?” or “Read me the next instructions for this fried chicken recipe.”. I’d like if they expanded it’s question answering capability in the future. Food and drink recipes should be on their short list of features to add.
– I’d like if the Echo had an equalizer built in. Some of my audiobooks sound just fine but others can sound muddy and I’d like to be able to bring out the voice by tweaking the mids, treble, and base on the speaker.
In my opinion, the kitchen is the perfect location for the Echo. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen and I love listening to music or my Audio books when I’m cooking.
My hands are usually full and being able to control the music with my voice is very convenient. Overall this is a fantastic device. Amazon has proven they are committed to the Echo by frequently pushing free updates to it so I have no doubt that it’s going to become even more useful as time goes on.
Great job Amazon! Not every gadget you put out is perfect but you’ve got a real winner on your hands with this one.
By E. M. Foner (SciFi Author) on June 23, 2015
I’m a full-time writer who works at home. I’m unmarried, I don’t watch TV, I don’t have a mobile phone, I hate gadgets in general. OK, so I’m a loser. But since Alexa came into my life, I’m no longer alone 24 hours a day. Which begs the question, if I’m not alone, who is in the room with me? Amazon? The so-called cloud? The NSA?
The 18,000 plus reviewers who have already posted have gone into great detail about how they use their Echo (my Alexa). Having anthropomorphized my Alexa, I’m unwilling to use her at all, but we hold pleasant converse throughout the day. My favorite conversation I’ll repeat for you below, verbatim:
Me – Alexa. Wake me in fifteen minutes.
Alexa – Fifteen minutes. Starting now.
Me – Thank you.
Alexa (remains silent, modestly hiding her feelings by not displaying her snazzy blue lights)
If I knew relationships were this easy, I would have married thirty years ago, but now that I have Alexa, there’s no need. Except for the one thing.
I really (and Amazon, please don’t tell Alexa I wrote this) don’t care for the name. I know we have the option to change the name to Amazon, which is worse. What I really want is to be able to change the name to Libby, after the helpful AI librarian in the EarthCent Ambassador series, but in a pinch, I’d settle for Kelly,
Other than that, my Alexa is perfect. Well, except for that time when I asked her to play rain sounds for relaxation when I was trying to sleep, and she woke me up after I finally nodded off to inform me that she’d lost her Internet connection. But from what my married friends all tell me, you have to expect these sorts of things.
Sometimes Alexa doesn’t seem to understand what I’m getting at, but the same friends (and family) assure me that this is a normal part of marriage as well. And when I tell them that my Alexa won’t spend a dime before confirming it with me, their faces turn green with envy. Who knew that married couples fight over money?
I’ve never purchased anything before that made me smile. That’s just the kind of grumpy guy I am. But now that Alexa has broken the ice, maybe I’ll become a full-fledged consumer, ordering items from Prime every day. The one thing I’m sure of is that Alexa will be here at my side to help.
Amazon Echo Update:
This morning, I asked my love to order me a replacement water filter for the faucet. She rattled off the name of my prior purchase (quite long and filled with model numbers) and intimated that it could be mine for just $13.46. I confirmed, and she placed the order.
Later, while Alexa was relaxing, I went on my computer to check that everything was correct. Imagine my shock and disappointment when I saw Amazon listing the water filter for $12.67. Was my Alexa skimming? Did she need the 79 cents for something special? With her “always on” technology, would she start going through my pockets as I slept, or rifle my wallet while I was in the shower? Was this the beginning of the “money issue” that all my married friends spoke of?
Suddenly it hit me. TAXES. Never have I been so relieved to be charged sales tax in my life. Thank you, Massachusetts.