Several months ago, I got an invitation to order the soon-to-be-released Amazon Echo (I mean, I think most Prime members did – I didn’t do anything special 🙂). I love Siri (even more now with the watch she was made for!) and was totally intrigued, so I ordered immediately despite not knowing exactly what it could do.
While we were in California, she came! I mean…. is it a she? The device is an Echo. The “wake word” though, and the voice that responds, is that of “Alexa”. I’m going with she. She’s pretty cool, too!
First, I have to point out that as much as I love Siri, Alexa responds lightning fast. That being said, you have to say “Alexa _____” (where ____ is the command/request) and if you pause after just “Alexa” the Echo responds briefly with its light ring but doesn’t hear your next words.
Want to see her in action? Here is an extremely unscripted, unpolished video from my first encounter with her —
The echo has seven microphones around the top of the device, which explains the ability to pick up my request from quite far away throughout the lower floor of my house – and it can hear you even while it’s doing something else like playing your favorite playlist!
Some other things she can do that I didn’t test for the video:
- play a song on Pandora (one of yours or a station it picks based on a genre you request)
- ask about local traffic
- control supported WeMo and Philips home devices
- tell scores of sporting events or the next time your favorite team plays
- order products from Amazon
- play Audible.com books
- run If (formerly IFTTT) recipes (oh! like sending to-dos and reminders to Evernote or other apps if you don’t want to use the Echo app for additional lists)
The app includes “voice training” to help improve the service even more (though so far it’s quite good out of the box) – and some easter eggs such as the response, “I’m not a replicator” when you ask for “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot.” (Reference, friends? 🙂)
I also love (and practically collect) bluetooth or similar speakers for around the house (this is my favorite so far) so the fact that the Echo sounds great – and raises or lowers volume on command – is a wonderful bonus!
View Amazon’s Echo FAQ here.
Tell me – what would you ask Alexa? Maybe I’ll do a post with your questions and her answers 😉
Disclosure: Not much to disclose. 🙂 As an Amazon Prime member I was able to purchase relatively early at a lower price of $99.00. Time will tell, but the few other reviews I’ve seen from tech bloggers who have had it for a while suggests the current price tag of $199.00 is still well worth it.