This is the Amazon Echo in this black, unmarked box. This box contains Amazon’s Voice Assistance, formerly named Alexa. When this device was first announced back in 2014 towards the end of the year, I went ahead and requested an invite and I was actually able to buy my own unit early 2015 around January or February. But it’s May right now and it just now arrived.
So with Amazon releasing this device to a select number of people over the course of a few months, this device has kind of stayed relevant but at the same time, it’s not publicly available so it hasn’t really gained too much attention since you can’t publicly buy this device just yet. You still have to wait for an invite.
So there’s not a lot of feedback on this device and I kind of hoped to add to the feedback with my review and coverage of this device because I think it has a lot of potential, it’s certainly an interesting device and kind of a futuristic device. You can say that I’m really looking forward to testing this device and reviewing it and just seeing how capable it is as of May in 2015.
So this is the black box that contains Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa. It’s always connected to Wi-Fi and it’s guided by the Amazon Echo app on Android, iOS or Fire OS devices as well as desktop browsers. So whatever device you have, chances are, you can control your Amazon Echo. And it is also Bluetooth enabled so you can stream your favorite music services like Spotify, iTunes and Pandora from your phone or your tablet.
Once we get past the sheet of paper, we can literally rip off the tape of the second box and fold off the top and we’ll be greeted with the cylindrical Amazon Echo on the left with a compartment for the accessories on the right. The Amazon Echo is sitting right on top of an instructions setup guide, which will walk you through the setup process but chances are you probably won’t need this since it is pretty straightforward as long as you download the Amazon Echo app.
The compartment on the right has several goodies. It has a wall plug with a charging cable, which is really the only cord you’ll need for this device. There’s a remote that’s identical to the Fire TV remote as it has a dedicated voice search button. Amazon was nice enough to include two short play batteries to power the remote and they even included a remote holder, which is magnetic and it will stick to your refrigerator so you could place your remote there and easily have access to it. And if you want to put it somewhere else, they also included an adhesive sticky pad to stick it to a wall or a table once again for your convenience.
So if we take a look back again at the Amazon Echo, it’s actually built really well. It has a very nice, sturdy weight to it. No real loose or fragile pieces even though the frame is constructed entirely of plastic. There’s a 2-inch tweeter for delivering crispy high notes and then there’s a reflex port to enhance the sub-woofer’s output; once again for deeper sounds without any distortion. This is how Amazon describes it but basically, it’s just a fancy cylinder speaker.
On the top of the device, we do have a microphone off button, an action button, a light ring and volume ring around the top with a 7-microphone array. The bottom is just home to a power port and that is about it. We have an Amazon logo on the bottom front of the device with a speaker grill around the bottom half as well. And then we have smooth plastic on the top half of the device.
The Amazon Echo is accompanied by the Echo app, which you will need to set up your Echo. You just need to connect it to your Wi-Fi so it’s pretty straightforward. But this is what the app looks like once you get it all connected. There’s a home section that gives you information based off what you ask your Echo. As you can see here I have some recent searches. You also have access to the to-do and shopping list, which you can add to from Amazon Echo. You can view your Amazon Music Library here and prime stations Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn will also work with Amazon Echo.
In the settings, you can customize just about everything about the Echo in the apps and functionality available for your Echo. You can customize the to-dos, traffic info. You can set up music services. You can even toggle whether or not you want one-click voice purchasing on or off. It was automatically turned on when I set up my Amazon Echo so I turned that off because it could get dangerous.
But now I want to give you just a quick sample of how it works. The Amazon Echo wake word is defaulted as Alexa. But you can change it to Amazon if you’d like.
So there you have it. This is the Amazon Echo. I’m going to test this device over the course of a couple of weeks. I’m going to put it right in my living room and just ask questions and use it daily to see if it can answer my questions and if there’s an actual need for this device. Because my goal at the end of the next couple of weeks in my review, I want to see if this device is even worth it. If it is even necessary.
So the Amazon Echo—it costs $149 with a Prime membership so you get $50 off from the regular price, which is $199 with no Prime membership. Let me know if you guys think it’s worth it