Amazon Echo Review: Alexa, What Can You Do For Me?

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Amazon Echo on shelfAre you looking for a friend who can tell you the answer to anything? Maybe Alexa can help you out! Amazon Echo, aka Alexa, is the voice assistant that can answer questions you have by using a wake word. Most people use Alexa as their wake word, however, if someone in your household is named Alexa you may want to choose a different word! 😉 Alexa can also help you order things online, call your friends, play music and more. We review Alexa to see if she’s really as helpful as the hype suggests.

Amazon Echo logoView the Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

4.6 / 5
Amazon Echo
Security Customer Service & Reputation 4.3
Price 4.0
Features 5.0
Ease of Use 4.8
Equipment Quality 5.0

Pros

  • Use your voice to control it
  • Can answer questions, read audio books, give weather and news reports, sports scores
  • Can order products from Amazon Prime without getting out your phone or computer
  • 1 year warranty
  • Constantly adding new functions

Cons

  • Voice control is not supported for Mac OS X devices
  • Complaints of it using Bing instead of Google as its search engine
  • Have to buy other gadgets to use all the features (e.g. lighting control)
  • If you don’t have Amazon Prime it won’t offer as many features
  • Voice control is not supported for Mac OS X devices Complaints of it using Bing instead of Google as its search engine Have to buy other gadgets to use all the features (e.g. lighting control) If you don’t have Amazon Prime it won’t offer as many features

Pricing

Key Features

  • Alexa app is compatible with Android, iOS and Fire OS and accessible via web browser
  • Plays music from Prime Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and more
  • Answer questions, reads audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, gives sports scores and schedules and more
  • Alexa – cloud-based voice service
  • Compatible with WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon and more to control lights and other smart switches

How Does It Compare Against Others?

Amazon Echo vs Siri: Answering Questions

Alexa requires that you order your words specifically and ask a question in a specific manner. Siri doesn’t always understand or answer your question. So really there are cons to both. But, if we had to pick one over the other, we’d pick Amazon Echo. Alexa seems to do a great job at answering questions overall and Amazon is continuing to update its features.

Amazon Echo vs Google Now: Answering Questions

Both Alexa and Google answer questions well. It’s honestly up to you and what your preference is as to which device’s answer you’ll prefer. From what we’ve learned in our research, it seems that Alexa answers questions more literally and direct while Google answers questions that may sometimes be a little more detailed or not exactly what you wanted. Both have pros and cons and do a great job at answering questions, but we can’t determine which is better from our research.

Read our Amazon Echo vs Google Home Comparison

Amazon Echo vs Bose: Sound Quality

Amazon Echo is designed to deliver 360° sound while Bose delivers sound straight out of one side of the speaker. If you’re looking for a speaker alone, we suggest going with Bose. You can get the Bose Soundlink for less money than the Amazon Echo and the sound quality is better too. However, if you’re wanting “smart” capabilities then we suggest going with the Echo.

Amazon Echo vs Dot vs Tap vs Plus vs Spot vs Show vs Buttons

Amazon is coming out with more products in its smart home line-up regularly these days. To keep up, we’ve written brief paragraphs to help distinguish the difference between some of the key Echo devices.

Amazon Echo Review

Amazon EchoView the Amazon Echo

If you want a device that is hands-free and can provide answers quickly, Amazon Echo may be great for you. Ask Alexa about the weather forecast, how to spell a word, what the tallest building is, etc. She always has the answers for you. She can also provide hands-free recipe assistance and a timer. The Echo has a woofer and tweeter, so the sound is better than what you find in Echo Dot. If you want to fill your home with Echo products, you may want to start with Echo or Echo Plus and then add on Echo Dots for other rooms.

Echo Plus Review

Amazon Echo PlusView the Amazon Echo Plus

The Echo Plus is the only Echo product with a built-in smart home hub. It supports ZigBee, WiFi and Bluetooth. It has seven microphones and dual speakers by Dolby. The Plus can do anything Echo does and can also connect your smart home devices.

Echo Dot Review

Amazon Echo DotView the Amazon Echo Dot

Echo Dot is a small, discreet cylinder with one speaker. It’s essentially the top 1.6 inches of the Amazon Echo device but it costs much less, only Out of stock. Echo Dot must be plugged into a wall outlet and connected to an external speaker. It is always on and always listening for the key phrase “Alexa”. It can stream music, control your smart devices and can do everything else Echo does. The main difference between Echo and Dot is that Dot doesn’t have a full size speaker. The small speaker in Dot doesn’t put out much audio, so you will want to connect Dot to existing speakers.

Amazon Tap Review

Amazon Echo TapView the Amazon Tap

Amazon Tap is a wireless Bluetooth smart speaker that uses Alexa. It requires a WiFi connection to work, so unless you have a hotspot, you won’t be able to use this on the go. This smart speaker provides up to nine hours of playback and streams music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn. Unlike Echo and Dot, Amazon Tap is not hands free. You must tap the microphone button before you ask it to do something.

Echo Spot Review

Amazon Echo SpotView the Amazon Echo Spot

The Echo Spot is like the Dot and Show mixed in to one device. It is a smart alarm clock for your bed side. It has Bluetooth capabilities and a two-watt speaker for music listening in the bedroom. It has a touch screen and camera for video calls. If you want a smart alarm clock, this is a cool option.

Echo Show Review

Amazon Echo ShowView the Amazon Echo Show

The Echo Show has a seven inch touch screen that allows you to interact with what’s displayed. It has two two-inch speakers and eight microphones, so it can hear you from across the room. It has the best audio compared to other Echo devices, so if you plan on listening to a lot of music go with this one. It’s a bit more chunky than other Echo devices and has to be plugged in. It can show you the time, weather, calendar, etc. without you pressing a button. You can watch Amazon Prime or YouTube but no Netflix, Hulu or Sling capabilities. It can remember multiple timers and you can manage your grocery list or pull up a recipe, so it’s a great addition for a kitchen. (I can’t tell you how many times I have had to wash my hands before looking at my phone for a recipe, this would be super handy to have in these instances.) Similar to other Echo devices, you can ask it a question and it will respond with an answer. It allows you to make video calls to mobile devices or other Echo Shows. The “Drop In” feature is a little creepy because it lets anyone see what you’re doing without answering a video call. Fortunately, this feature is disabled by default. If you’re looking for a hands-free, visual smart assistant this is a great option.

Echo Buttons Review

View the Amazon Echo Buttons

If you want to interact with your Echo in a different way, take a look at the Echo Buttons. They pair with an existing Echo device and you can use them to play a game like trivia. Unfortunately, they aren’t available yet (ETA: 2017 holiday season), but they will cost $19.99 for a two-pack. View the video below to see how they work.

Should You Get Echo Devices?

Although Amazon Echo products are more expensive than some of the competitors, it’s worth it if you are looking for a system that is seamless and can be integrated into a smart home easily. It’s really the only smart speaker capable of these types of things at this time. Read about how Amazon Echo holds up against Google Home.

What are you most excited to try out with the Amazon Echo?

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Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing and personally testing products and services.

Kimberly has been writing about security and safety since 2013, covering subjects such as home security and automation, identity theft protection, home warranties, medical alert systems and more. In 2018, she had her first child, and that opened up a whole new avenue of security experience with baby gear. She wanted to purchase the safest items for her family.

Security is a passion of hers, and she knows it isn’t a one size fits all category. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs.

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Josh G
I got an Amazon Echo for Christmas and it seems like I can train her to do just about anything I used to use my Wink hub for (turn on/off lights, turn up the heat, play music, etc.), right? Am I missing something or is this true? What do I need a hub for that Alexa cannot do?
Kyle
You can control your lights remotely with a smart home hub when you are not home to talk directly to Alexa.
Emily
Yes Kyle I think you’re right! I believe the phone talks to your virtual assistant (Alexa or Google Home) via your home wifi, and both the phone and virtual assistant need to be connected to the same wifi at the same time. Now if you’re gone, you’ll need a hub to connect to your home’s internet and your phone to connect to the hub to talk to the smart appliances, lights, etc. And with a hub you’re tied into one particular hub line of products vs virtual assistants which are compatible with multiple brands… but not all appliances and bulbs are compatible with the various smart home technology… YET. It is only a matter of time!
AmazonAddict
Wow, this sounds awesome! I am already addicted to Amazon Prime so might have to get one of these. And it is no surprise Amazon has a product that makes it easy and encourages you to buy more from them. haha!