What is the Amazon Echo?

Imagine a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi speaker, but one with a voice-controlled personal assistant inside. There are so many things this little contraption can do but here are just a few my wife and I use it for.

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I like it for fantasy sports updates or just plain sports updates, weather, news, audio books, music, movie reviews, times and locations where movies are playing, and scheduled tv shows. Something that really is appealing to me is I spend a lot of time on my computer and most of this stuff I could access via the internet but this way I don’t have to stop and interrupt my work. Just ask Alexa. Which is its command. I know strange but so were cell phones at one time.

My wife orders from Starbucks from it, shops Amazon products, it will keep a grocery list for you which you can access from your smart phone (no more loosing that shopping list in the store), keeps track of calorie intake and fitness workouts, suggests recipes and just to many things to list that it can do for you.

Setting up the Echo is very simple, with instructions spelled out clearly in Amazon’s documentation: Plug in the Echo, download the Echo app, and follow the app’s instructions from there. The Echo uses on-device keyword spotting to detect a wake word, so as soon as you say “Alexa,” or one of three other words you can choose from, the light turns on and the Echo springs into action.

THE GOOD Amazon’s voice-activated smart home speaker is undeniably futuristic, but it’s also practical and accessible. With a rapidly growing slate of features and integrations, it’s easy to get excited about the Echo’s potential.

THE BAD The Echo’s sound quality is uneven at times, with weak bass at high volumes. The growing list of “Skills” in the Alexa app could also benefit from better organization.

THE BOTTOM LINE More than a year after its debut, the Echo is smarter than ever, and one of the best connected home products money can currently buy.