Wednesday 30 November 2016

Amazon Echo Review

Amazon Echo Review

Amazon Echo, the smart speaker that wants to rule your home, has finally gone on sale in the UK, over a year after being released in the US.

Statuesque in appearance, the Echo immediately makes its presence felt in your kitchen or living room, with its assistant Alexa quietly waiting for your next command.

For those of us who find even Apple's Siri a bit intimidating, there's no doubt it takes a bit of getting used - barking out questions and instructions across the room doesn't exactly come naturally.

But Amazon is convinced their Echo is better than anything the world has seen before – with the firm boasting its far-field voice recognition can understand a huge range of human commands.

So is the Echo really as good as Amazon thinks it is?

We've powered up this new speaker and here’s what we think.


There's good news if you hate technology as setting up the Echo is a piece of cake with its smartphone app taking you through each stage of the one-minute process.

You’ll need your Wi-Fi password to hand as the Echo requires a decent internet connection to work but, other than that, everyone should find it easy to plug in and play.

Once the Echo is online it’s time to get talking as it’s your voice that controls everything the Echo does.

The speaker is powered by Amazon’s new friendly personal assistant called Alexa and saying her name instantly breathes life into the gadget.

Although Alexa isn’t as powerful as some other digital personal assistants, you can ask her a bunch of things and get a pretty useful response.


For example, say, “Alexa, play Radio One” and, within seconds, the speaker is banging out tunes from the BBC.

If you have an Amazon Prime account, or Spotify, she’ll also find your favourite music and playlists.

And there’s plenty of other things she’ll do including reading the news, letting you know what the weather is like and setting timers or your morning wake-up alarm.

As long as you have accounts with companies such as Just Eat and Uber, Alexa can even order your favourite takeaway or book you a cab to the local pub.

Traffic reports are also available although, during our test, the information she can currently pass on about your journey is very limited.

To get any sort of useful response about train or car journeys you have to programme your favourite commute into the Echo app.

This is a real shame as to ask Alexa "how's the traffic on the M25" would be an extremely useful addition.

Amazon Echo Review

After our initial concerns we really like the Amazon Echo.

Although chatting to a speaker may sound a bit odd, it actually makes a lot of sense and soon becomes second nature.

The Alexa voice recognition is hugely impressive and, with more features coming soon, the Echo is only going to get better.

However, although we love the Echo is does have some faults.

The sound isn't the best and to get the most out of the device you'll need to spend extra money on smart home gadgets, such as a Hive thermostat, and premium subscription plans from Amazon Prime or Spotify.

At £149.99 the Echo is also pretty expensive and you can find better Bluetooth and wireless speakers for the same price.

Although it's not perfect the Echo is proof that voice search can be brilliant and Amazon should be pleased as punch with what they've achieved.

And, if you want the most futuristic speaker ever created in your kitchen, the Echo should be top of your Christmas wishlist.



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