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Amazon Echo review

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Comments (12)
  1. Mark Chambers says:

    I’m waiting for the Google product which they trailed at the last I/O event. If Google Now is anything to go by the AI will probably be better than Amazon’s from the get go.

  2. j_gallardo says:

    If you are buying the echo for its speaker capabilities, you are looking at the wrong product… The echo’s speaker features are not like the ones of Bose, but its not its purpose to be so its ok… If i want to listen to good quality music sound i do it elsewhere… The echo is the best home integration hub in the market, i can control my house with my echo, i can ask alexa for information…it is like siri… But hands free, always available… No device in my hands… I can wake in the middle of the night and ask… What time is it? And it can wake me up to my favourite tune in station… And the volume is just fine… With all these features… Who cares its not the best speaker out there??

  3. Komrad says:

    IT would be so cool if this could connect to my sonos speakers that I have in every room. I listen to podcasts and audio books while moving between rooms cooking/cleaning/laundry/etc so it’s important that the audio is in every room.

    1. NMadz says:

      The just released Amazon Dot has an audio out, might be a good option for you

  4. ClashRockers says:

    I’ve just spent about 3 hours playing with Alexa, which my brother-in-law bought for my sister as a Christmas gift (2015). Somewhere in Amazon documentation it says Alexa has an IQ of between 25 and 160, depending on the questions you ask her during the technology’s learning phase. I suppose that means, if you ask Alexa the appropriate questions, she will eventually be able to determine how the multiverse vibrates across innumerable “bubbles” to create music in the 11 physical dimensions suggested by string theory, aka Einstein’s “mind of God.”

    …or maybe not.

    In truth, Alexa has an IQ much nearer to the guy playing an AM play list of 1970s music at the roller skating rink, or the guy driving the Zamboni at a minor league hockey game in Sioux City, Iowa. Its native “skills” (the features with which Alexa shows up at your home) are severely limited. However, you can improve her skills by installing them from the Echo store, and these skills can do helpful things like demotivate you by telling the truth, singing Christmas carols, and facilitating a game of Booze Trivia.

    What Alexa and her Echo system cannot do is integrate with any other technology or hardware. True, Amazon has opened Echo to the IFTTT programming app, the most basic programming approach known to man. (IFTTT is an if -> then programming model limited to a single if -> then statement. It is Boolean programming at its simplest. In fact, it is so simple most elementary school kids won’t use it. They use Automate or Tasker on their Android phones.) To implement the behavior triggered by a IFTTT if -> then statement very simple interfaces are provided to allow interaction with Web 2.0 apps, but at the most basic level, for example, send an email to myself but to no one else.

    So imagine this…. You want Alexa to notify you when CNN runs a story about weather events in Indonesia. Well, IFTTT doesn’t offer access to a CNN interface, but it does offer an NPR interface. However, this interface only allows access to general categories of content like News, Politics, and Sports. So, if you’re interested in all news from all over the world so you can parse it to find stories about the weather in Indonesia, IFTTT is for you. However, you should note Alexa won’t be able to tell you when a new news story is published unless you want her to send you an email, which you can then cull through to find stories about the latest typhoon to hit Indonesia.

    If this makes Alexa sound a lot like a 1995 Windows PC or the current version of hundreds of Apple applications, all of which store the same data time and again, you’re right.

    Just like Windows 95 and Apple 2015, Alexa is an Amazon proprietary tool to give you access to Amazon’s proprietary media. It is basically a jukebox shaped like a can that can be outperformed using a $50 Bluetooth speaker system and any number of voice controlled software apps.

    For example, I bought my 13 year old a pink speaker she can hang in the shower (or anywhere for that matter). I bought the speaker from Amazon for $28 and the little speaker sounds better than Alexa, which isn’t hard. My daughter controls the media streaming through her pink speaker with a voice activated app on her iPhone. On an Android phone, I could write an Automate app that would turn the speaker into a news reporting service, calendar management system, and fashion consultant using the New York Times’ style section.

    Or for ~$200 on Amazon, I can buy Alexa, and I can get the Tough Guy skill to tell me jokes like “How much do dead batteries cost? Nothing. There is no charge.”

    Now that’s a joke.

    1. simon james says:

      You’re missing the point. In your case you have to connect your phone to your speaker, open the voice app, then ask the speaker to play a song which you’ve selected from the phone… by that time you might as well have put the CD in and selected the track. With Alexa I just sit here and say “alexa, play classical music” and within 5 seconds of thinking “I want classical music” I’m listening to it… without moving or looking up.

      Also – the sound quality is good, far better than a cheap bluetooth speaker.

  5. Digiadam says:

    I got one of these as a gift. Sent to me by an american friend. Sadly though I cannot get the app since I am Canadian. iTunes will not let me.

    Sad that there is a canadian amazon service but this thing is us only. Quite pathetic actually. I don’t blame my friend….he didnt know.

    1. David Roughan says:

      It’s not supported in Aus either. But I used tunnelbear VPN and a new gmail account to pretend to be in the US and was able to get the app. But if you have android just google and you will find the apk you can install directly.

  6. cycleflow says:

    Well worth the 100 bucks I spent. Reminds me of the Star Trek computer. Decent music player. I use it for background music for reading. Great timer function for mediators that produces a pleasant non- jarring tone. Keeps getting better.
    This type of gadget will be as common as TV’s in a few years. It will be necessary for smart home functions. A lot easier that reaching for a smart phone. Surprised other companies have not introduced similar devices, but they will.

    1. WealRo says:

      Hi, keeping on the Star Trek theme here. Would you use this with other integrations like banking and savings if it were available from Amazon via third party API? i.e. AI assistant helps you find areas in your budget to save.

    2. Nicolas Pino says:

      Yes, agreed all around. Wish it was a slightly better speaker, but I use mine primarily for the timer, quiet music for meditation and a random fact here and there.

  7. MattMe says:

    So is the AI in this based on the Cortana/Bing natural speech recognition then? I only ask because you mentioned the app allows you to Bing search if Alexa can’t answer your question.

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