For Christmas this year, the husband and I decided to have a joint main present and so went halves on the new bit of technology, The Amazon Echo.
Now, if you haven’t seen one of the numerous adverts, the Amazon Echo is a tubular 360 degree speaker that is interactive and can do a million and one things.
For us, we really wanted a small piece of kit that would have great sound quality and be able to play songs. For many years we have relied on our Ipods, and a great Ministry of Sound dock system which unfortunately suffered a fatal injury and we had not got around to replacing it.
This means that any new music is played through the computer speakers which to be fair, are always a bit rubbish.
I looked into the Echo quite considerably, as for £150 I wanted to make sure that it was something we would get use out out, and if not, what else I could get for my pounds.
The Echo is billed as a 360 degree onmi-directional speaker with voice control. So what exactly does that all mean?
Basically that I can talk to a piece of plastic and metal and it will obey my commands! World Domination here I come!
Or maybe not. But I can get it to play music from my amazon playlist, Spotify or Tunedin. I can get it to read my audio books out loud to me. I can even get it to tell me a joke, although they aren’t particularly good ones.
Now, that sounds like a lot of money for not a lot of capabilities. But actually it is capable of doing so much more. As I said at the beginning, I really wanted something that was going to play music for me. And it does that in spades.
Ask for “Ella Fitzgerald” or “Walk this Way” or the “Gracelands” album and it will start playing out loud. Tell it to turn the volume up or down, or find a specific podcast and it will do it. Echo is constantly updating and learning new things, this makes it very easy to use, and also very user friendly.
If you have a smart home, using Hive or Nest etc, you can get it to turn the heating on and off, put the kettle on or even dim the lights, These are amazing innovations, and makes me want to get all the smart gadgets. This could also be fantastic for people with limited mobility or impairment.
You can even set up calendar entries and shopping list; this is a great idea as I always write them down and forget to pick them up. This way it is email directly to you, and can be accessed on you phone; this is a real boon for a busy parent too.
Now when we first discussed by the Echo, Baby Bear really thought it a waste of money. However, since having it she has certainly talked to it enough. Skipping songs, choosing new playlists and charts, turning off the songs I like to hear; she has taken great delight in using it.
The only downside that I found to the Echo was that it used the Alexa App to function. This meant every time you wanted to get it to do something, you had to wake it up by saying it’s name.
Now given that Baby Bear’s first name is actually Alexa, it caused a lot of issues when we constantly kept saying her name out loud. Thankfully you can change the wake-up name, so she is now very safely called Echo.
My first impressions are excellent. I love the sound quality and the millions of songs you can access without needing to swap and change CD’s. I really think it is a very clever bit of kit, and that as time goes on it will gain even more functions which excites me quite a bit.
The best thing is that it is very portable, small yet sturdy and I can move it into any room if I so wish without having to dismantle half my house or drag around 30 – 40 CD’s upstairs if I want to listen to a mixed bag of music.
For me it is Convenient, Classy, Clever and above all Clear to use. I can’t wait to explore all the things it can do, mostly all that endless music which I can skip or change just by saying the word Echo……