Most people by now have at least heard of Amazon if not used it in some way. The website first came out dealing with books and soon expanded. Now there is a permanently connected device from the company named the Amazon Echo, or Alexa. The reason for mentioning Alexa is that the unit is operable by voice command and is addressed as Alexa.
I first saw this great gadget on this cool blog trescoolgadgets.com, which has a lot of home automation devices you can check it out here. Amazing site and it made me curious. This device is basically a large Bluetooth speaker with better quality. However, its usefulness is not just limited to that. It is an audio system, but it is connected to the web and can play music from Amazon Prime or virtually any streaming audio service.
It can be controlled by voice commands, and once connected and set up, users can control the device either with voice, remote, or via an app installed on a device. It works with Kindle, Android, and iPhone. It is capable of doing more than playing music. For example, it can have timers and alarms set to it and can even do web searches for topics of interest.
Typically, devices with voice commands require the user to be near the device, like less than 5 feet, but Echo can hear and understand voice commands from across the room with accuracy. Getting back to the web searches part, it can have web searches performed and read back the results, but if the content is too much, the device can send the requested data or page to your linked device. Connectivity is done via Wifi, but can also be connected to a device such as a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth pairing. The contents of the package are: the tower, batteries, and remote with magnetic holder that can be attached via adhesive strip where desired.
Naturally, the volume and sound quality will not match a good home stereo system, but the volume and sound quality is superior to the average Bluetooth speaker, with far more capabilities. The Echo system is smart, and will quickly offer alternatives if the commanded option is not available. For example, AC/DC isn’t on Spotify, so if you were to ask Alexa to play AC/DC on Spotify, it would let you know that and suggest an alternate location where you could hear it.
A lot of people do not like voice command devices as the language base is pretty narrow and one has to learn specific commands in order for the device to follow them. However, with Echo, the language base is fairly expensive, and because of its constant connection to the web, the language base can be updated and expanded at any time by Amazon.
The selling price for the Amazon echo is about $199, but for Amazon Prime members, the price drops to around $99. This is a fairly good deal considering all that the Echo can do, especially when you consider that you can command it from across the room and its microphones are sensitive enough to be able to clearly pick up the spoken command and execute it with near flawlessness.