Amazon have tried once with a smart phone and failed badly but here is where I think they could do better second time around considered the products they now offer which are very popular here in Ireland but of course we are left waiting and users having to import the devices but this is not just with Amazon to be fair,their products are good and winning the battle when it comes to voice assistants placed in our homes and they are affordable too, We look at the Echo 2 and share our thoughts but there is not much more on offer compared to their first gen offering.
The presentation is simple here with the product with a simple cardboard box giving you some details of whats in store but users of old will be well in tune on whats on offer and what to expect with the Echo 2nd Gen.
Here is where you can draw a line with what you want to do with it, either a smart hub or use it for information which is what I used it for, currently we are refining our house more IoT style which in time this will be ideal for a smart hub giving you options to do plenty and with the products now available in Ireland it opens doors for developers to give users the options they want in time, Most of us today have little or nothing connected apart from bulbs,light switches and perhaps a few more things.
The Echo is not big and can be placed anywhere in the house so depending on the user and for what they will use it for it will vary,its smaller than the previous model not that it matters that much because its not something that can get in the way really.
Controls and I/Os are simple for anyone new to this, On the top we have lights that surround the lip and change colour when setting up etc,you can see the videos and Instagram clips for more on that,when it starts up you get a good thump and it sounds good too. The buttons on top are simply laid out,You get and action key,plus and minus volume keys and you can turn the mic off when not in use or just plug it out. On the bottom on the back we have our power and aux I/Os.
You then need to download the app this is where I ran into problems setting up with my home wi-fi which I could probably blame as its brutal most of the time but I got there in the end, You will need to put information into the app to get going as Alexa learns as time goes on,the app is simple enough to use and has a nice UI. Tip. The more info you put in the more you will get out.
Alexa is fun though and throwing some random questions is where it’s at other than the normal ones people might ask. My daughter had a great time asking questions and ended up sat there having conversations with her which kept her occupied which was a good thing but the constant calling of Alexa does get annoying and I even feel a bit silly talking to a tube myself but this is the way forward and no different from asking Google something on your phone which I do not really do much anyway.
The things it can do are good and the possibilities will be endless soon enough as this is the direction we are going if we like it or not, The thing I like most on the fly is news and we have RTE and the independent here for that information and we can also check the weather,you will need to enter details for this on setting up the app but with privacy being an issue you do not have to be precise with what you tell Alexa or in the app set up.
Best placed in the centre of a room or perhaps a table is the best place for it to be to experience the sound from it,its pretty good and loud but if stuck in a corner you will lose out on quality,This picks up your voice pretty much anywhere in the house which is good and if you have speakers about you can connect via bluetooth which makes it much better overall.
The Echo in my view is an ideal way to get into the whole IoT game and having fun in the process, It may not answer everything you throw at her but I love her voice it’s really cool, There is plenty here to keep you occupied and time will tell all if you like it or not,people to fear privacy with gadgets like this but this is the way forward and perhaps some might think it’s a lazy way of doing things but its the era we are in now and that’s it.
Having the option to voice control things at home speaking to a box might seem far-fetched to some but it’s a reality and its also cool but this product offers easy ways to do things such as make calls and play music and the sound is great.
There is much to do with Alexa and for those with connected gadgets in the house will love it,aside the basic functions like asking questions,setting timers,shopping lists and getting the latest news on the fly I think its a great products being my first, i would like in time to have an ecosystem of Amazon products in the house eventually, For now this is good as a speaker in the house and getting some things done but over time the Echo and future products will be where it’s at and where i intend to be going forward.