Save precious time with smart devices from Amazon – meet the Echo family
The Amazon Echo family is a brand of smart speakers developed by Amazon. The Echo project began in 2010 but the devices weren’t widely available until June 2015. The devices connect to a voice-controlled virtual personal assistant named Alexa (similar to Apple’s Siri). The Echo devices are capable of many useful daily tasks and commands including:
- Voice interaction
- Music playback
- Making to-do lists
- Setting alarms
- Streaming podcasts
- Playing Audiobooks
- Providing weather or traffic info
- Real time information
In addition to these features, the Echo has access to “skills” built with the Alexa Skills Kit. These are 3rd-party developed experiences that can also be downloaded and used with your Echo device. New skills are being developed every day such as ordering a pizza, getting an Uber, and many more. There are many tutorials available online that can be followed to build new voice experiences.
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Let’s Meet the Family!
The Amazon Echo family currently consists of 5 main devices.
In the remainder of this article, we’ll cover some of the details of the devices so you can decide which device would be the right fit for your needs!
What comes with all the devices?
All five of the Amazon Echo devices come with the Alexa personal assistant and the following:
- Streaming Wi-fi music (including Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, and more)
- Line-out with 3.5 mm cable or Bluetooth (Echo Show is Bluetooth only)
- Free audio calls to US, Mexico, and Canada
- Control smart home devices
Like mentioned earlier, all the devices are capable of learning new Alexa skills. Just ask Alexa using a voice command and the Echo takes care of the rest! All music, reminders, and data is stored on the Amazon cloud, which means you don’t need to connect Alexa to your Phone or computer. Connect Alexa to your home wifi and you’re all set!
Here are some simple commands that Alexa is capable of doing:
“Alexa, play music.”
“Alexa, find me a Chinese restaurant.”
“Alexa, what’s on my calendar today?”
“Alexa, re-order paper towels.”
“Alexa, set timer for 20 minutes.”
“Alexa, what does my commute look like today?”
Voice Control Your Music
With the Echo devices you get more control of your music. Just ask Alexa to play your favorite artist or song, or request a specific genre. You can search for music by the lyrics, by the year the song or album was released, or let Alexa pick for you! With Amazon Music Unlimited you can listen to any song you want whenever you want.
Alexa also provides voice control for Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.
Alexa Has Some Serious Skills
Continue to add Alexa skills to your Echo device as thousands of new skills become available in the Alexa App. Some of our favorite companies like Dominos, Uber, Fitbit, and more are creating amazing skills that you can use to save time on your to-do list!
Control Your Smart Home
Connect your Echo device to your smart home system and ask Alexa to turn off the lamp, turn on the fan, turn up the thermostat, control the TV, and more! Alexa works with some of the best smart home brands including: WeMo, Philips Hue, Sony, SmartThings, Insteon, ecobee, and Wink.
Don’t Forget the Alexa App
You can get the free Alexa App for iOS or Android and connect all your services, apps, calendars, and more to easily update settings, preferences, and more! View your shopping lists on the go. Control your timers and much more. The app is also where you discover new 3rd-party skills.
Now let’s talk about what makes each of the Echo devices different…
The Echo Dot is the smallest member of the Echo family with a 0.6 inch speaker. This device is compact and works best in any room. Put an Echo dot in the laundry room, or other rooms in the house where you might need it. The speaker is small so it might not be best if you’re going to be listening to a lot of music, but if you need to quickly get some info or use an Alexa skill, the Amazon Echo Dot is a great option!
The Echo is built with a room filling speaker featuring a 2.5″ woofer and 0.6″ tweeter. The second generation of Echo features new and improved Dolby sound and new fabric designs.
The Amazon Echo is a great device for a large family room or kitchen, where you may spend an extended amount of time.
This would be considered the “standard” of the echo devices. It’s a great price for the value, and would be a great investment for anyone looking for a personal assistant or speaker for their home.
The Echo Plus is slightly larger than the Amazon Echo and features a built-in smart home hub. Set up devices from Philips Hue, GE, Kwikset, and others without the need for a separate hub. The devices also includes improved speakers with Dolby processing deliver crisp vocals and extended bass to fill the room with immersive, 360° audio. With seven microphones, beamforming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo hears you from any direction—even while music is playing
The Echo Spot will be available Dec 19,2017. This is a compact Echo design that features a 2.5″ color screen to allow you to make video calls, watch briefings, see lyrics, weather forecasts, and more.
The Echo Spot’s screen will be a great way to see popups and reminders. This is a great option for anyone who works from home or in an office. Put the Amazon Echo Spot on your desk next to your computer, for quick and easy updates and help with your daily tasks.
The Echo Show features a 7 inch color screen and room filling dual 2.0″ stereo speakers to provide you a better audio and video experience. The Amazon Echo Show brings you everything you love about Alexa, and now she can show you things. Watch video flash briefings, Amazon Video content, see music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, browse and listen to Audible audiobooks, and more. All hands-free—just ask.
Ask Alexa to show you the front door or monitor the baby’s room with compatible cameras from Ring and Arlo. Turn on lights or the TV, set thermostats, control Amazon Video on Fire TV, and more with WeMo, Philips Hue, Sony, ecobee, and other compatible smart home devices.
Start being more efficient with your time!
The biggest value proposition the Amazon Echo family of devices provide is the ability to efficient with your time. With Alexa you don’t have to waste time searching the internet for information. You won’t need to look for your phone to create a reminder or set a timer. You can easily control your music or your smart home.
The benefits are really great with any of the Echo devices. Amazon has proven to be an innovative company that continues to dominate the online ecommerce market. Their ability to innovate and expand their services is truly remarkable.
We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Alexa and Amazon!