The Amazon Echo is now available to everyone for purchase. Previously an invitation was required to purchase the Echo. Its current release date is July 16th, 2015 and it retails for $179.99 ($149.99 for Prime Members). Not bad pricing for what’s basically a smart Bluetooth speaker. But even at this price, is the Amazon Echo worth it?
Buy the Amazon Echo
While I do like my Echo, I recognize that it’s not for everyone. To help you decide if the Amazon Echo is right for you, I put together a long list of its compelling features as well as some of its limitations and drawbacks. Please see the Amazon Echo pros and cons below.
Amazon Echo Pros and Cons
Amazon Echo Pros:
Here are some of the benefits and advantages of the Amazon Echo:
- My primary reason for getting the Echo is for playing music. I really like being able to play a song or playlist using verbal commands. Echo does a good job understanding what I am asking. Echo can even ID the song that is currently playing, which is nice.
- Music can be accessed from your Amazon music library, Pandora, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio. If you are a Prime Member, you will also have access to Prime Music. You can also upload your music to Amazon Prime.
- My second favorite use is asking Echo for news, sports scores, and weather. It works really well for these uses. I think people that own the Echo will actually use these features. Of note, I work from home so I didn’t get much use out of the traffic feature.
- Echo can hear you from great distances and over somewhat loud music. Its speech recognition is pretty good and fast, assuming you are using commands it understands.
- Lots of features have been added over time. More features are expected.
- Includes a remote control similar to the Fire TV remote.
- You can ask Echo fun facts but it doesn’t work as well as Google Now.
- Echo has a lot of jokes so it’s sure to keep young kids (and some old ones) entertained.
- The price is pretty good considering it’s more than just a speaker.
Amazon Echo Cons:
Here are the things I don’t like about the Echo (disadvantages).
- Audio is good but not great. Amazon would see a billion of these if the audio was better.
- Functionality is limited when compared to smartphone apps such as Siri and Google Now
- Usefulness might be challenged by the Cortana app arriving on PCs this summer
- No ability to search within a playlist
- Even with all the improvements added this year, it still needs more killer apps before it will be a must-have device
I don’t see myself using shopping lists, timers, or alarms. My phone handles these tasks better and is always with me. 🙂
Suggested Improves for the Amazon Echo
Here is how I would change the Amazon Echo:
- Make available a more expensive version of the Echo, with better audio and deep bass.
- Spotify Support. Apple Music would be cool too. Since these are Amazon Music competitors, I wonder if these services will ever be available.
- Allow us to connect a pair of Echos and use them as stereo speaks for an audio system or home theater system.
- Provide an optional battery pack for outdoor use.
- Skype support
- Ability to link multiple Echos for an intercom system
- Ability to hear what’s coming soon to Amazon Video, Prime Video
- Ability to hear what’s coming out in theaters this week
Should You Buy the Amazon Echo?
I really love my Echo. I like being able to verbally play a song that randomly pops in my head. I like the news briefings and the ability to get sports scores. Since I’m a prime member, I can also access Prime music with the Echo which I find cool. This is how I mostly use the device.
I think I will really get the most out of the echo once I start using the “connected home” functionality.
The price is pretty good, considering it’s more than just a speaker. This is especially true for Prime Members that got a discount. At $99 bucks, it was a steal!
Echo isn’t for everyone. If you expect to talk to it like you do your smartphone, you will be disappointed. The audio quality, while decent, does not compare to similarly priced, dedicated speakers. Yes, Echo is more than a speaker. I just believe it needs to be a good speaker before it’s anything else.
I currently recommend the Echo for only early adopters and people that like gadgets. It’s definitely a great conversational piece. I just hope the next version features better audio. Perhaps Amazon can sell multiple versions of the Echo including one with great audio.
Buy the Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What music can I play with Echo?
A: You can access music from your Amazon music library, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Prime Music.
Q: Do I need Amazon Prime in order to use the Echo?
A: No. Note that Prime members can access Prime Music with their Echo.
Q: Do Echo support Spotify or Apple Music?
A: No, and no.
Q: How do you temporarily stop Echo from listening?
A: Press the mute button on the top of the device.
Q: How do I access Echo from the web?
Q: Can Echo repeat a response?
A: Yes. Say “Alexa, can you repeat that?”
Q: What are some funny things to ask Echo?
Alexa, roll a die.
Alexa, random fact
Alexa, Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.
Alexa, beam me up.
Alexa, I am your father.
Alexa, open the pod bay doors.
Alexa, to be or not to be.
Alexa, how much wood can a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Alexa, who’s your daddy?
Alexa, what is the meaning of life?
Alexa, when is the end of the world?
Alexa, what is the best tablet?
Alexa, which comes first: the chicken or the egg?
Alexa, who you gonna call?
Alexa, make me breakfast.
Alexa, show me the money.
Alexa, random number between “x” and “y”.
Alexa, I want the truth!
Alexa, who loves you baby?
Alexa, who let the dogs out?