There is lot of buzz going around Alexa enabled devices like Dot, Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Spot, Tap and so on. Being diving deep on writing an honest feedback of Amazon Echo, let me tell you what is Alexa.
What is Alexa
Alexa is nothing but cloud based voice service system. It is an intelligent digital assistant to the devices like Echo, Dot etc. It is capable of voice interaction like siri or kortana, smart music playback, creating to-do lists on the fly in the cloud, setting alarms, streaming defined podcasts, providing weather, traffic, and other real-time information, such as news, holiday dates, personality or country information and what not.
Alexa is a big hit product from Amazon. If you wonder why we should start using such smart devices, then let me tell you that according to wikipedia ; Amazon had more than 5,000 employees working on Alexa and related products as on September, 2017. You can read more on Amazon Alexa in wikipedia
There are many popular Alexa enabled Amazon devices available. Some of them are:
Let’s talk about the intelligent device Amazon Echo
As this post is about the feedback/review of Amazon echo 2nd generation which was launched few months back in India. I bought the black colored Amazon Echo shown below.
Now, You would ask What is Amazon Echo
Then, think of Amazon Echo as a wireless/bluetooth speaker with a built in an awesome intelligent Alexa powered virtual assistant. It connects to smart home products like Philips Hue, SmartThings, Hive etc. as well as your Spotify account, Saavn, Amzon music prime for music playing. You can even play songs and listen surround sound echo speaker with your smartphone. You can even use it with laptop through wifi or bluetooth connection.
Why Amazon Echo and my observations
Well, many people may think that it is nothing but a bluetooth speaker or siri like enabled speaker. Why One should buy it just for listening songs.
Well, it’s not just a bluetooth speaker. It is like an add-on to the device. It’s main purpose is to connect your smarthome hub devices. You can use alexa skills to build your own quiz app, news flash app, kids app etc.
What I observed and why I bought Amazon Echo
- Its Easy to setup
- It can connect with bluetooth to your phone, laptop etc.
- You just need to download alexa app in your mobile and you are good to go
- It understands Indian accents very well
- Its Clean audio and simple voice control
- Good Documentation: Alexa echo 2nd generation user guide: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/customerdocumentation/Alexa+Devices/Echo_(2nd+Generation)_QSG_US.pdf
- It Plays songs from saavn, amazon music etc. Though You can set the priority in music search
- No battery, need power point all the time
- It can listen you even it’s playing song
- It can read the books from amazon kindle
- One year Amazon prime membership. If you already have prime membership, it will extend it.
- Early access to amazon prime music.
- You can set rules, say Alexa good morning and it will start reading flash brief news for you.
- Sound quality is good. can’t compare with bose, sonos etc., but with this price it is just cool. My purpose was not just to listen song but to play with Alexa skills. But I got good speaker with it as well. So, I opted for Echo instead of Echo Plus. The Echo’s sound quality is slightly unpleasant sometime specially when you put it at high volume. It has weak bass at high volumes.
- Develop and deploy your own alexa skill. I am working on it. I will publish few tutorials on it very soon.
- Traffic condition is still not available in India in Amazon echo.
Alexa calling is not available in India yet.Alexa calling is enabled for Indian version now. But that person must have signed up for Alexa to get or receive call.
- Alexa Voice profile settings is missing in Indian version.
- Still echo is learning, so alexa app is buggy sometimes
- It’s capturing whatever you say to it
- Google Home and Apple Homepod are its competitors
- If you play song from your laptop through bluetooth, and you say alexa stop. It will still play songs in background at minimal voice.
Note: If you’re looking for the awesome audio experience, then this is not the product for you. You should probably buy Echo Dot and pair it with a high-quality speaker like Bose, JBL etc. , or the newly Alexa powered Sonos Play products.
How you can buy Alexa enabled Devices in India
You can buy Alexa enabled Devices from Amazon (India) like Echo Dot, Echo, Echo Plus, wifi- plug, wi-fi smart enabled LED bulb, video security camera etc.
What is the first step, once you buy Amazon Echo
Once you get your Amazon Echo device. Uncover it and just put the power plug in socket and connect it with Echo device. You are done. Below is the image of my first Echo device.
Below are the steps to enjoy Amazon Echo without hassle:
- Connect your Echo with power supply
- Install the Amazon Alexa app on your phone with the above given link.
- Connect your smartphone or tablet or ipad etc to your Echo’s Wi-Fi network. It will show in your wifi network something like Echo-BDX
- Switch to the app and choose Set up a new device
- If prompted, enter your Amazon username and password.
- Now, Select your Wi-Fi network and enter its password, if asked.
- Your Amazon Echo device is ready to use. Have fun!
It’s time to play with Amazon Echo
I tried to give as many different instructions as I can in lesser time. And it worked great. Except few instructions it worked properly with the Indian english accent. Otherwise siri, kortana all are kind of US accent compatible.
Few of the instructions that I said to Echo (You need to wake the device with a wakeup word. Alexa is one the wakeup word ):
- Alexa what is the meaning of diaspora
- Alexa what’s the date of birth of Salman khan
- Alexa play ‘johny johny yes papa’
- Alexa play ghazal
- Alexa play hanuman chalisa
- Alexa play marathi songs
- Alexa play bhojpuri songs
- Alexa play songs by Ghulam Ali
- Alexa play ‘diljit dosanjh songs’
- Alexa play ‘suit suit by guru randhawa’
- Alexa play ‘Jaguar by Bohemia’
- Alexa Play Lakhbir singh lakha songs
- Alexa pause
- Alexa stop
- Alexa play
- Alexa what’s the date today
- Alexa what’s the time now
- Alexa play all black by Sukhe
- Alexa volume up
- Alexa volume down
- Alexa what’s the weather today
- Alexa play chu chu tv
- Alexa open acloud.guru
This is how Alexa Flash briefing order settings looks like:
You will get few cards along with amazon echo to try like music commands, news reminder etc.
There is one more card , I can’t stop myself to click and share with you guys 😉
I tried to record a 2 minutes video for live demo. Here is the youtube video:
That’s it my friend. I am done with the review of Amazon Echo (2nd Generation), in India. I hope it would be helpful for you, if you are planning to buy Echo.
Feel free to ask any question related to Amazon Echo here. And please don’t forget to share it at the social media.
He is a Computer Science graduate form CUSAT and having 8+ years of experience in web development, #Perl, #Python, Web Security. He is currently involved with #Cloud Security and #AWS Technologies.
He has authored 2 books and reviewed more than 9 books from PACKT on Python, AWS Services, #CyberSecurity etc. Moreover, he likes to teach since his college days and has given many sessions on Perl, Python, CyberSecurity and AWS Fundamentals online.
His interest is to learn and implement Machine Learning in CyberSecurity and Security Automation using Python by leveraging AWS platform.