I have become a techno geek for I am the proud owner of an Echo 2nd generation. I bought it from Amazon post Black Friday, whilst it was reduced. I did wonder about the Dot but decided that I really wanted a decent speaker. I'm not going to get into specifications, I'm not that much of a geek, but for the sake of approximately £30 difference I thought it was worth the extra to at least have music played from a decent set of techno-lungs, as it were. And what's not to love about the fact that's it's almost half the price of the original Echo, smaller, sleeker and with better specs (apparently. ) And you can change her clothes. Yes, the outer sleeve can be changed if
you get she gets bored of her outfit.
The Echo has apps called skills. You download the app to your phone or tablet and it's from there that you manage Alexa, set it up, browse the skills library and choose skills to enable on your device. Within the app you can change her wakeup name from Alexa. There is very limited choice though. Echo, Amazon and Computer. I have resisted the urge to rename her Computer so as I could pretend to be Captain of the SS Enterprise! So far. I might do that yet, haha.
What is the appeal of an Alexa Echo for me?
1. Well music, for one thing. I've been a 'Prime member for several years, which I first subscribed to so as I could download films for my commute (and Man in the High Castle). The next day delivery is useful of course too . What I hadn't realised was that I also get Amazon music with my Prime subscription. So without my Echo, with its techo-lungs (my description not Amazon's), I was not enjoying my subscription to its full value. And I didn't discover this until I had bought my Echo! Yes, I know that I bought it for music but imagined I'd be using Spotify or it would use YouTube somehow. I'm not really sure what I thought, other than simply that I would be able to get music on demand. The how I didn't contemplate.
2. I have installed the National Rail skill and my Alexa now remembers my commute so I can ask her 'how's my commute' and she will tell me if my morning train is running on time. This is definitely quicker than looking up on a phone app because I'm getting the update verbally whilst I'm getting dressed.
3. I can ask her for the news and she will give me a Flash brief from the BBC finishing with the weather forecast for my town.
4. My kindle experience has been interesting. Alexa can read from my last location if I sync my Kindle. This was useful over Xmas as I was able to have my book read to me whilst tidying up etc during the holidays. There isn't much intonation but I got used to that. It is possible to enable the Audible skill but I'm not going to pay for an Audible subscription when I normally read my kindle on the train. For me the beauty is that Alexa is reading to me where I left off and not an entirely different book.
5. The shopping list and to do list skills are useful. It's handy to just say Alexa add grey tights to shopping list (even if she interpreted it as great heights, and when I queried it to argue with her she played back to me what I'd said! That's a handy facility if she has minsintpreted to an extent you can't make out what she has written) or add persuade hub to join the gym to todo list.
And don't think that you then need to take Alexa to the supermarket to access the list. Oh no. Those clever people at Amazon thought about that. Your lists appear in written form within the app on your phone. Handy that! On the other hand, if like me you write a list it's easy to ask Alexa what is in your list so as you can jot it down whilst you are scribbling up your main list.
6. Random questions
Is it going to rain tonight? This was as I was heading out for an evening. She responded with the news that my town was not expecting rain. And she was right.
What shall I wear tonight? Her answer, you can't go wrong with statement shoes. She's right there!
7. Recipes and cocktails are skills that can be enabled, and I have. I can't tell you how useful they are yet as I haven't used her for the kitchen yet.
8. Setting a reminder has been useful. Remind me to charge my I pad. She will ask me at what time. Sure enough at 6.30 am whilst I was dressing she piped up with ' here's your reminder to charge your ipad'. But not only that, she said it twice and sent the reminder to my phone.
9. I have set a wake up alarm too. You can even choose to be woken up with a radio station. No cup of tea yet. In that respect she's not as advanced as a teasmade (which shows you how advanced I am, in years.)
10. I do enjoy the ease of finding a radio station such as Radio 4, Heart etc. No faffing with a dial and interference.
Have you got an Echo and if so what have you found useful?