When you invest in an Amazon Echo speaker, you’re not just getting the hardware in the deal but the entire Amazon ecosystem which allows you to take control of your life, your music and the devices in your home.
There are three products in the range – the Echo Dot ($79), the Echo ($149) and the Echo Plus ($229) which all have varying degrees of audio quality and processing that can all give you a remarkable amount of information and control of your smart devices at home.
Each is your gateway to the latest news, the weather, sports results, recipes, your calls, your calendar along with access to your music and a host of other services which are called “skills”.
Then of course, there are other devices you can control like lights, switches and the appliances connected to them, the temperature in your home and your security cameras.
Set up of these devices is fairly straightforward through the Amazon Alexa app that walks users through the process and eventually connects the speakers to your wireless network.
This went smooth for our review and only took a few minutes to complete.
What was interesting was the fact that each of the speakers thought my location was in Westlake in Western Australia. I actually live in Sydney in NSW and had to enter my address manually.
Overall, Alexa is quite accurate and can hear you even from across the room.
Each speaker has an array of seven microphones that use being forming technology and noise cancellation to zero in on the person who says the wake word “Alexa”.
And the more we used to live better and more responsive it got.
Echo can play multi-room music, give you movie showtimes and even read your Kindle e-books to you.
And tadding your smart devices to Echo is remarkably easy. All you need to do is say “Alexa, discover my devices” and that’s exactly what happens.
The ones that aren’t picked up like this can be added quite easily throng the Amazon Alexa app.
One area where Amazon stands out from the rest are the skills which allow you to find information, request certain services and get tasks done.
For example, you can check your Qantas flight status, ask hipages to find your tradesmen, check your Westpac and National Australia Bank balance and check on your Amaysim mobile account plus much much more.
Amazon has formed these strategic partnerships to make their devices even more useful and valuable in a person’s life.
That’s the extra mile the company has gone to to create features and capabilities other smart speakers can’t match.
ECHO DOT ($79)
This is the smallest product in the Echo family and can be used on its own or connected to a larger music system to turn that into a connected smart device.
Audio quality through the Echo Dot is fairly average through its on-board single speaker but when connected either via Bluetooth or a cable to another speaker, it’s a different story altogether.
AMAZON ECHO ($149)
The mid -sized Echo speaker sounds noticeably better than the Dot thanks to the Dolby-powered tweeters and downward firing 2.5-inch subwoofer.
Amazon Echo stands at 14.8cm high and has the same controls on the top panel as the other speakers in the range.
If you’re a member of Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify or TuneIn, you can hear music, artists, playlists and podcasts just by asking for it.
ECHO PLUS ($229)
This is the top-of-the-line model and not only because it is the largest speaker in the lineup.
The device, which is 23.5cm tall, has a built-in Zigbee smart home hub for even simpler and direct set up of compatible lights, locks and more from a number of brands.
Sound quality when listening to music is impressive and far better than its smaller family members.
Clarity is respectable but the base is a touch on the weak side.
If your main use for the speaker is to hear music, we recommend spending the extra money and going for the Echo Plus.
The Amazon Echo speakers are extremely useful tools to have in your home and they can become a useful addition to get things done, hear your favourite music and control your home.
The additional skills from partner companies, and there will be many more, will make the Echo speakers and Alexa an even more valuable part of your life.