Yes, There *IS* an Echo in Here
Amazon is bombarding the upcoming holiday shopping season with a slew of new and improved Echo products for the home. All of them work through Alexa, the voice-activated personal digital assistant. It may seem like overkill to release this many products at once, but it’s part of Amazon’s aggressive strategy to dominate the home automation market and the Internet of Things. Here's what you need to know...
Amazon Echo Everywhere
Amazon learned the hard way that it’s too late to break into the phone market. The Amazon Fire line of smartphones was a disaster, soon discontinued. But when it comes to filling the home with consumer products ranging from books to laundry soap to gun safes, nobody does it better than Amazon.
Amazon's lineup of Kindle ebook readers have been a market-dominating success, it appears that the company’s Alexa-powered products are intended to secure and expand that hegemony. Let’s see what consumer needs are fufilled by each of these Echo products.
The original Amazon Echo ($99.99) smart speaker has shrunk and gotten new clothes. Six colored fabric sleeves are available to dress up the black cylinder. The Echo’s sound has been improved with a 2.5-inch woofer complementing the 0.6-inch tweeter. Even better, multiple Echoes can now be synchronized to play your tunes as you move from room to room. Of course, Alexa can also help you shop on Amazon, tell you the news and weather while you dress, answer homework questions, and much more.
The Echo Plus ($149.99) is the size of the first-generation Echo. Its “plus” is a built-in home automation hub that is compatible with the devices of over 100 partners. This is a big deal; home automation fans who mix and match devices from different vendors have been plagued by too many proprietary hubs.
With Alexa's help, the Echo Plus can control smart lights, thermostats, locks, garage doors, sprinklers, and more. For a limited time, the Plus comes complete with a Philips Hue smart light bulb to get you started down the smart home path.
The Echo Dot - 2nd Generation ($49.99) is a scaled-down Echo for the economy-minded, or for those who want Alexa in many rooms; if you buy three Dots, you save $20. The speaker is rather tinny, but the Dot can perform all the other functions its big sisters can.
The Echo Spot ($129.99) is an alarm clock with a 2.5-inch screen. The Spot can receive and place video or voice phone calls to friends and family who have an Echo Spot, Echo Show, or the Alexa App. The Spot can connect to larger speakers anywhere in the house, and enables voice requests for songs or audio books from Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Audible. (Spot will be
unchained released on December 19.)
The Echo Show ($229.99) has a 7-inch screen for video calls, streaming video, viewing photos or recipes, or for monitoring security cameras. Dual 2.0-inch speakers provide big sound. It, too, can play across multiple rooms equipped with Echo devices. The Show provides music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, and other sources, including lyrics.
On the downside, the Echo Show can no longer access YouTube, as Google has cut off its competitor. (YouTube is available on Google Home smart speakers.) Since Youtube is by far the most popular source of online videos, this will hurt Amazon. Of course, you can watch Amazon Video on your Echo Show.
The Echo Connect device ($34.99) is a bridge between Echo devices and landline phone wires. It can sync with the contacts on your mobile phone, enabling you to call anyone by speaking their name.
The Echo Look ($199.99) https://goo.gl/5uhbTG is a portable device for fashionistas. You can take it into the fitting room (bedroom, or bathroom) with you, and take full-length photos or video of yourself, hands-free. Then you can instantly see how you look to others. The Look includes a Style Check digital assistant that offers a second opinion or suggest new clothing brands. You can also share photos and videos with people who are not in the fitting room with you. Just be careful to choose the right contact!
And finally, one that seems a bit weird. Echo Buttons look like hockey pucks with colorful glowing buttons. Amazon says they are meant to enhance voice interactions with compatible Echo devices, and can be used to play games with friends and family. Think trivia games, where users push a button, and then say the answer.
If you're a bit overwhelmed by all the Echo gadgets, here is a handy table that summarizes and compares the features of the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Spot, and Echo Show. Scroll down a bit on that page to find the table.
Do You Feel Fine?
So there's the Echo Plus for the living room, controlling your music, lights, and locks. An Echo Show in the kitchen, for video calling and recipes. A few Echo Dots scattered around, to make sure you're surrounded by music, and quick answers to your questions. An Echo Spot in the bedroom (presumably facing your bed) to wake you up. Another one in the nursery to watch the baby. And an Echo Look in the bathroom, dispensing fashion advice as you try on clothes.
Amazon already knows everything you browse and buy. Now they're asking to be inside your house, listening, watching, waiting to be helpful. Is it silly to worry about being surrounded by so many always-on, voice-activated, video-enabled gadgets?
What do you think of Amazon's push to get its products into every corner of your home? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 29 Sep 2017
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Yes, There *IS* an Echo in Here (Posted: 29 Sep 2017)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved