Amazon Echo and Echo Dot: What Can It Do For You?

Whether you’re thinking of getting an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, hear people talking about “Alexa,” or not sure what an Echo is, here are some of the things you can do with one.

Both Lowes and Home Depot have the Echo available online and some stores will have them in stock.

Amazon Echo  is a voice-enabled wireless speaker developed by Amazon.com. The device consists of a 9.25-inch tall cylinder speaker with a seven-piece microphone array. The device responds to the name “Alexa”; this “wake word” can be changed by the user to either “Amazon” or “Echo”.

Remember watching Star Trek and thinking all those devices would never really happen? We seem to get closer all the time!The Echo has grown to become one of the best ways to control smart home devices, such as lights, thermostats, locks, and more with just your voice.

We’ve got to a point where we have to decide if it’s easier to turn your lights on with an Alexa voice command or get out your smartphone, unlock it, load an app, and push a button. Sometimes, I just walk over to the light switch!

The Echo also lets you set alarms, timers, catch up on the news, and yes, buy things from Amazon with simple voice commands. And its wireless speaker capabilities have expanded with support for Pandora and Spotify. As a result, the Echo has quickly become one of Amazon’s best-selling products, even more popular than its Kindle line of e-readers.

Ships from and sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC.
  • Plays all your music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice
  • Fills the room with immersive, 360º omni-directional audio
  • Allows hands-free convenience with voice-control
  • Hears you from across the room with far-field voice recognition, even while music is playing
  • Answers questions, reads audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and more using the Alexa Voice Service
  • Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms, and more
  • Connects to speakers or headphones through Bluetooth or 3.5 mm stereo cable to play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn
  • Controls lights, fans, switches, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, and more with compatible connected devices from WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, ecobee, and others
  • Includes a built-in speaker so it can work on its own as a smart alarm clock in the bedroom, an assistant in the kitchen, or anywhere you might want a voice-controlled computer

Available services

Echo offers weather from AccuWeather and news from a variety of sources, including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn. Echo can play music from Amazon Music accounts and has built-in support for the Pandora and Spotify music services and has support for IFTTT and Nest Thermostats.

Just How Can The  Amazon Echo Dot Help You?

“Alexa” is Amazon’s voice-activated virtual assistant.  You wake her up by saying her name, or by saying one of your two other wake word options, “Amazon” or “Echo.”  The microphones inside of the Echo is always listening, and when they hear the wake word, they’ll record whatever you say next and send it off through the cloud to Amazon’s servers. Those servers will try to figure out what you’re asking for, then tell Alexa how to respond. All of this happens in about a second.

  • Alexa, turn the heat up to 72
  • Alexa, turn the bedroom lights on
  • Alexa, find the nearest pizza place that delivers
  • Alexa, play some Beatles music
  • Alexa, whats the weather like today in….
  • Alexa, how many miles and travel time to…
  • Alexa, lets create a shopping list

Cost of Amazon Echo and Echo Dot

Recently named one of the best smart home devices, Amazon Echo retails for around $179. The Amazon Echo Dot is around $50.  Both Lowes and Home Depot have them available online, and some locations do have them in store.

The Dot is a smaller but still powerful version of the Amazon Echo. What it lacks in speaker system it makes up for with an audio-out port and Bluetooth connectivity. The $50 price tag and Alexa’s usefulness make the Dot a solid option for anyone who wants to start building a connected smart home today.

You can find the best prices for Amazon Echo Here.

You can find the best prices for Amazon Echo Dot Here.

Update: Given the success of the Amazon Echo, you knew the competition was right around the corner!  With the release of Google Home, Echo’s place on top is no longer secure. Google Home sells for around $130 so its really going for the Amazon Echo crowd and not Echo Dot. Look for Google to bring an Echo Dot style model to consumers in 2017.

By Victoria Stone

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