Amazon Echo - Siri thing from Amazon because their phone bombed


I bought an Echo in December but returned it. We have an older Logitech Squeezebox boom that sounds noticeably better than the Echo but its hardware could not keep up with newer versions of the DRM from various music services.

Ended up deciding that neither prime music nor the ability to use voice to do things that otherwise require pulling the phone of pocket justified the price of the Echo. Bought a Chromecast Audio for the Squeezebox and I’m quite happy with that. Waiting for the ability to simulcast with a regular Chromecast (that is hooked up to the stereo + TV) - if that happens it will be perfect.


I would say if you’re not invested in Amazon’s system, the Echo isn’t worth it. I know their push of these machines though guide people to Prime. I just happened to be a Prime member prior to that and got it very cheaply because of that too. When I first got the Echo… it didn’t do half the things it does now.


Yep, it helps to have Prime with an Echo. Theres a ton of free music you can add to your playlist, through Prime. I have a Smart things hub so I can also voice control most of the lighting in my home now, as well as control my thermostat. I can even unlock my front door without leaving the couch. Access to news and sports updates is nice as well. The Echo is not a necessity in the home but it is nice to have. Media integrated with home automation is a great thing to have and the Echo is likely just one of many of these things that will be available in the near future.


As a cord cutter, I’ve used a number of products from third parties in the past. Now I realize the Echo isn’t in that realm really, but my point of bringing that up is Amazon has been more consistent in quality and support compared to others, even names like Vizio. My graveyard of smart devices beyond Amazon and Roku is sad. I am sure there will be alternatives in the future; I will be curious how well they do.


Appreciate the responses, everybody :)


My Fire TV is connected to a $20 Bluetooth audio receiver which is connected to a (shudder) set of $0 PC speakers via a 3.5 mm jack. I control it with a Fire TV game controller because I misplaced the official Fire TV remote, and use it for 80% TuneIn Radio and 20% Netflix.

Would an Echo integrate well into this setup and improve it much? I don’t really need any of Echo’s unique features just yet, mainly just eyeing it as a possible speaker replacement with the bonus of hands-free voice control, and not sure how well it would mesh with what I already have.


Probably? But would you be even better off putting your $180 into some other solution? Maybe a pair of sub-$50 bookshelf speakers plus a cheap (used?) stereo amp.


We have a Sonos wifi speaker we tote from room to room if we feel like music. I don’t see myself asking too many questions of an Echo. But can you say something like, “Echo, send me a text on Wednesday that my English assignment is due on Thursday, and then remind me again Thursday morning. Oh, and I have social studies stuff due on next Monday.” Can it do something like that?


I don’t think there are scheduled tasks yet. So while you could use the Echo Timer as a simple alarm, you wouldn’t be able to have it do anything other than make a sound or whatever it does (e.g. a song, playlist or, using your example, a text or an email).

Reading more about this, it looks like you could create new “interactions” through the Alexa Skills Kit. Not sure if you could combine interactions or create interactions with multiple components or sub-interactions, though.


Oh, that’s a bummer. I use the “remind me to…” command in Google Now all the time.


The NYT’s tech guy had a very nice piece about Alexa today. Said it has surprised him just how much his family had come to use it, and how Amazon might have the tech that Apple and Google are desperately looking for.


I would love a device that could understand my verbal commands and send me reminders. Even dictating a simple grocery list and telling it to text it to me would be nice.


We’ve had our Echo for several months now, and it’s simply become an appliance in our kitchen.

I no longer set timers on the oven because it’s simply quicker and easier to set one with the Echo.

I probably use it two or three times per home-cooked meal that I create to convert measurements: “Alexa, how many tablespoons are in a cup?” “Alexa, how many teaspoons in a fluid ounce?”

We’re Prime customers and my kids are big Pandora and Spotify users, so after dinner there is a competition to see who will be the first to determine the music for washing dishes.

Probably the #1 thing we ask the device is for the weather forecast in the morning and again in the evening. This is info that we’d previously pull up on the phone or get from the news, but having it on-demand from the Echo is so quick and easy that we tend to just go to it first-thing.

I (and I alone in my house) like to hear the NPR “daily briefing” in the morning rather than watch the local commerci – er, the local news.

My 8th-grade daughter uses the Echo with her homework to a middling extent. The definitions for vocabulary words, a summary of certain concepts from her Civics class, or even the definition of mathematics terms (“Alexa, what is ‘the associative property of addition’?”). It’s pretty good with this, but it’s not a lot faster than typing it into a tablet or phone, and in the latter case you get text (more useful), not a verbal response.

Every once in a while, we’ll use it to retrieve information that we would have Googled previously. “Alexa, what time does the Republican debate start?”

I think the biggest disappointment with the device is with our music library. 90% of the stuff we own was bought through Apple or else ripped from our old CD collection and stored in iTunes, which does not integrate “natively” with the Echo. My eldest daughter slaves the Echo to her iPhone through Bluetooth and plays the music that way (an escalation in the dish-washing music wars), but it would be a lot nicer if we could ask for artists or songs the way we can wih my (piddly) Amazon Music library.


You can also use IFTTT with the Echo. For instance, when I add something to my Echo shopping list, it appears on my iPhone in the Reminders app (using this recipe).


It sounds like this stuff is only going to get better, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple come out with something like the Echo. I would love for it to set reminders for me. I’d love for it to help me find a good Netflix movie to watch – “I’m in the mood for a spy movie, something from the last 10 years that got over a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes…” – that kind of thing. The homework thing could be great. The way this thing should work is that anything you might try to google should be doable through something like Alexa.

What I’d like it to do is listen to my requests and then sometimes email or text me the answers. “Alexa, what movies are playing at the nearby AMC theaters tonight, and what restaurants with good ratings are nearby. And are there any Groupon or Living Social deals for nearby restaurants. Send me an email.” This is the kind of thing I’d sit down at my PC and research. I’d like to just give verbal commands to Alexa. Or something like Alexa.


Hearing how you guys are using the Echo is pretty cool. I’m not that old (38) but a lot of this stuff would sound like pure science fiction not that long ago! I can’t imagine where we’ll be in another 20 years.


I’ve got a friend that loves his echo too-- keeps it in the kitchen, lots of the same uses you guys mentioned. I can see the appeal, although I don’t want one myself-- I passed on it at $99.


Amazon is hooking this stuff up to financial services via the vile Bank of America. I sense a giant hacking opportunity for nerdowells.


Echo is definitely way better than other voice recognition services like Siri or Cortana. It is very sensitive and hardly ever gets something wrong. In a year or two it’ll definitely be worth it.


hahah, jpinard said nerd do wells.