Technology & its applications are changing continuously and the current trend goes on with voice assistants. Amazon’s Echo line up covers this domain in a fruitful way combining Alexa’s smart capabilities with good quality speakers.

Amazon Echo

With the increasing price of the lineup, the feature-set also increases & here is Echo which includes everything from Echo Dot, plus woofer & tweeter combo powered by Dolby and it will mean a lot to music enthusiast.

The plain speaker of Echo Dot would disappoint you if you are using it also to play music, as it lacks the power to fill a room. This gap is covered by Echo with its woofer tweeter combo.

INSIDE BOX OF AMAZON ECHO

  1. Amazon Echo 2nd gen
  2. Power adapter 21W with ~2mtr (6ft) long cable
  3. Leaflets (3nos) including instruction leaflet

ABOUT DEVICE

  1. Dimensions: 148.5 x 88 x 88 mm
  2. Weight: ~820 g
  3. WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n, Dual-band 2.4 and 5 GHz (Adhoc/peer to peer not supported)
  4. BT: A2DP Advanced Audio Distribution Profile & AVRCP Audio/Video Remote Control Profile. ( Hands-free voice control is not supported for Mac OS X devices. BT speakers requiring PIN are not supported.)
  5. Audio: 2.5” woofer and 0.6” tweeter
  6. Top: RGB LED ring, one backlit button for microphones on/off indication, Volume +/- button, & one action button
  7. Lateral: AUX-out or 3.5 mm audio output & power port

PROS

  1. Powerful room-filling subwoofer & tweeter combo with clear sound.
  2. A smart virtual assistant to help you with many regular things, just a voice command away.
  3. Even use it to impart smartness to any speaker or home theatre system via aux out.
  4. Privacy issues covered with the dedicated microphone off button.

7. Seven far-field sensitive microphones that hear you from distance even with the song playing on Echo at full volume.
8. Skillset to add further smartness to already smart Alexa. Just think of scenario & you will find skill for that eg smart home, ted talks, food ordering, music, news, to-dos, cab booking, storytelling, etc
9. Can pair with FireTV allowing you to control it with Alexa, to launch apps, play movies, songs, etc.
10. Multi-room support for music play across rooms via a group of Echo lineup devices.
11. Calling & messaging support (Alexa to Alexa).
12. It can be a standalone music player without the need for the internet using BT.
13. Can connect to an external speaker via AUX cable or BT & add voice control to it.
14. A super cool, bright & multicolored light ring which is an eye-catcher.
15. The light ring also communicates Echo statuses with the user. eg pulsing green for an incoming call, solid red for microphone off, etc.

16. Removable/Swappable fabric cover (shell) for easy cleaning/customizations. (cost is an issue though, ~2k for one shell)
17. Understands the Indian accent surprisingly well.

CONS

  1. Portability: It’s not at all portable as it requires an external power source of 21watt & even if you manage its heavy to carry around with 800+g weight. So definitely not a portable one.
  2. AUX Cable: No aux cable provided in the default package.
  3. Power Connector: Round power connector instead of micro USB or USB type C port. Maybe that’s done as it requires a good amount of power & most of the adapters out there won’t be able to provide that much power, resulting in complaints due to user negligence.
  4. No Battery: Continuous power required, but so is with every device in series. But you are without any luck if the power cut is there & you don’t have a backup. No music, no assistance. This con also hampers its portability.
  5. Limited Port Options: No RCA/Optical out for such a premium price ranged device, just an AUX.
  6. Calling & Messaging: Limited to Alexa & Alexa supported devices only.
  7. Alexa Limitation: Limited search results compared to other brand voice assistant as other one have access to vast search results

MULTIPURPOSE DEVICE, NOT JUST A MUSIC PLAYER

It’s a virtual assistant acting as a music player side by side. Apart from that, it can do many more things defined by skill sets available.
-Music
-News
-Calling & Messaging (Alexa to Alexa)
-Q & A
-Alarms & reminders
-Manage lists & Amazon orders
-Smart home control
-Device control (eg Fire TV)
-Order food & Book cabs etc etc

So if you’re getting it just to play music, it kind of defeats the whole purpose. Better spend money on the powerfull speaker system and use your phone or other devices to play music on it. You can also use Alexa or other smart assistants to control music via phone.

It’s a multipurpose device and suitable only for those who can exploit its full potential. Else you would be wasting your hard-earned money.

SETUP

If Echo’s a gift, use check-box below the “buy now” button to let Amazon know that its a gift. It will come unregistered or you can deregister the device using the Alexa app before gifting.

a) ECHO FOR PERSONAL USE (it comes preregistered to your account & is listed in Alexa app)
  1. Download the Alexa app.
  2. Plug-in the Echo.
  3. Go to device settings on the Alexa app (Devices → All Devices → Echo) and click on change next to the WiFi network.
  4. Follow the instructions to connect the Echo to WiFi or Hotspot.
  5. Talk to Alexa & enjoy its goodness.
b) ECHO WAS GIFTED TO YOU (it’s unregistered or if not, reset it or ask the one who gifted it to you to deregister it)

To Reset: Press and hold the Microphone off and Volume down buttons at the same time. Wait until the light ring turns orange (about 20 seconds).

Follow steps very carefully (steps displayed on mobile as well the ones narrated by echo) or you will keep on repeating steps without success.

  1. Download the Alexa app.
  2. Go to Devices → Click on + → Add Device → Amazon Echo → Echo
  3. Plug-in the Echo.
  4. Follow on-screen instructions to connect Echo to WiFi (Standalone WiFi network or Mobile Hotspot)
    4a. Wait for the ring to glow orange from blue. If it doesn’t, press & hold action button (button with a dot at center) for 6 seconds.
    4b. Click on continue when its orange & Alexa greets you.
  5. It asks for permission to alter mobile’s WiFi to connect to the Echo’s hotspot to transfer settings for WiFi.
  6. In the next screen select WiFi network you want to connect your Echo to and key in the details. Wait till Echo is connected to the network. Enjoy.
    or
  7. In case you will use the mobile hotspot for Echo, select that option to create a hotspot.
    (Remember to feed same hotspot details here as you have configured in android settings)
  8. Then it asks you to go to android settings to switch on the hotspot and wait there till Echo is connected.
  9. Talk to Alexa & enjoy its goodness.

FINAL VERDICT

  1. It’s not a mere music player but an integrated device which works wonderfully in coordination with supported devices like smart bulbs, switches, other echo line up, fire tv, other smart equipment.
  2. Those looking for echo only to listen to music may well settle for Alexa app on the phone which can perform a similar function, playing music via phone or even any BT speaker connected. As your purpose would be solved via this combo, you can get a good speaker for half the price.

    To be honest, if this is your primary purpose you can get a lot in 8000 range as far as the Hi-Fi speaker system is concerned.

ALTERNATIVES

  1. Echo Plus is another thing with everything Echo, plus better audio via 3.0″ woofer + 0.8″ tweeter & built-in thermometer plus a smart home hub for connecting various devices like Philips hue without purchasing an extra hub. Do keep extra cost in mind.
  2. Echo dot is a low-cost alternative to Echo as its half the price and has every feature except 2.5″ woofer – 0.6″ tweeter combo. Instead, here you have a normal 1.6″ speaker. So if you have a good speaker set or HT system at your place, you can have this and connect it to the speaker via aux cable. One thing with Dot is that you can use it as a standalone virtual assistant & music player coz of the built-in speaker, which is not the case with Echo Input.
  3. Echo Input is for ones with an extra tight budget. If you have spare Aux/BT speaker around waiting to adopt Alexa smartness at bare minimum cost, go for it. But remember its limitations as it doesn’t have a built-in speaker & is useless without any external speaker. Also if your external speaker goes to standby, you may miss an important meeting.
  4. I also consider Amazon Fire TV as an alternative to Echo in the context that if you are more into music playback & have a good music system, then ditch Echo and get FireTV. Use the Alexa app or Fire TV remote to deploy Alexa smartness. This way you have everything Alexa plus music playback via much better speaker setup. This alternative requires Fire TV, speaker system & TV to be on for it to work.
  5. Outside Alexa ecosystem, there’s Google Home or Google Home Mini, a smart assistant that comes with vast knowledge base of Google search. So the assistant thingy is much better here.

NOTE

→ Please note that it’s just a virtual assistant to give you company. Don’t rely heavily on it to kill your boredom or loneliness. 😉
→ Prime subscription is recommended to exploit its full potential. Though it will work fine even without it.

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