After so many recommendations from friends and family about the new Amazon Echo which launched last year, I decided to go for it and see for myself what all the fuss was about. Oh. My. Word. You know how you felt before you got your first smart phone… can it be really be this good?… well the Echo is the same, it is THAT good.
It arrived in a luxury black box and inside were just three items – the Amazon Echo, (I ordered black but it’s available in white as well) the power lead and a small square leaflet. All perfectly packed, just gorgeous and so exciting. That was it – no unwieldly manual, no bits to try to put together (I hate instruction manuals)- it just made complete sense. I took the Echo out of the packaging and plugged it in and downloaded the App on my phone, entered my Wifi code and couldn’t believe that was all I had to do. The Echo started to light up – a gorgeous rim of colour lit up and then ‘Alexa’ spoke – Alexa is the name that the Echo responds to. It’s a voice activated, multi-media home speaker and it has so many uses including linking up to your Spotify account and if you don’t subscribe to Spotify, Amazon offer Amazon Music which you can get when you subscribe to Amazon Prime for £79 per year.
I’ve currently got my Echo in my kitchen – the speaker is so good and can hear your command even through noisy kids and cooking. Alexa answers questions, reads audiobooks, reports news, traffic and weather, provides sports scores and schedules, and can even control lights, switches, thermostats and more with compatible connected devices from WeMo, Philips Hue, Hive, Netatmo, Nest, tado° and others. The kids love it – its just so easy to pick tracks, swap to another – play them music I used to listen to and so on.
The thing I love most is that it’s totally hands-free – you can access any music or radio station you want, you can set a kitchen timer when you’re cooking, and you can even manage your weekly shopping list all by simple voice recognition. Yes, I can just stand in the kitchen, go round my fridge and cupboards and call out items and it automatically enters them on a shopping list in my App for me. I love it!
I’ve signed up to Amazon Prime (free 30 day trial available) now so I get free, one-day delivery as well as access to Amazon Video which has so many good programmes on it as well as Music and it also gives me access to Amazon Pantry which I ordered for the first time on Sunday. Competitively priced pantry items (only non-perishable items like flour and washing powder, Amazon Fresh is due to launch soon) which arrive next day. Now I’ve ordered, I can now ask Alexa to order single items so for example, i could say ‘Alexa, order more washing powder’ and it will automatically add that item to my Amazon account and then order it for me! Am so impressed and have become an absolute Amazonian convert now.
The Amazon Echo is £149.99, there’s also a basic version called the Amazon Dot for £49.99 which I’ve seen is just as good. The advantage of the Echo is that it has a really good 360 speaker sound, even my husband was impressed. Honestly it’s one of the best items I’ve bought in years, is comparable to the feeling I have about my phone. I just need Alexa to make dinner and clean the oven and I’m sorted!