Here's what you need to know about Amazon Echo and Alexa
By clicking one of our links you're supporting our labs and our independence, as we may earn a small share of revenue. Recommendations are separate from any business incentives.
From playing your favorite tunes to hailing you an Uber to turning on your lights, the Amazon Echo is the smart assistant you never knew you needed. It's not terribly expensive (plus, you can find great sale prices on occasion) and all you need to make it work is a WiFi connection. Let's take a look at the Amazon Echo to see what makes it tick—and what it can do.
The Echo, which normally runs around $99, is a smart speaker, personal assistant, and smart home assistant that can sit on a table or counter in your living room or kitchen (or anywhere you'd like). There are several different models to choose from, but all can blend in well with just about any décor without looking too futuristic.
While there are a few buttons on the top for adjusting volume or turning the microphone on and off, one of the Echo’s best attributes is that it can be operated completely hands-free. With a WiFi connection and the sound of your voice, you can command your Echo to do all sorts of amazing things for you via its onboard personality, Alexa.
The Echo’s downward-firing woofer and upward-firing tweeter work together to bring resonant tones and fill your home with high-quality sound, perfect for playing music. It also has seven microphones along the top of the device under its light ring, and is skilled at recognizing your voice—even when there is a lot of background noise.
Alexa allows you to enable various app-like skills, which can then be tasked with entertaining you, helping you be more productive, or running your home. There are thousands of ways Alexa, via your Echo, can be a huge help to your household.
You can ask your Echo to set a timer, or tell you the weather, the schedule for your favorite NFL team, or even a joke (yes, really). You can also ask your Echo to do things like add items to your calendar, create and then add to a to-do list, create a shopping list, set alarms, or set reminders for yourself, to name just a few.
Use the Echo to play music, whether it's from your Spotify playlist, your Amazon Music subscription, or something else. You can ask it to play radio stations, certain genres of music, and certain playlists. You can even try to find out what specific songs are based on a snippet of lyrics.
You can also ask for the news, random information your kids ask ("Why are bananas yellow?"), statistics, dictionary definitions, how to spell a word, and translations. You can buy from Amazon straight from your Echo, too.
Don't forget about those smart home skills. There are oodles of smart devices that are compatible with Alexa, like smart bulbs, so once you get them set up and connected, you can control them with your voice—and even with your Alexa app when you're not at home (or when you’re trying not to wake the baby with your talking).
The Echo is a relatively inexpensive smart assistant, but if the price tag is a little high, the smaller Echo Dot that often goes on sale as well—and its base price is only $49.99 to start. While the Dot is just as capable a smart speaker as the larger Echo, music fans will prefer the Echo’s superior sound quality.
Either way, the Amazon Echo is a robust smart speaker that can help keep your life on track, keep your lights on (or off), and can entertain you, too.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.