Device Decisions

The Growing Echo Line Up

Amazon now has a bevy of devices seemingly to try to fit into the many niches of our lives. But it certainly can be a bit confusing for consumers to decide which device to purchase, even when buying more than one.  So let’s start at the beginning and then things to consider when deciding which Echo might be best fit for the over 65 pop or gifting to a loved one.

The Amazon Echo – launched to prime members November 2014

Here is the original verbiage ” Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service for music, news, sports scores, weather and more…instantly”

The Original Line up

Amazon Echo

2.5″ tall cylinder
7-piece microphone array
Requires wifi connection
Must be plugged into power
Ideal if want stationary speaker

Echo Dot

1.6″ tall cylinder
One speaker
Has 3.5mm output jack
Bluetooth
Small, one speaker, output jack

Amazon Tap

6.2″ tall cylinder
7-piece microphone
Wireless
Charge in cradle
Small, portable, affordable

Gaining in Popularity

We now have a Second generation Echo and Dot, (the Tap is really a non-starter in my opinion). The Echo Plus adds a smart hub, the Echo Show brings a screen to the Echo, the the Echo Spot is the Shows’ small round cousin.  There are now plenty of bundles with smart lightbulbs, the Fire TV stick, and more.  Then there are Dashes, Buttons, and the Echo Look camera. Phew! Let’s look at the current lineup of primary devices

The Main Current Echo Products

Echo Show

Shows content on 7″ display
Optimized for visuals
2megapixel camera
Amazon Video Content
See your Music lyrics
Hands-free video calling

Amazon Spot

The Echo Spot is mashup of the Dot and Show
Can connect to home speakers
Bluetooth & 3mm output
Front-facing camera
Supports Prime Video

Echo - 2nd gen

Better room-filling sound
7 microphones
Proximity aware
Smaller form factor
Fully featured
Price dropped from Original

Getting Smarter

As users have adopted the new voice technology speakers,  a few insights and needs have popped up which I believe Amazon has begun to move on to make things easier and to fill the early stage gaps. Connecting smart devices, – be it a smart plug, smart lock, light bulbs, thermostat, or other – is quickly gaining traction. Amazon recently introduced two new additions to their line up.

Amazon Echo Plus

The Echo Plus does everything the Echo does, but includes a smart hub. It’s ideal for those who would rather purchase smart lightbulbs (yes, they’re a bit expensive), and avoid the inconvenience or difficulty in connecting another smart device to your wifi network. Since the Echo Plus has its own smart hub, you don’t need to connect another hub to connect to your gadgets. It simplifies the process

Echo Connect

The Echo Connect is interesting. The Connect device plugs  into your home landline phone and makes all of your Echo devices speaker phones. This is a unique use case offering great capability for those who are unable to pick up a regular phone.  Additionally, because the Connect device is plugged into a landline, it is possible to call emergency services, ie. 911.  Something to think about for older adults, just for that feature perhaps.

Who’s Alexa

 

Basically, Alexa is to Amazon, what Siri is to Apple. Alexa is the female voice that answers questions and more when you use your Echo device or other Alexa-enabled hardware.  Here is how Amazons developer page explains Alexa:

“The Alexa Voice Service (AVS) is Amazon’s intelligent voice recognition and natural language understanding service that allows you to voice-enable any connected device that has a microphone and speaker.”

 If you have an Echo device, Alexa will quickly become your friend!

Things To Consider

If You don’t have any Alexa devices yet….

  • And you don’t need to check on or care for a loved one, elderly folks or to video chat
  • Audio volume is a concern
  • Recommendation: Buy an Echo – audio volume matters

If price is a main concern, but still want Alexa device…

  • Sound quality is not a concern
  • Music quality is not a big deal
  • Recommendation: Buy an Echo Dot

If you don’t have any Alexa devices yet…

  • Sound volume is a concern
  • Music and audio quality matters to you
  • You have an external sound system
  • Recommendation: buy the Dot or the Echo Spot, and connect to your sound system

If you already have an Echo device and want an add on device for a secondary room (ie. bedroom)

  • Music quality is not a concern
  • Recommendation: Buy an Echo Dot

If you want an Echo device…

  • you want to video chat with the grand kids
  • You want to watch videos
  • Or share photos
  • Recommendation: Buy an Echo Show

You care about fall prevention for yourself or a loved one…

  • Recommendation.. purchase the Echo Connect, along with whatever Echo you choose. Connects to landline and capable of calling 911

 

 

Hi Alexa!

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