Monday, October 5, 2015

Amazon Echo is AMAZING!!!!

 

I’m absolutely ESTATIC about Amazon Echo. It’s so much fun, performs flawlessly, sounds great and it’s easy to use.

Here’s what it looks like up close and personal. 

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Amazon Echo came to reside in my sunroom via my youngest son Ryan in a roundabout way.  Ry turned forty in September and I wanted to buy him something special for his milestone birthday.  Being the techkie mom I am, I thought this would be the perfect gift.

I was at a girl's lunch a few weeks ago with V and Patti in New Harmony.  I was talking about Echo and Patti told me her mom had one and loved it.  So we all visited her mother, and what a delightful lady she was, anyway, Patti showed us the basics, and I decided that’s what I would get for Ryan.

Fast forward to his birthday, I was so excited about his present, he unwrapped it and was immediately skeptical, first because his internet connection isn’t the fastest, he lives in the country and doesn’t have a lot of provider options, second, he travels every week and didn’t think he would use it that much and third, he didn’t know how the kids would act with it.  We stayed with the grands while he and Lindsay went to Chicago for his birthday weekend, and the kids, while enthralled with “Alexa” (the voice you use for Echo) were constantly changing the streaming music.  Ben, at three wanted to constantly listen to Thomas the Train, and Abby at almost six was interested in other venues, and they kept interrupting each other and changing Echo to reflect what they wanted to hear.

So, maybe for his family it will work when the kids are older, but right not it doesn’t, so they brought it back to me, and did I send it back to Amazon?  Are you kidding me????  Echo is the best thing sinced sliced bread.  I love it! 

Below is a brief synopsis of how it works, and since Amazon allows third party apps, it will be constantly upgrading.  Here’s how Im using it.

News, all you say is “Alexa, what’s the latest news?”  She then gives you flash briefings from NPR.  You can set alarms and timers, too, she alerts you, just by talking to her.

Echo has access to everything in Wikipedia.  For instance if you want to know about hydrangeas just say “Alexa Wikipedia Hydrangeas” and she gives you a synopsis of the flower.   If Alexa doesn’t give you enough information, you can then refer to your smartphone for a complete rundown of the entire Wikipedia link.

You can listen to the local police/fire scanners if you’re interested in that kind of thing, not my cuppa but it we ever hear sirens, whether it be police or fire, we can find out from Echo what’s going on.  You can access audio books on it and listen to them, it’s amazing what Echo is capable of.

Echo also has Smart Home features, which enables you to control your lights, thermostat, coffee pot, even your electric blanket.  This entails buying WeMo or Hue devices, which I know nothing about, yet…  

It’s super for weather, current and forecasts from local to International and you can use it for to-do lists which sync to your smartphone.  It’s perfect for when you’re out and about and need to pick up items from the grocery or drugstore.  I know, I know, you’re all saying you already make lists on your smartphone, or you just write it down, but here’s what’s really good about Echo. 

The best part of Echo, It’s . hands . free !  You . just . talk . to it !  Period!  You don’t have to find your phone, push a button and type or text, you don’t have to look for a pencil and paper, you don’t have to put anything into your computer, you just say “Alexa, do so and so and she does it.”  Voice recognition is great, too, she understands what I’m saying 99% of the time.

Hubby says I love Alexa because I can boss her around, she doesn’t talk back and she always listens and he’s probably right.   I’ll give him that, but far and away the best part of Echo is music.

There are so many choices, Amazon Prime, Pandora, IHeartRadio, TuneIn, and Audible.  You simply tell her to play a Pandora station for instance and she starts streaming.  I’m a jazz girl, so I say “Alexa play Pandora Smooth Jazz” and she does!  If you need to pause the music, just say “Alexa Pause” and then say “Alexa Play” to have Echo start playing again.  If volume is too soft or too loud, just say “Alexa turn volume up or down” and she does that too.  I also have a remote control to use from other rooms, but she has a 30 ft. range and seven microphones, so she can hear you from another room without the remote if you aren’t too far away.

She plays all the local radio stations through TuneIn, public radio, talk radio, there are countless stations you have access too.  Well, except for Sirius Radio, it doesn’t sync to that yet, but maybe someday.  Holiday’s are coming soon, I bet Amazon sells a ton of these for Christmas.  

Here’s a video, watch it and see if it intrigues you as much as it does me.

 Echo, definitely a good thing… ~ Jan

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