Skip to main content

My first day with the Amazon Echo

There's no reason to give you a full review of Amazon's Echo, my colleagues have already said plenty on that score.

Instead I wanted to explain what living with Echo is like after one day. Yes, that's how long I've had the device, so this is a "first impressions" in the truest sense, and they run all over the place.

First, Echo has very solid build quality; it's a hefty device and it's very easy to set up - plug it in, download the Android app and you're on your way. The app walks you through the process and there isn't a whole lot to it.

The first thing you'll need to get past is the creepy factor. You now have a device in your home that is always listening to you (opens in new tab). That information goes to Amazon and the device provides instant responses. You'll need to get past this weird feeling and move on.

You can ask Echo the weather or a sports score or tell it to play music - Amazon Prime, Pandora, etc. It is a speaker, though there's no physical volume control and it plays at a bit of a low level for my taste, so you'll need to tell it what level you want on a scale of one to ten.

As for questions, it learns from each thing asked. It started out giving me the weather for Pittsburgh. I'm sure it's a very nice city, but I live nowhere close to it. I learned quickly to specify my city and state and it has now learned them -- "Alexa, what's the weather in city, state?"

The name is another thing. You don't choose it, they are all named Alexa. Since nobody in my home is named that I'm safe. What happens if someone by that name stops by is another story... And if I'm ever watching a TV show or movie with a character by that name I expect some interesting results. While I haven't studied the settings, I have glanced through them and there seems to be no way to change the name.

There are many other options I'm yet to play with. For instance I can say "Alexa, set a timer for ten minutes" - handy for cooking. It can control your lighting system if you want it to.

Accessing the app provides Google Now-like cards that have your activity and even show the current song playing on Pandora.

As I stated earlier, it's only been one day, meaning I'm only just past that "creepy factor". But hey, if the NSA is listening to me, why should I be concerned if Amazon (opens in new tab) is too?