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Amazon Echo
Old 06-26-2015, 07:16 AM   #1
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Amazon Echo

I stumbled across this yesterday. It looks like an interesting gadget.

Anybody have one? What do you think? What do you find it most useful for?

Amazon Echo: Always Ready, Connected, and Fast.
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Old 06-26-2015, 08:21 AM   #2
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Got one at the early price of $100. Had to wait 4 months for it to arrive.

I'm just starting to play with the capabilities.

Likes:
- Perfect for the kitchen. Great for music with voice commands.
- Shopping list function surprisingly handy.
- Finding "Easter Eggs" is a fun diversion. (Ask it: "Open the pod bay doors..." and see what Alexa says.)

Dislikes:
- Amazon Prime's limited streaming list. On my TODO is to hook up other streaming services.
- Asking "How's traffic" is nice. But you can't say: "What is the travel time to xyz street" It only takes one loaded traffic site.
- Alexa understands me better than DW. I think we have to do some "training"

More to come. So far, DW and I like it a lot, but we've only scratched the surface.
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Old 06-26-2015, 09:04 AM   #3
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I, too, was an early ($99) purchaser. I have had it for about two months and don't really think about much. However, it is just so useful, I would not like to do without it.


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Old 06-26-2015, 11:14 AM   #4
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I just heard it mentioned on the radio yesterday for the first time but they didn't explain what it was. Price is now $180, available July 14. I'm intrigued - as DH's disabilities increase (MS) he is doing much more with voice on his phone, but he has to hold it which can be tiring, or pick it up and put it down which is not as easy as it sounds for him. I think I'll keep an eye on it for a potential Christmas gift.
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Old 06-26-2015, 02:01 PM   #5
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If you're an Amazon Prime member and like music it's a "no brainer" since it perfectly pairs with Echo. Amazon Prime Music doesn't have as robust a music catalog as Spotify or some of the other paid music services, but it has well over 1 million songs, and a lot of classic blues and rock for us over 60 baby boomers. In addition, you can link Pandora and iHeartRadio to Echo for even further expansion of music availability.

Voice commands work great!
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Old 06-26-2015, 02:29 PM   #6
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Other than the "Shopping & to-do list" feature, I use it as a timer in the kitchen and I, particularly, like the "Flash Briefing" that gives me a 10-15 minute synopsis of current news plus the weather.


I have another source of music but the sound from Echo is actually quite good.
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Old 06-26-2015, 03:30 PM   #7
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I have a single (divorced years ago) friend who has Alexa. He wants to marry her.
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Old 06-26-2015, 04:03 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by aja8888 View Post
I have a single (divorced years ago) friend who has Alexa. He wants to marry her.
Alexa says, "I like our relationship the way it is."
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Old 06-26-2015, 04:49 PM   #9
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It seems odd to me that it was offered to Prime members for $99, then it just sort of disappeared for a while, and now it's up to $180. I would expect it to drop in price pretty fast. I wonder how many they will sell at this price. As much as I love tech gadgets, this one just doesn't interest me much, and certainly not at almost double the price it was first offered to me for.

If it drops back to $99, it's probably not a bad price since it also works as a bluetooth wireless speaker.
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Old 06-26-2015, 05:02 PM   #10
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It seems odd to me that it was offered to Prime members for $99, then it just sort of disappeared for a while, and now it's up to $180.
My understanding was, at the time, that it was sort of a crowd-funded kinda deal. The early investors were taking a chance that it would have successful launch (actually be built) otherwise we would be "out in the cold." The incentive to sign up was the $90 discount.

I believed in the idea and trusted Google... but understood the risk.
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Old 06-26-2015, 05:04 PM   #11
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We got in on the $99 deal and recently set ours up. Love it for playing Prime music and music stations, adding to my shopping and to do list while I'm working in the kitchen and also for the news and weather. It's come in handy several times as a timer and for quick reference on some measurement conversions that I should know by now but somehow manage to forget. It's definitely not perfect but I'd spend another $100 in a heart beat... not sure now much higher I'd go for the toy... probably $200. I think I'm sort of driving DW crazy talking to it... or maybe she's just jealous.
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Old 06-26-2015, 05:18 PM   #12
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Yes it was $99 for me including the remote which was a bargain given what this thing does!


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Old 06-27-2015, 06:36 AM   #13
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I keep hearing about the shopping list which sounds interesting. Do the shopping list synch with your smartphone? Can it play a stream from website (like a radio station, or my local NPR station)?

I'm not much into music but one of my favorite radio stations is beyond where our new house is but I can stream it so I can see myself using it to do that.
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Old 06-27-2015, 07:59 AM   #14
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Yes, Echo synchs the lists with your smartphone (with an Echo App). It also synchs to any computer on the same network so you can imput with keyboard if desired... also printout the shopping list if you want.

I was curious about that because I stream radio with a dedicated radio (and also through SageTV). I asked "Alexa" (the name Echo gives itself) to "Play jazz station 89.3" and it tuned into KUVO in Denver. I, then, asked, her (well, she does use a feminine voice) to "Play jazz station WWOZ" and she tuned in WWOZ in New Orleans. You can, they tell me, create your own station by asking for a specific musician. I, also, asked Alexa to "play Pandora" and she said "Connecting to Pandora. Playing last station you listened to" and Norah Jones started singing "Come Away With Me." That kind of surprised me since I didn't have to "login."

This thing is amazing.


EDIT: The dedicated that I spoke of is a Sangean WFR-1, in case anyone is interested. (Amazon.com: Sangean WFR-1 Table-Top WiFi Internet Radio with FM-RDS (Dark Brown): Electronics)
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Old 06-27-2015, 08:12 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
I keep hearing about the shopping list which sounds interesting. Do the shopping list synch with your smartphone? Can it play a stream from website (like a radio station, or my local NPR station)?

I'm not much into music but one of my favorite radio stations is beyond where our new house is but I can stream it so I can see myself using it to do that.
As RonBoyd said, it synchs to a free phone app. The app actually keeps track of everything. If I ask for a definition, it'll record it on the app for later viewing. It's chronological.

Also, I've been streaming radio and various music a lot lately. Kind of fun to just say something like "play coffee house jazz radio" or "play smooth jazz playlist" and see what it comes up with.
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Old 06-30-2015, 11:10 PM   #16
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I am soooooo out of touch. I have no idea what this is.

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Old 07-01-2015, 08:00 AM   #17
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When I first heard about this, I thought it sounded kind of cool. But, on second thought, the fact that this thing is listening to whatever is said in my home 24/7 kind of creeps me out. You have no idea what is being recorded / stored online and how that data might eventually be used. I think privacy is already almost non-existent without placing an always-on microphone in my living room with no idea of who is listening.


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Old 07-01-2015, 08:07 AM   #18
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When I first heard about this, I thought it sounded kind of cool. But, on second thought, the fact that this thing is listening to whatever is said in my home 24/7 kind of creeps me out. You have no idea what is being recorded / stored online and how that data might eventually be used. I think privacy is already almost non-existent without placing an always-on microphone in my living room with no idea of who is listening.
Echo isn't "on" all the time... at least not in the way you are thinking. It does, however, constantly monitor for the spoken word, "Alexa." At that time, it awakens and waits for a command. I suppose you could ask it to constantly monitor something and it probably would "listen" for that but that would not be part of Echo's normal operation.
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Old 07-01-2015, 08:13 AM   #19
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Interesting. Though it sounds like a limited SIRI/Google Voice in a different form factor. Since we have iPhones, we couldn't use an Echo (yet).

Haven't researched, but does it really listen/record/store whatever it hears? That would be a bit of a concern for me.
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Old 07-01-2015, 08:29 AM   #20
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Interesting. Though it sounds like a limited SIRI/Google Voice in a different form factor. Since we have iPhones, we couldn't use an Echo (yet).

Haven't researched, but does it really listen/record/store whatever it hears? That would be a bit of a concern for me.
They say it does not. It does listen and record what it hears after you say "Alexa". You can even reference it on your phone app. You can see how the kids were pranking it earlier in the day. Etc.

Of course, you have to trust Amazon that this is true. You also have to trust Microsoft that your computer isn't recording everything it hears. There have been malicious programs and viruses that have infected computers do such.

No Echo viruses yet, but who knows?

Look, we truly are living in a brave new world. It is right to ask these questions about Echo. But you need to also be aware of where else you are being recorded. It is just about everywhere now -- especially visually. I don't like the fact that there are now facial recognition programs that can know when you are in a certain Big Box store's parking lot, for example. Yes, they know it is YOU.
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