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Amazon Echo
Old 12-06-2016, 05:33 PM   #1
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Amazon Echo

I've been debating buying one for myself for Christmas.

I'd love to hear some feedback from others who have one. Do you need to subscribe to a service to get the most out of it?

thanks
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Old 12-06-2016, 06:30 PM   #2
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I've found it wanting. It can't even answer questions about its own capabilities. Needs work. If you must get one get the Dot on sale.
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Old 12-06-2016, 07:08 PM   #3
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I have an Echo at our main house, and a Dot at the vacation home. I use it a lot. I stream music, have Alexa give my "flash briefing" every morning (a news update), add items to the shopping list and to do list, ask about the current weather and the forecast.

I play Jeopardy and have Alexa quiz me on state capitals. I get sports scores, schedules, and random information (how old is Ron Jaworski?)

For streaming music, Alexa can pair with Pandora /Spotify / I heart Radio. If you are a Prime member you can listen to free Prime music. I recently subscribed to Amazon Music Unlimited, and of course Alexa pairs very well with that, but I had no issues using the free versions of the three services mentioned.

I also have a couple of smart home devices controlled by Alexa.

The Dot is just the "brain" of the Echo, with a very basic speaker. The Echo's speaker is pretty good. If the $180 for the Echo is more than you care to spend you can get all the functionality with the Dot, but you'll want to plug in to a speaker for streaming music.
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Old 12-06-2016, 07:29 PM   #4
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Have Dot and one $39 bluetooth speaker with a 60' range. DW takes the speaker into various rooms when interfaced with the Dot playing from Pandora. Very cool and no need for the Echo.
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Old 12-06-2016, 07:55 PM   #5
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I have a Google Home and an Amazon Dot. Since I have a Google Play music account and not not an Amazon music account the Home is better for me at this point. It seems to be much more "intelligent" as well, and the voice is less droid like. If you have a Chromecast, it's easy to stream music or YouTube to your TV with the Google device. . YMMV, based on the ecosystem you're in.
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Old 12-07-2016, 08:55 AM   #6
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Once you get used to Echo you'll find you can't get along without it.

Yes, there is the obvious "ask a question, get an immediate answer" thing (how many miles in 136 kilometers?) but it is also handy for "To do" and "Shopping" lists. (Particularly in the kitchen with the remote.) Or to get the "News" read to you or the local weather (and forecast).

A less obvious thing is, for example: Here in Denver it can go from 70 one day to 10 the next -- I have a Nest thermostat that is programmable for the most part but fails when that happens. It is easier to simply tell Alexa to set a certain temperature than it is to manually adjust the thermostat.

Best $100+ I have ever spent.
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Old 12-07-2016, 09:54 AM   #7
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I understand that everything you say to "Alexa" is uploaded and stored by Amazon ( for "research purposes only" ). You have to specifically request the voice file to be deleted, but then it begins recording your activity immediately again.

It seems like a neat toy but I'm not sure i want a hot mike in my home 24/7 (although it can be hacked to speak thru the old Billy Bass ).

_B
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Old 12-07-2016, 12:44 PM   #8
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I understand that everything you say to "Alexa" is uploaded and stored by Amazon ( for "research purposes only" ). You have to specifically request the voice file to be deleted, but then it begins recording your activity immediately again.
I am not sure what you are saying. Echo's microphone is "live" only when it is triggered by the spoken word "Alexa." It, then, responds to your request verbally and the microphone is then deactivated until you say "Alexa" again. There are no "open mike" situations that you are unaware of.

In any event, I am unsure why Amazon (or anyone for that matter) would be interested in my asking for a "News Flash" or "How tall is the Washington Monument." On the other hand, it is a "learning" device and would need to track the accuracy of the responses and the type of query so there probably is some feedback required/needed.

Of course, if you forget to put on your tin-foil lined hat, it can read your mind.
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Old 12-07-2016, 12:57 PM   #9
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We picked up a Dot on sale for Black Friday, $33. Really enjoying it. Have it paired with our main sound bar under the TV most of the time. Wife enjoys the instant unit conversion that she can get hands-free while working in the kitchen. It is also our new alarm for weekday mornings, which I set up completely by voice.
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Old 12-07-2016, 01:17 PM   #10
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I am not sure what you are saying. Echo's microphone is "live" only when it is triggered by the spoken word "Alexa." It, then, responds to your request verbally and the microphone is then deactivated until you say "Alexa" again. There are no "open mike" situations that you are unaware of.
If the mike isn't live, how does it know you said "Alexa"?
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Old 12-07-2016, 01:29 PM   #11
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If the mike isn't live, how does it know you said "Alexa"?
Good point.

Yikes! That means each of my computers, my cell phones , and even my exterior door locks (and probably others I don't even know about) are listening and reporting everything to some poor bored slob... I don't think I want to know all this.
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Old 12-07-2016, 07:35 PM   #12
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Looking to pick up the Echo but I want to wait for another black Friday deal. I mis-read the ad and thought it was for the entire week and missed the sale. Has anyone heard of an upcoming sale or a website offering a reduced price?

Thanks!!!
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Old 12-07-2016, 09:41 PM   #13
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Has anyone heard of an upcoming sale or a website offering a reduced price?
Have a website like Amazon price tracker, Amazon price history charts, price watches, and price drop alerts. | camelcamelcamel.com keep watch for you. (Google for other like-minded websites.)
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Old 12-08-2016, 08:21 AM   #14
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Supposedly, the Echo only listens for the "Alexa" while waiting for you. Supposedly, nothing is passed on to the Mother Ship until you ask it to do something after saying it's name.

Supposedly, all the banks, insurance companies, retailers, government entities, etc. that you have given your personal information to are protecting it with top-notch, state of the art security controls. Yea. Right.
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Old 12-08-2016, 01:16 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the input/advice. I had the wife order me the Echo for my Christmas gift when she asked me what I wanted. There is a big demand for the product and even with 2 day shipping, I won't receive it until December 27.

I noticed that there is an optional voice remote that Amazon sells for the Echo. Does anyone have this and is it worth getting?

Thanks
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Old 12-09-2016, 12:31 PM   #16
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Here's one of several urls regarding Amazon's data mining via the Echo...

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/amazon-e...o-delete-them/
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:02 PM   #17
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I don't have an Echo and have never used one, so take this with a huge pinch of salt. It strikes me as something of a convenience that is solving a "problem" which didn't really exist in the first place.

However, having said that, I was one of the last people to get a cellphone, and also one of the last to upgrade from a dumbphone to a smartphone. I still don't have a tablet. (I don't own a car, but do have hot and cold running water and an inside toilet )
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Old 12-09-2016, 08:23 PM   #18
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I still don't have a tablet. (I don't own a car, but do have hot and cold running water and an inside toilet )


Wasting your money on such luxuries will be your undoing.
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Old 12-09-2016, 09:32 PM   #19
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Old 12-12-2016, 06:49 PM   #20
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I don't have an Echo and have never used one, so take this with a huge pinch of salt. It strikes me as something of a convenience that is solving a "problem" which didn't really exist in the first place.

However, having said that, I was one of the last people to get a cellphone, and also one of the last to upgrade from a dumbphone to a smartphone. I still don't have a tablet. (I don't own a car, but do have hot and cold running water and an inside toilet )


It actually makes a really great clock radio even it you don't use it for anything else
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