Amazon Echo Dot

What is Amazon Echo? How Do You Get the Most Out of One?

You might be wondering, “What is Amazon Echo?”

On the surface, Amazon Echo is Amazon’s very own entry into the Bluetooth speaker world. But there is more to the Amazon Echo than simply sound.

The Amazon Echo is a hands-free smart speaker system that is controlled by voice. Echo is connected to Alexa, an AI-driven personal assistant system that allows it to perform several intelligent functions that can help make life easier, or simply more fun.

The Amazon Echo was first made available to Amazon Prime members or by invite-only, but now it is widely available for purchase on the Amazon website.

The Amazon Echo has several variations available for purchase.


Amazon Echo (Third generation)

Launched in 2019, the Amazon Echo third generation is sized at 148 x 99 x 99mm, is 780g, has Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth and 3.5mm audio in/out. In terms of sound, it has a 3.0-inch woofer and a 0.8-inch tweeter and fully supports Alexa.


Amazon Echo Plus (Second generation)

Launched in 2018, the Amazon Echo Plus is sized at 148 x 99 x 99mm, is 780g, has Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth, 3.5mm audio in/out, and a Zigbee controller. It also has a 3.0-inch woofer and a 0.8-inch tweeter and fully supports Alexa.

Thus, the biggest difference between the Amazon Echo Plus and the Echo third generation is that the Echo Plus comes with a built-in Zigbee controller-which allows you to directly connect with and control other compatible smart home devices.


Amazon Echo Studio

The Echo Studio stands out from the rest as the top choice if what you’re looking for is sound quality.

It’s bigger- at 206 x 175 x 175mm, 3.5kg. It has Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth, 3.5mm audio in/out, and a built-in Zigbee controller. Echo is also packed with a 1.0-inch tweeter and a 5.25-inch woofer and also supports Dolby Atmos and MPEG-H.

All of these factors along with Alexa support combine to make it a great device for people who prioritize sound.


Amazon Echo Dot (Third generation)


Amazon Echo Dot


The Echo Dot has been highly popular since it launched. Primarily because it’s a great device that comes with an incredibly affordable price tag.

The third-generation Amazon Echo Dot launched in 2018, and it switched out its previous plastic build for fabric like the Echo Plus.

It’s smaller than the other Echo devices at 43 x 99 x 99mm, 300g. It has Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth, and 3.5mm audio out and comes with a 1.6-inch speaker. Overall, it is great as a stand-alone Alexa device.


Amazon Echo Show

Amazon has also branched into Alexa supported smart video and display devices named the Amazon Echo Show. These Echo devices come with a screen to add a visual element to the Alexa experience. Currently available are the main Echo Show second generation and the Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8.

One of the primary reasons why the Amazon Echo speakers stand out from the rest of the Bluetooth speaker market is because of Alexa. Alexa is Amazon’s artificial intelligence-driven and voice-controlled personal assistant that is inbuilt into all Echo devices.

Amazon has programmed Alexa to mimic real conversations and there are intuitive voice commands that trigger Alexa to perform specific tasks. ‘Alexa’ is the ‘wake word’ that allows the system to start listening to your voice. This wake word can also be changed to ‘Computer’, ‘Amazon’, or ‘Echo’.


Set-up

To set up Alexa on your Echo devices, simply download the Alexa app on your iOS or Android device. Press and hold the action button on your Echo device for 5 seconds till it enters the set-up mode. Then connect your Echo device to your Wi-Fi via the Alexa app. Now, simply start talking with the wake word ‘Alexa’ and you are ready to start using your Echo device.


Echo Language Assistant


What Can it Do?

According to Amazon, Alexa is always getting smarter and learning new capabilities. Alexa’s smart functions are all accessible through Amazon’s Echo devices with various voice commands.

Here are 15 Alexa smart functions that make the Echo device worthwhile:

  1. Hear the latest News

The Amazon Echo devices can read out short news snippets. You can also customize which news sources you want your device to access via the Alexa app on your phone.

Voice commands to use in order to access news:

Alexa, what’s my Flash Briefing?

Alexa, what’s in the news?

2. Weather forecast

The Amazon Echo device can give you accurate weather forecasts for your location or for any part of the world.

Voice commands for the weather forecast:

Alexa, what’s the weather like?

Alexa, what will the weather be like next week in Brisbane?

3. Play music

Your Amazon Echo device is automatically connected to Amazon Music as the default music player. This is great if you have an Amazon Prime account as you have instant access to all the songs and playlists.

You can also switch your default music player to Spotify via the Alexa app.

You can ask your Amazon Echo device to play the music you like by track, genre, artist, mood, or playlist.

Voice commands for playing music:

Alexa, play (song/artist/album)

Alexa, play (Playlist Name)

4. Manage and create to-do lists and shopping lists

Amazon has its own inbuilt to-do list feature in the Alexa app that can be accessed via the Echo devices. You can also integrate Todoist or Any.do via the Alexa app. Using them lets you add items to your to-do list and have them be read out to you whenever you want.

Adding items to your to-do list or shopping list is fairly simple. Alexa has been programmed to be intelligent enough to differentiate within a task and an item easily.

Use voice commands like:

Alexa, add sugar to my shopping list

Alexa, add pick up dry cleaning to my to-do list

5. Set up an alarm

You can use your Amazon Echo devices as an alarm clock.

Simply say, “Alexa, set an alarm for (time)“.

When your alarm rings, you can say “Alexa, turn off” to turn it off or “Alexa, snooze” for another extra 10 minutes of sleep.

6. Use Alexa to make phone calls

You can make or receive hands-free phone calls via your Amazon Echo device. Simply sign up for Alexa Communication via the Alexa app on your phone.

You can then contact someone on their mobile, landline or their Echo speaker via voice commands like:

Alexa, call Andrew’s mobile

Alexa, call Alice’s Echo

7. Ask Alexa anything

You can essentially ask Alexa for any information that is readily available on the internet and it will read out the search engine results for you.

Use voice commands like:

Alexa, where is Mount Fuji?

Alexa, who is the prime minister of Finland?

8. Link your Calendar

Alexa does not have an inbuilt calendar feature but you can link your iCloud, Gmail, Office 365, or Outlook calendar through the app settings.

Once you are done linking your calendar you can start using voice commands like:

Alexa, what’s on my calendar this week?

Alexa, what time is the team meeting today?

Alexa will help you add tasks and can also set up reminders for your calendar events.

9. Get recipe ideas via Allrecipes

You can add the Allrecipes skill to your Alexa and ask for recipes. You can either ask for exact recipes by name or simply list ingredients you have in your pantry and Alexa will find a recipe that fits.

Use voice commands like:

Alexa, ask Allrecipes for a chocolate brownie recipe.

Alexa, ask Allrecipes for a recipe with chicken, spaghetti and tomatoes.

10. Play games

There are lots of fun games you can play with Alexa. These games can be either played solo or with a group. Some of the most popular ones are: Twenty Questions, Jeopardy, Deal or no Deal, The Magic Door, Lemonade Stand, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Use voice commands like:

Alexa, play Deal or no Deal.

Alexa, play Jeopardy.

11. Play audiobooks via Audible

If you have an Audible account, you can use Alexa to read out your audiobooks via voice command.

You can use voice commands like:

Alexa, read (book) from Audible

Alexa, next chapter

12. Play ambient sounds for better sleep

You can ask Alexa to play ambient sounds for a better night of sleep via Sleepsounds.

Use voice commands like:

Alexa, play rain sounds

Alexa, play ocean sounds

13. Book an Uber or Lyft via Alexa

Rushing and don’t have the time to take out your phone to book a cab? You can ask Alexa to schedule a cab for you. Make sure your location is accurately updated in-app.

Use voice commands like:

Alexa, ask Uber for a ride.

14. Stay fit with quick workouts

You can ask Alexa to automatically start a 7-minute and 5-minute guided workout that will help you keep fit.

Use voice commands like:

Alexa, start a seven-minute workout.

Alexa, open five-minute workout.

15. Alexa for kids

Alexa is great for keeping kids entertained. There are lots of skills inbuilt for kids.

Science Buddy – A kid-friendly science-based quiz game.

Use the voice command “Alexa, open Science Buddy.

Amazon Story Time – Amazon Storytime has short stories for kids in the age range 5–12.

Use the voice command “Alexa, ask Amazon Storytime to read me a story”, and Alexa will narrate a short story to keep your kid engaged.

Spelling Bee – Spelling Bee can be played solo or with friends and is programmed to test kids spelling knowledge.

Use the voice command “Alexa, ask Spelling Bee to start a game

Draw It – Draw it gives creative kids ideas on what to draw and describes exactly how they should draw it.

Use the voice command “Alexa tell Draw it to start a game.


Aside from these features the Amazon Echo can also be connected to and control other Alexa compatible devices to create a smart home experience.

Overall, the Amazon Echo speakers with its high-quality sound and built-in Alexa features are a great smart speaker system to invest in.


2 thoughts on “What is Amazon Echo? How Do You Get the Most Out of One?

  1. Hello,

    Thanks for the information. So many times we purchased and use technology but don’t use or are not aware of the full range of capabilities. This post provides some good info. One question though. I spend half the year in the Caribbean. How is this tech applicable there in Trinidad, i.e. can I sign up for Prime or use the Echo dot and receive various services? Everybody has a take on this but I don’t get definitive information. Hope you can help.

    1. Hello David,
      Thanks for the question.
      From what I have read and understand, the Echo will work just about anywhere that has power and internet via WiFi.
      The difference, in this case, is that you would be trying to sign in to an Amazon account linked to your other residential country.
      Amazon does support its Echo devices in Trinidad and Tobago, but I believe they send the best option to you when it’s shipped there (you order it to that residence).
      It looks like things that would be available in the US, for instance, may not have a version in other countries (Shopping, traffic, location-specific news, Spotify, Pandora, etc).
      It appears that most of the generic services that the Echo provides will work just fine (Smart Home, timers, calendars, alarms, to-do lists, and weather). Amazon Music Unlimited is currently not available for Trinidad and Tobago, according to their website.
      I hope this helps.

      Have a wonderful day!
      Tyler

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