So my wife got me an Amazon Echo for Christmas and I powered it up today. Overall I was absolutely delighted with it – Amazon has a hell of a product here. The ease of use that a conversational user interface brings is staggering:

  • Alexa play happy holiday music
  • Alexa may the force be with you
  • Alexa play pink
  • Alexa what is the weather
  • Alexa what is the temperature
  • Alexa what is the news
  • Alexa 5 minute timer

Those were a few of the commands that we came up with right away. My wife gets the serious nerd fu credit for the force one; bless her.

Amazon Echo Out of the Box Experience

A few thoughts on the out of the box experience:

  • The out of the box experience is far, far rougher than I had expected. You certainly get thru it but I didn’t find it clear.
  • You do need to install the Amazon Echo app on your phone
  • There’s a weird config step where the Echo presents a wifi network that you connect to so it can find the actual network that in your house; at the end of it your phone is left connected to the echo and its unclear if you change that or not (I would think so but who knows)
  • The trend towards “no one reads the manual so let’s not even have one” is a suck ass trend. There are those of us who do read the manual and we get very annoyed by the fact that there isn’t even comprehensive online documentation. I can rationalize the lack of a printed manual due to rapid updates but sheesh.

When It Doesn’t Play Music

My biggest problem was that it wouldn’t play music initially. Googling was relatively fruitless but it did reveal that lots of other people have this problem:

The answer, at least for me, turned out to be turn it off and then on and then wait. And that did it. Sigh. Given how important digital technology is to all of our lives the answer of power on / power off or as I refer to it “get out of the car and get back into the car” is a crappy answer at best.

Conclusion

Well I’ve already tried to order the hockey puck extension for the echo so I guess that says all you need to know about how much I like it. This is a fantastic product. Here’s a good article that clarifies the difference between the Echo and Echo Dot; much to my surprise the hockey puck isn’t an extension - its a standalone version of the echo with a smaller speaker so it can be cheaper but it doesn’t require the echo at all. You can plug it into your own speakers for better output.