Tech Talk: Amazon’s “Echo” is a useful personal assistant

ALEXA, CAN YOU HEAR ME? Amazon's Echo line, including the Echo Dot, provides a useful personal assistant in

Courtesy of Amazon

ALEXA, CAN YOU HEAR ME? Amazon’s Echo line, including the Echo Dot, provides a useful personal assistant in “Alexa”. The smart speakers include several functions to help make customers’ lives easier.

Caroline Miller, Staff Writer

The Story

An “Echo” is a smart home device and speaker, and uses “Alexa” a voice-activated personal assistant. Alexa can help with many everyday tasks. It always listens until it hears its name, then it collects the commands and sends it to a voice recognition service, which then sends back a response.

The “Echo” is very popular; throughout 2019, 100 million of the devices were sold.

The smaller version, called the “Echo Dot”, costs around $22 dollars, and the big version, just called the “Echo” costs around $50. There is also a plug used to turn lights on and off with voice commands, which costs $20.

The Good

Amazon’s “Echo” has many good qualities. It is a speaker, so it can play any song. The device can tell the weather for the current day and for the next 7 days ahead. It can also answer some basic questions, and it can turn on and off lights using voice commands.

Another good thing about the “Echo” is that it can also tell jokes and can be asked to sing a song. It records everything you say, but it allows you to delete these recordings with the Alexa app for smartphones.

The “Echo” can also be disabled, which means it stops listening for voice commands. When it does this, it shows a red ring. Another good thing about the Alexa voice assistance is that it can be set up for kids and offers games and stories.

The Bad

Like most electronic devices, the “Echo” has its downsides. “Alexa” doesn’t always answer your questions and sometimes she does not hear you correctly, which can get annoying.

Lots of people think that the “Echo” is a spy, and that it listens to and records conversations. “Echoes”, however, have to listen in order to work. The device is always listening for the wake up call, the word “Alexa”.

Sometimes when you say something else close to the wake up call, the device will respond to that also. Amazon does keep a log that stores voice commands to get better voice recognition, which might make some people uncomfortable.

Another issue with the “Echo” is that it is connected with your Amazon account and you can buy things on it using voice commands. This can be concerning because you may buy things by accident.

It is also possible to call people using “Alexa”, but the quality is bad, sometimes it’s hard to hear what the other person is saying.

The Bottom Line 

The Amazon “Echo” and its personal assistant, “Alexa”, is very useful. Although it has some issues, it still is a very nice product that people should own and is a handy house tool.  It does what it sets out to do, is entertaining and useful.

It deserves a four out of five. The Amazon “Echo” device is great and comes highly recommended to anyone who doesn’t already have one.

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