A Beginner’s Guide to Amazon Echo

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If you’ve ever shopped on Amazon, watched any video online, or even on TV, you’ve probably seen a commercial for Amazon Echo. Every commercial I’ve seen makes it seem essential, or at least greatly beneficial to any household, but what exactly do you do with the thing besides asking it questions?

Related: How to Automate Your Home With IFTTT Recipes

If you just go off of the commercials, you can talk to it, and then it talks back, usually giving you relevant information or it starts taking care of small tasks. It almost sounds like a better version of OK Google, and that’s almost what it is. If you’ve stuck along for this long, and are still interested, follow along with me through my beginner’s guide to Amazon Echo.


What is Amazon Echo?

Let’s start with a pretty basic question, what is Amazon Echo? The answer is much more complex than the question, but the quickest way to explain it is by calling the Amazon Echo a personal assistant. With the Echo, Amazon Alexa takes the role of your personal, or even home or office assistant.

echo-example-echo-guideThink about OK Google, or the iPhone’s Siri, or even Windows’ Cortona, and what they can do for you. Take that functionality, give it its own device that you can put practically anywhere, and sync up with practically anything, and you get Amazon Echo using Amazon Alexa.

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So far it doesn’t sound like there’s a reason to invest in Amazon Echo yet, but this doesn’t cover everything the device can accomplish.


What’s so Great About Amazon Echo?

Now that we’ve gone over a basic idea of what Amazon Echo is, what about what it does? Just from the description it sounds like you can ask it questions, and it’ll hopefully give you answers, but that isn’t all that Amazon Echo does.

Without going into absolutely everything some of the things Amazon Echo can do for you include:

  • Make a to-do list
  • Control electronics
  • Play music with Amazon Prime or Spotify
  • Set alarms
  • Check your schedule and set appointments
  • Read ebooks from Kindle or Audible
  • Figure out the weather in your area, or outside of it
  • Stay up to date on current events
  • Decide where you want to eat for dinner tonight
  • Request an Uber ride from your location
  • And much much more

In fact, to figure out everything Amazon Echo can do, just ask Alexa. At any time, use the wake word “Alexa” and then ask your Amazon Echo any question to have Alexa answer it. Amazon Echo isn’t just like a personal assistant, it really is one once you’ve set it up.

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You can pick up an Echo Dot for as low as $49.99, and it has all the functionality of the larger Amazon Echo. With a single Echo Dot, you can order a pizza, turn off the lights, turn on the tv, and turn down the thermostat right from your couch. If that doesn’t sound amazing, I don’t know what does.


Which Amazon Echo is Right for You?

Amazon Echo comes in two different sizes, not counting the Amazon Tap. There’s the standard size Amazon Echo, and then the much smaller Echo Dot. The standard Amazon Echo is nearly four times the cost of a single Echo Dot, but for the extra money, you’ll get a speaker attached that you’ll miss if you just use the Dot.

You don’t just have to pick one Echo device either, multiple devices can pair with each other to make an entire network to ensure your entire space is within reach of Amazon Alexa.

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However, if you’re just buying one, which Amazon Echo device is right for you? At first glance, it looks like the Echo Dot is an add-on for Amazon Echo, and while that’s not technically wrong, it’s misleading.

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An Echo Dot is a standalone Amazon Echo device, but also pairs with any number of other Echo Dots, or larger Amazon Echo’s. Size notwithstanding, the two devices have virtually the same functionality, so why should you buy one over the other?

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The only difference between the Echo Dot and Amazon Echo is the cylindrical speaker that gives one its tall shape. The Echo Dot still has its own speaker, but it’s nowhere near as impressive as Amazon Echo’s. This is the only serious difference between the two.

Since Amazon Echo’s price will range from $179.99 or higher, I easily recommend the Echo Dot over it for just $49.99.

The Standard Amazon Echo

The Smaller Echo Dot


Once You Own an Amazon Echo, What Now?

You know what the Echo is, what it does, and which one you want, but now that you have one it’s finally time to start using it effectively. That’s why below I’ve got a few things you can try out with your brand new Echo to help break it in.

Amazon Echo First Time Setup

Amazon has made sure that setting up your Amazon Echo for the first time is as easy as possible. Follow all of the instructions that come with your new Amazon Echo or Echo Dot and get ready to have your house changed for the better.

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If you’re lacking instructions, then don’t worry, first time setup doesn’t take very long. First things first, download the Amazon Alexa app onto your Android.

Amazon Alexa Download

After the app is installed, turn on your Echo, and then connect it to Wi-Fi. Once the Echo is connected, use the wake word “Alexa” to start using your Amazon Echo, it’s just that easy.

Pairing Devices with Amazon Echo

I mentioned before that Amazon Echo syncs up with almost all of your home gadgets, and I wasn’t kidding, even if it’s still hit or miss with some of them. If you have a device that connects to Wi-Fi, chances are it can pair up with Amazon Echo.

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It’s best to look up Echo support for your device, or even ask Alexa yourself how to start the process when trying to pair or sync a specific device with Amazon Echo.

Amazon Echo’s Place in Your Home

Amazon Echo works as both a control center for all of your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled devices, and as your own personal assistant. That sounds like a dream come true for $179.99, and almost too good to believe at $49.99, but if you’re trying to put together a smart home, Amazon Echo is a great place to start.


Frequently Asked Questions about the Amazon Echo

Since this is just a beginner’s guide, I won’t dive very far into the Echo’s full capabilities, but I do want to help answer common questions about the device. This isn’t every question a new user could have, but these are the most important ones in my mind that need to be answered.

Q: Can the Echo Dot work without Amazon Echo?

A: Yes, the Echo Dot is just a smaller Amazon Echo without the large speaker.

Q: Is Amazon Alexa separate from Amazon Echo?

A: No, Amazon Alexa is the voice recognition system within Amazon Echo. No additional downloads or purchases are required to use Alexa since Alexa is the system that Amazon Echo uses.

Q: Does the Amazon Echo run on batteries?

A: No, but you can purchase a battery base separately that lets you take an Amazon Echo on the go instead of leaving it plugged into a wall.

Q: Can I use names besides “Alexa” to wake up Amazon Echo?

A: Yes, you can change the wake word at any time using the Amazon Alexa app on your Android.

Q: How far away can Amazon Echo hear me from?

A: Usable range may vary with how loud or quiet your environment is. To extend the range of Amazon Echo indefinitely, I recommend an Amazon Echo Remote.

Q: Can anyone use my Amazon Echo?

A: As long as someone knows the wake word, which the default is “Alexa,” anyone can use the Echo.

Q: Can I turn off Amazon Echo’s microphone?

A: Yes, on top of the Amazon Echo is a microphone button. Press it to turn the microphone on or off.

Q: Can I accidently make a purchase with Alexa?

A: In your voice settings on the Alexa app is an option to turn off voice activated purchases to prevent this from happening.

If you have any other Alexa or Amazon Echo questions, Amazon has a FAQ of their own to check. If you can’t find an answer there, or above, feel free to leave it below so we can get you the help you need.


Conclusion

That’s all you need to know to either feel secure about purchasing an Amazon Echo or thoroughly convinced the device isn’t something for you. Regardless of who uses it, I still think it’s a great system and device to make every day easier than the last.

If you have any questions about the Amazon Echo, please leave them in the comments below, and we’ll get to you right away!

 

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