Amazon Echo (Alexa)

11 minutes of reading
Proconductor: Amazon
Category: Final management tool
Type: Smart Speaker
Technology: Wi-Fi / ZigBee
Installation difficulties: Bassa
Ease of use: Alta
Availability: Amazon
Review review: 2.2
Amazon Echo Dot - colors
AMAZON ECHO: THE BIONIC SERVITE

We have been waiting for it for a long time, it has arrived and it has not disappointed the expectations. For nothing.

Amazon Echo, the smart speaker di Amazon equipped with assistant Alexa, after a long gestation outside the Italian territorial boundaries it finally landed in the beautiful country bringing with it its baggage of functionality and integration in the domotic environment.

Malgrado Amazon has presented / announced lots of new devices, in Italy for now only a subset has arrived - to tell the truth, widely enough:

  • Amazon Echo Dot (3ª generation)
  • Amazon Echo (2ª generation)
  • Amazon Echo Plus (3ª generation)
  • Amazon Echo Spot
  • Amazon Input
  • Amazon Echo Show 5

These are three different variations of the same prodotto, or generically "Amazon Echo": The first model, Echo Dot, is the simplest and cheapest, the two Echo ed Echo Plus they are respectively medium / high end while Echo Spot is analogous toEcho Dot, but it is also equipped with a mini touch screen.
The version Input is analogous to Dot, the difference lies in not having a loudspeaker: this Echo is designed to be used in this waynameto existing Hi-Fi systems, in order to make them reprohome automation and virtual assistants.

Finally, Echo Show 5 it is the "pumped" version of the Echo Spot: it is also equipped with a display, but much larger. This is the last born.

Obviously all these models they have different characteristics and costs.

Functionality

Yes but what's this Amazon Echo, what can it do for us?

Amazon Echo is one smart speaker prolearned from Amazon whose primary function is to provide, like all smart speakers, a voice assistant able to support us in the most common - and now we will see what "common" means - daily activities, both domestic and professional.

ALEXA

This voice assistant is actually a software named Amazon Alexa, which brain it is not placed in the devices of it equipped (smart speaker, but also smartphone, tablet etc.) but on the Internet, in the cloud Amazon AWS. It goes without saying that this type of devices (this also applies to Google Home, or Appthe Siri) are able to function only when connected to the Internet. In the absence of a network, they are practically useless.

Amazon Alexa, once the smart speaker is configured (any model of those listed above), is proto receive our commands. It will be enough proannounce the word "Alexa ...”To put the smart speaker in listening mode. At this point we will be able to address you statements and / or questions through natural language, and you prowill be able to respond in equally natural language.

Amazon Alexa

What can you ask Alexa? Well, basic, lots of things. Fix appattitudes, listening to music, asking for weather forecasts, listening to the radio: the fundamental point, however, is not so much what you can ask for appit has been removed from the box (which in itself is a lot), as much as what it can do for us after having configured it with more detail.

SKILL

The world Amazon Alexa, in fact, is enriched by the programma Amazon Alexa Skills, an proprogram that allows developers all over the world to create profirst "skill", or elements additional, modular that allow Alexa's "brain" to expand profirst intellectual faculties.

When for example we read of a compatibility "with Amazon Alexa ”declared by producer of a certain domotic component, this means that produttore had the foresight to create - and make available - one skill Alexa ad hoc for the proprio prolearned. Let's assume it is of a smart thermostat: adding the skill to our device we will be able to ask Alexa what the temperature of the room in which the thermostat is located, and maybe ask to change the temperature of the climatic adjustment.

Skill there are already today thousand, and it is an increasing number: home automation, sports, news, entertainment: the fantasy of developers around the world is making Amazon Alexa is a major ecosystem. The complete list is available here.

Returning to Amazon Echo, it is important to know that the configuration (any model) of the device (and therefore of Amazon Alexa) occurs through aapp dedicated mobile, which allows not only to configure the basic settings of the device (language, geographical location, various preferences) but also, appgreased, the addition / removal of the skills illustrated above.

Tale appis called profirstAmazon Alexa"And is available for both Google Android that Appthe iOS. The fact that theapp call yourself the voice assistant present on Amazon Echo (and compatible smart speakers) is not random: theapp, Besides prosee the functions explained above, is de facto a personal assistant in turn: the same questions / statements made to Amazon Echo can be placed atapp present on your smartphone.

AUDIO MULTICAMERA

A very interesting functionality di Amazon Echo is the possibility of positioning them more than one at home you wasproto play widespread music in all environments, obviously in an absolutely synchronous and without proproblemsproduction. Moreover, it is possible pair up two by two the echoes in order to obtain a reproproduction in stereo.


The Alexa features described are the same for all models Amazon Echo.

Amazon Echo Dot (3ª generation)

Amazon Echo Dot - colors

Amazon Echo Dot is the smallest of the Echo models available today, as well as the least expensive. Does not stand out for audio quality, despite the comparison with the similar model of the line Google Home be clear to him appannaggio, with sharper and lower sounds more profunds.

It is not particularly suitable for listening to quality music, but it is more than suitable for home listening while doing other things, especially listening to the radio. Amazon Echo Dot is available in three colors: anthracite, light gray, mélange gray; the finish is in fabric.

The price, net of any promotions Amazon, and of 59,99 €.
The board of detail of this model is available here.

The salient features are:

Dimensions43 x 99 x 99 mm
Weight300 grams
Actual dimensions and weight may vary based on promanufacturing process.
Connettività Wi-FiIl Wi-Fi dual-band is compatible with 802.11 a / b / g / n networks from 2,4 and 5 GHz. Not compatible with networks Wi-Fi ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer).
Bluetooth connectivityAdvanced Audio Distribution Support Profile (A2DP) for streaming audio content from your mobile device to Echo Dot or Echo Dot to a Bluetooth speaker. Audio / Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) to control mobile devices connected by voice command. Hands-free voice control is not available on devices Mac OS X. Bluetooth speakers that require a PIN code are not compatible.
AudioBuilt-in speaker (41mm) for voice responses when the device is not connected to external speakers. 3,5 mm stereo audio output for use with external speakers (audio cable not included).
Absorption15w

Amazon Echo Dot - Technical details

Amazon Echo (2ª generation)

Amazon Echo Dot is second on the scale of the Echo models available today. It does not differ much from the Dot if not in size and for a slightly more audio quality, also motivated, appgrease, from the widest placement space of the speaker. Even the Echo is not particularly suitable for listening to quality music, but it is more than suitable for home listening while doing other things, especially listening to the radio. Certainly, from this point of view it is better than the Dot.

Amazon Echo is available in three colors: anthracite, light gray, mélange gray; the finish is in fabric.

The price, net of any promotions Amazon, and of 99,99 €.
The board of detail of this model is available here.

The salient features are:

Dimensions148 x 88 x 88 mm
Weight821 g
Actual dimensions and weight may vary depending on configuration and al proprocessing process.
Connettività Wi-FiCompatible with 802.11 networks a / b / g / n. Not compatible with networks Wi-Fi ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer).
Bluetooth connectivityCompatible with Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) for streaming audio content from your mobile device to Echo or Echo to a Bluetooth speaker. Audio / Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) to control mobile devices connected by voice command. Hands-free voice control is not available on devices Mac OS X. Bluetooth speakers that require a PIN code are not compatible.
Audio63 mm woofer and 16 mm tweeter
Absorption20w

Amazon Echo - technical details

Amazon Echo Plus (2ª generation)

Amazon Echo Plus - AnthraciteTheAmazon Echo Plus is, without perhaps, the best of the four models available as well as the most expensive.

It is a device massif, with great audio quality, almost unexpected given the dimensions however contained. Although none of these devices will ever replace a Hi-fi system, Echo Plus guarantees a level of pressure and sound quality that has impressed us for its intensity and thickness.

How I look very reminiscent of theAppthe HomePod, and also as audio quality we are not too far from the summit established by the smart speaker of the apple company.

As additional features compared to the younger siblings, Echo Plus presents on board un BRIDGE/Gateway Zibgee, which allows Alexa to interface directly with sensors or components based on this protocollo directly.

Also Amazon Echo is available in three colors: anthracite, light gray, mélange gray with fabric finish.

The price, net of any promotions Amazon, and of 149,99 €. The price includes a Philips smart light bulb controllable, of course, via Alexa.
The board of detail of this model is available here.

The salient features are:

Dimensions148 x 99 x 99 mm
Weight780 g
Actual dimensions and weight may vary depending on configuration and al promanufacturing process.
Connettività Wi-FiIl Wi-Fi dual-band is compatible with 802.11 networks a / b / g / n / ac from 2,4 and 5 GHz. Not compatible with networks Wi-Fi ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer).
Connettività ZigbeeThehub for Smart Home ZigBee integrated is compatible with devices ZigBee compatible, such as light bulbs, sockets and switches.
Bluetooth connectivityAdvanced Audio Distribution Support Profile (A2DP) for streaming audio content from your mobile device to Echo or Echo to a Bluetooth speaker. Audio / Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) to control mobile devices connected by voice command. Hands-free voice control is not available on devices Mac OS X. Bluetooth speakers that require a PIN code are not compatible.
Audio63,5 mm neodymium woofer and 20 mm tweeter
System RequirementsYou can connect Echo Plus immediately to yours Wi-Fi. THE'App Alexa is compatible with Fire OS, Android and iOS devices and is also accessible from the web browser. Some Skills and some services may be modified, may not be available in some locations or require a subscriptionnameseparate agreement.
Absorption30w

Amazon Echo Plus - Technical details

Amazon Echo Spot

Amazon Echo SpotAmazon Echo Spot is in practice a Amazon Dot equipped with a small circular touch screen. This screen allows the device to communicate visually with the user.

On the audio front, Echo Spot (also given its size) is quite limited: it offers nothing more than audio promade from an 36mm speaker, very little to expect miracles.

Amazon Echo Spot remains however an interesting device which allows Amazon to abandon the philosophy of the classic smart speaker to face a new dimension, that of visual communication appanointed.

Of the four is perhaps that with the rappless balanced quality / price garden: the price it is indeed of 129,99 €.

The board of detail of this model is available here.

The device is available in white and black, the finish is in plastic.
The salient features are:

Dimensions104 97 mm x mm x mm 91
Weight419 grams
Actual dimensions and weight may vary depending on configuration and al promanufacturing process.
App AlexaTheApp Alexa is compatible with Fire OS, Android and iOS devices and is also available in a desktop version (accessible from the web browser). Some services may require a subscriptionnameseparate agreement or additional costs.
Connettività Wi-FiIl Wi-Fi dual-band is compatible with 802.11 a / b / g / n networks from 2,4 and 5 GHz. Not compatible with networks Wi-Fi ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer).
AudioIntegrated speaker. 3,5 mm stereo audio output for use with external speakers (audio cable not included).

Amazon Echo Spot - Technical details

Amazon Echo Input

Amazon Echo InputAmazon Echo Input is not proproperly a smart speaker, because if it is true that - precisely like the higher models - the Alexa assistant is mounted, it is not equipped with a speaker for the reproaudio production

Put like this it would seem a contradiction, but it is not: theInput it actually serves to make any Hi-Fi system (or, alternatively, a conventional speaker) a smart speaker itself. Input in fact it is equipped with an 3,5 jack output to connect it to any system / speaker with an auxiliary input.

Input it is therefore recommended for those wishing to perform music streaming to a quality Hi-Fi / speaker system and also wants to adopt the Alexa system.

Of the four is perhaps that with the rappless balanced quality / price garden: the price, net of any promotions Amazon, is indeed di 39,99 € (available from the 30 / 01).

The board of detail of this model is available here.

The device is available in white and black, the finish is in plastic.
The salient features are:

Dimensions14 x 80 x 80 mm
Weight79 grams. Actual dimensions and weight may vary based on promanufacturing process.
App AlexaTheApp Alexa is compatible with Fire OS, Android and iOS devices and is also available in a desktop version (accessible from the web browser). Some services may require a subscriptionnameseparate agreement or additional costs.
Connettività Wi-FiIl Wi-Fi dual-band is compatible with 802.11 a / b / g / n networks from 2,4 and 5 GHz. Not compatible with networks Wi-Fi ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer).
AudioEcho Input it does not have a built-in speaker, but you can connect an external one via Bluetooth or an 3,5 mm audio cable.

Amazon Echo Input - Technical details

Amazon Echo Show 5

Amazon Echo Show 5Amazon Echo Show 5 is in practice a Amazon Spot equipped with a rectangular touch screen (instead of a round one). This screen allows the device to communicate visually with the user.

On the audio front, Echo Show 5 (also given its size) is quite limited, although better than the Spot model.

Amazon Echo Show 5 is an interesting device which allows Amazon to abandon the philosophy of the classic smart speaker to face a new dimension, that of visual communication appanointed.

Of the four is perhaps that with the rappless balanced quality / price garden: the price, net of any promotions Amazon, it is indeed of 89,99 €.

The board of detail of this model is available here.

The device is available in white and black, the finish is in plastic.
The salient features are:

Dimensions148 86 mm x mm x mm 73
Weight410 grams
Actual dimensions and weight may vary depending on configuration and al promanufacturing process.
App AlexaTheApp Alexa is compatible with Fire OS, Android and iOS devices and is also available in a desktop version (accessible from the web browser). Some services may require a subscriptionnameseparate agreement or additional costs.
Connettività Wi-FiIl Wi-Fi dual-band is compatible with 802.11 a / b / g / n networks from 2,4 and 5 GHz. Not compatible with networks Wi-Fi ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer).
AudioIntegrated speaker. 3,5 mm stereo audio output for use with external speakers (audio cable not included).

Amazon Echo Show 5 - Technical details

Compatibility

Compatibility, as explained, is guaranteed to all devices that report, via the graphic badge:

Works with Amazon Alexa

availability of the skill for Amazon Alexa.

Taking an example, where you have un bridge for thelumination Philips Hue (who it's compatible with Amazon Alexa through la propria skill) it will be possible to add it to the smart speaker "Philips Hue"Who will immediately make aware Amazon Alexa of the presence of these components in profirst home automation. From then on it will be sufficient to command "turn on the lights"Or"turn on that light”To control the actuators.

The devices Amazon Echo are, as explained, configured and managed through 'sapp mobile “Amazon Alexa " available for Google Android that Appthe iOS.

Domotics integrability

Also the theme "integration"Is broad. Where it has been implemented un personale HUB How Home Assistant, no proBlema. Amazon Alexa becomes a blessing without much effort: just a few steps in the configuration of Home Assistant, then let the latter access the cloud service and finally add the skill to the Alexa configuration HASSIO. We have explained in detail this proprocedure on this tab.

Unfortunately, this configuration it is paid, but there is no need to fear: in fact it exists another way to make full integration between Home Assistant and Alexa, but for free.

This done, it will be possible to check the profirst home automationwithout the need to add the components, one by one, to the configuration of Amazon Alexa - via voice commands. This it is particularly useful when there is a homogeneous and integrated domotics thanks to the adoption of a HUB personal, especially when you own components no compatible Google Home or simply components given by ad hoc configurations (virtual sensors, etc.).

Nb. the level of integration towards Home Assistant it is exceptional, but it is good to know that from the first September 2018 the registration to the cloud HASSIO it is paid. But there is an alternative method to achieve the same result by bypassing the cloud HASSIO. We will talk about it at length later.

Also openHAB e Domoticz have full integration with this line of smart speakers and their personal assistant.

The same argument is appalso a Homebridge, which has of an ad hoc plugin to interface the entities defined in home automation to Amazon Alexa.

Finally, we recommend reading of this FOCUS dedicated to strategies for the integration of Smart Speakers in home automation.

Final judgement

To become a new Tony Stark very little is missing. These new smart speakers are incredible: the understanding of natural language is staggering, the proequally reflective, the availability of new functions and new areas of use is increasingly present.

The purchase does not scare (we speak of sustainable figures at the end) and the value of the investment it's very high: from the banal use of listening to the radio to the request to consult the proonline account, control home automation systems, make calls, send and receive messages: Amazon Alexa right now it's simply the TOP in the world of smart speakers.

We have used Amazon Echo for a month, in an environment controlled by Home Assistant, in the versions Plus and Dot: they convinced us both for rapid response in home automation as well as in the more ordinary use. Particularly, the Plus has excited us for the audio quality, a quality that you really don't expect objectively, especially in combination with Spotify in mode High Dynamic Range.

Opponents like Google e Apple a lot of work will have to be done to make up for a gap that, at the moment, it's pretty obvious. Only Google keeps up with the world Amazon Alexa; as for Siri, we do not express ourselves only as a matter of education and respect.

Amazon Echo: for us it is yes.
Convinced.


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