The Guardian in the UK reviews the new (to the UK) Echo, Amazons voice controlled assistant for the home. The Guardian asks "Amazon’s Echo voice-controlled smart speaker is finally available in the UK, but was the wait worth it?"
Our new Phuket, Thailand office will likely feature Echo (as my home does now) and Googles Home - Lets see what Apple bring to the table.
- Alexa differentiates between the singular and plural of words - light versus lights elicits different responses
- Talking to it like a human gets better results than like a robot in sentence structure
- The Alexa app on your phone is relatively slow - use it where you have solid Wi-Fi
- House guests were amazed by Echo - it is definitely a statement piece in a house
- You can buy products from Amazon via voice, which works just fine if you know what you’re after, but it’s a lot easier to just pull out a smartphone in most instances
The Amazon Echo is a device that once you get into your home you’ll find more and more uses for it. The question is really whether it does something that’s interesting or useful enough for you to buy it.
It’s a pretty good speaker, but not the best. It has fantastic voice recognition and can hear you from anywhere over anything. It will pretty much always understand what you’re saying but can’t always help you out with it. It has third-party apps for most things and more appear each day.
Is voice the best way to access everything? No. Is it the most convenient for a lot of things? Absolutely. The potential privacy implications of having an internet-connected listening device in your home aside, having something that understands you and just does what you need nine times out of 10 is brilliant.
The Echo is the best voice assistant-come-speaker you can buy in the UK at the moment. But it won’t be the only one in the near future. Google’s Home has the advantage of access to more data than anything else on the planet, but data is only one part of the equation. Being able to hear and understand you every time is the most important thing for a voice-only object and Amazon has absolutely nailed that with Echo.
Pros: can almost always hear you, mute button electrically disconnects the mics, rotating light ring obvious, lots of third-party apps, sounds pretty good, sounds more human than any other voice assistant
Cons: can’t always answer the question, always-listening object in your house, doesn’t support multiple user calendars or personal information, only one Spotify or Amazon music account can be linked at any one time