"Alexa: what's the weather like in London today?"
WATCH: Control4 Alexa Skill is now available for Amazon Echo in the UK:
We’ve had the Amazon Echo at Unique House for over a month now and the tech has impressed us all. The Smart Home Assistant, Alexa, is our go-to for everyday questions that we can’t quite be bothered to get our phones out and search the internet for like: what’s the weather like in London today? Or, who won gold in the 100m sprint at the Atlanta ’96 Games (to end a workplace feud!) The accuracy of voice recognition, and her ability to answer the majority of questions we’ve asked, is impressive. The omni-directional Bluetooth speaker too, connected with Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play etc. is constantly on in the office and certainly rivals similarly priced Sonos Play 1.
“Alexa is the most human sounding Smart Assistant we’ve heard, and it’s the convenience of getting an answer straight away that impresses me” Brian O’Mara – Unique Tech
A plus point for us is that Alexa is electronically disconnected from the microphone when muted – answering the initial security concerns we had. Alexa ‘wakes’ to the magic word and starts listening even from a great distance, when the music is on loud, or when there’s a busy office with different voices all at the same volume. Using its array of microphones that work together to do what’s called ‘beam-forming’ isolating a sound coming from a particular direction by cancelling out all the other noise. Quite brilliant indeed.
How easy is it to set up?
It’s a breeze setting up; plot your home and work addresses on your Alexa app profile so she can update accurate weather reports and traffic updates. Link your calendar and other essential accounts named Skills – full list of associated ones here – so she can integrate with all your favourite smartphone apps and work seamlessly e.g. order an Uber to your door or read out one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes. Online shopping has never been easier too; once you’ve linked your Amazon Prime account, Alexa can take orders, and will learn your favourites too.
Amazon Echo Main Uses
- It’s a great standalone Bluetooth connected speaker
Undeniably, Amazon Echo is a great standalone Bluetooth speaker with sound quality that rivals pricier competitors alike. Certainly worth it for the 360 degree omni-directional playback that’s on at your word.
- You’ll use it daily for weather updates and traffic reports
Which is a top selling point in England among other quick response questions like: did AFC Bournemouth win today? Who was number one in the charts this week? What was Henry VIII’s middle name? Etc.
- If you need to do a quick calculation or set the timer
Most useful skill of them all is the ability to do things you really don’t want to get your phone out for, especially if it’s out of reach, like doing a quick calculation, setting the timer, or adding something to your shopping list.
If you already have a sound system in your home then go for the cheaper, speaker-less Amazon Echo Dot. For a third of the price, at £39.99, you get the same smart technology with Alexa, just without the inbuilt Bluetooth speaker beneath. Worth a try for the price, and makes a great family present too.
The Verdict - Amazon Echo Review UK
As far as Smart Home Assistants go, Alexa’s hard to beat. In the office, we don’t use it too much because chances are someone’s connected to the internet and able to answer a question, play some music, or order something through Amazon. In the home, however, when you’ve a bag full of shopping or washing the dishes without access to your smartphone, Alexa is there on hand to add something to your shopping list, play whatever music you fancy, or tell you the headlines from today’s news.
Unique Tech Solutions
For all things technological. We’re authorised Control4 dealers and professional CEDIA installers with over 20 years industry experience and market leading when it comes to technical installations. Our expert team of friendly tech advisers are always on hand and happy to help, get in touch below or call us on 01202 743231.