The Amazon Echo is a high-quality device in both its form and function. For my interests in the Echo, I thought that the special price of 99$ for Prime Members was a bargain. For others I think it’s going to have to do a lot more, especially to justify the intended regular price of 199$.
I’ve been using my Echo for over a week and I like having it around, but should you get one at 99$ ? Well, if what you’re looking for in the Amazon Echo is:
- A personal assistant
Right now the Echo has limited capabilities which consist of a small set of actions for a handful of categories – music, lists, information, weather or time. If you like technology and during the day you make lots of searches/queries in at least one of those categories then I would consider it. Otherwise, the Echo’s novelty is likely to fade quickly.
Simply determine if any of your most-accessed mobile apps fit into the categories above. I find that I use Echo mostly for its music and news broadcasts and often ask help with weather, my shopping list, and timers. Similarly, I already have corresponding mobile apps which I use on a daily basis.
The Echo works really well as a Bluetooth speaker and has no trouble filling a large room with good quality sound. Playing bass-heavy music, like hip-hop or dance music, on the highest volume didn’t produce any obvious distortion. But even at 99$, I think that purchasing the Echo as just a speaker is a hard sell considering the likelihood another one on Amazon could outperform Echo for half that price.
However, if the prospect of having the additional personal-assistant functionality is remotely interesting, then I’d consider it. What you’ll experience at least once when you use Echo, like when setting up your Bluetooth connection, is how easy it is to use technology when your voice becomes the UI.
I’ve never owned a Bluetooth speaker before, but now I use Echo to play audio from my iPhone or iPad when using apps like Pandora or Newsy. I prefer the enhanced sound quality, plus it’s cool that I can still control the volume with my voice.
If you’re a technophile, a hard-core developer or someone that likes to play with cutting-edge technology then the Echo is for you. It’s already a very robust piece of technology which offers a glimpse of the future and will help you to re-imagine personal computing. However, to ensure a lasting relationship, refer to the guidelines I mentioned above in Personal Assistant as they still apply… at least until Amazon releases a dev kit.
I can envision a day that this type of technology plays a huge part in personal computing, but there’s a long road ahead before we’re there. So if you’re still on the fence about the Echo then you should probably sit out for awhile and wait until the technology matures.