The Amazon Echo was initially introduced in the tail end of 2014, to US based Amazon Prime members, initially as an invite only affair. While limited at the time, Amazon have continually updated and improved the Echo prior to a wider release in the summer of 2015, allowing third party companies to add their own twist on things, via what Amazon call Skills. Finally, we had the UK launch last month, with a discount to Prime members, lowering the cost from £149.99 to just £99.99 for the first two days it was available to pre-order.
As something of a fan of smart home functionality the wait was annoying, but actually to the benefit of the UK market (in most areas) since it has given Amazon a chance to bring a pretty mature and solid product to market.
Presenting, the Echo
The Echo ships in a black box, with a slip on cover featuring a blue triangular motif, adorned with a picture of the unit itself and various commands you can use with the Echo on the front, product features and some supported skills on one side and the various virtues of the echo listed on the rear. Internally the packaging is a similar shade of blue, with the star of the show clearly presented on opening, in addition to the Echo there are a few simple manuals and some regulatory paperwork and the power supply.
Internally, thanks to an iFixit teardown we have a pretty good idea of the devices internals, which can help form an understanding of what to expect from the unit, 7 mics at the top of the unit assist with listening out for user commands, with support for user positional tracking, a 2.5” sub and 2.0” tweeter supply the audio, which I go into a bit more detail on later.
Ease of Use9.5/10
- Smart Home intergration
- Good quality voice recognition
- Ability to learn and adapt over time, meaning natural improvements with prolonged use
- Speakers while OK could be better
- Occaisional oddities with user experience