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Amazon Echo

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by Scott-S, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. Scott-S

    Scott-S Cinematographer
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    Hello, I am not sure exactly where the Echo fits in this place, so I thought I would try here.....


    I just got my Echo yesterday and and I am in the "getting used to it" phase.


    Does anyone else here have experience with it?


    After a few attempts at set-up, I was finally able to get it to connect to the Android App. The instructions on this first step are not very accurate, but my perseverance prevailed.


    So far, the only comment I have on the performance is pretty positive. I only have 3 Mb internet speed and have not experienced and lag when making a request. I also have been impressed with the out of the box voice recognition. I have not done the voice training yet, but it understood everything I have said so far.


    I will slowly check out the features over the next few weeks and if anyone else is interested, I will post my comments here.
     
  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Scott,


    YOU ARE THE GUY I WANT TO TALK TO


    I preordered one of these Echo thingies a few months ago because it was being offered for $100 to Prime Members.


    Mine isn't due to ship until May.


    So, I really don't know what this thing is capable of doing. Will be interested to hear what kind of questions you are asking Echo.


    Coincidentally, since Echo's introduction, there are other similar devices that have come out of the woodwork that I have been looking at --- primarily because they interact with the Logitech Harmony remotes.


    There is UBI and IVEE. Both seem a little more sophisticated than Echo.


    Please keep us posted. I may have many questions. One of the interesting things I like is the ability to dictate email.
     
  3. Scott-S

    Scott-S Cinematographer
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    Ron,


    Right now Amazon seems to still be treating the Echo as "in development". I think that is why they are releasing it slowly. The usage is sort of basic right now, but they claim more things will be added as time goes by. If they ever open up the code (API) so others can develop stuff for it, it can be quite cool. The Hardware itself seems quite well built. The voice recognition was really good and the ability to hear from a distance even with the TV on actually works better than I was hoping.Hopefully the software will keep improving which could really make this think amazing.


    Out of the box, the most useful things are the Music playing. It sees all my amazon prime music and I can play anything I want from that. I tested the bluetooth and was able to play anything in my library on my phone to it like a standard bluetooth speaker.


    The set alarm and timer seem to work fine. I have yet to test the shopping list or the other music options. I did verify it can live stream my local radio stations which is cool.


    It has the ability to report (sort of) customized new briefings. They are just pre-recorded news blurbs from NPR or BBC in categories you can select from the app. I have yet to actually listen to one but that is next on my list.


    I haven't spent too much time with it yet, but I expect to play with it a lot over this weekend.


    I will post more in a few days.


    p.s. it is "toys" like this that make not having kids worth it. :D
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Scott,


    Thanks for offering to continue to keep us posted.


    I look forward to your updates.
     
  5. Ejanss

    Ejanss Banned
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    I suspect they thought we would all be like Gary Busey for real:

    "Lookit whatcha can do, lookit whatcha can do! :D "

    (Now there was an image that gave the Fire TV credibility...)


    Me, I wouldn't say I'm a bit of a Mumbles, but I've never met a voice recognition device that liked me, including recorded phone menus.
     
  6. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Voice recognition on the Echo is phenomenally good. I've had mine for about 2 months and find it to be a very useful device. It's definitely still a work in progress but Amazon has been updating it on average very 10-14 days with new features. Some are good, some are irrelevant to my usage.
     
  7. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    My Echo was delivered on December 28th and I love it. We mainly use it for playing a particular radio station in the mornings (via TuneIn I believe,) and listening to my (substantial) music collection that I have stored on the Amazon cloud. I also use it for new flash briefings (from NPR and BBC News) from time to time.


    It can be squirrely understanding what's being asked for - but I put that down to my American/English accent.


    It recently added traffic information, so I entered my work address as the destination in the accompanying app and it can tell me the traffic for the primary route I take to work.


    I get emails from time to time from Amazon when they've added a new feature (I think since December I've had three, with the traffic updates, ask for jokes, and one other that escapes me now,) so while it does a handful of cool things now, I get the sense that they will add and add to make this thing more unique and interactive. Haven't seen anything about email dictation, just ability to add things to a to-do list (shopping list mainly.) But I haven't fully explored everything it can yet...


    I'm a BIG fan of this thing - though I wish I could change the start-up word to "Computer" and have a Majel Barrett impersonator do the voice (bringing me one step closer to being on the USS Enterprise,) but that's okay.


    I think if you see it as the start of something, rather than a fully-formed offering, you'll enjoy it.
     
  8. Scott-S

    Scott-S Cinematographer
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    Amazon just added Pandora to the Echo. Now you can link to your Pandora account and play your stations.


    I have had my Echo a couple of weeks now and I am still very happy with it.


    The actual voice recognition ability is superb for me. If there is any issue with Alexa not getting my request right, it has always been what the server does with my command, not the recognition. You can see a history of your commands that Alexa heard and in every case, she heard correctly, but was not able to look up or do what I asked. This is very good news to me. This means since the hardware is solid, they can keep tweaking the server side code making it better and better.
     
  9. Scott-S

    Scott-S Cinematographer
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    Good news everyone....


    I guess Amazon is serious about adding features to the Echo.


    I just got an email from them stating you can now use the Echo for controlling WeMo and Philips Hue products. I do not have any of these yet, but I guess you can now turn on lights, dim them etc. by voice command if you have these controllers.


    I am going to try and find one of the applicable devices and give it a try.


    This has turned out to be quite the fun little "toy". :)
     
    Neil Middlemiss likes this.
  10. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    That made my day.


    I have the Hue Iris and strip lights in my theater room. Really cool that I will be able to control them with voice commands.
     
  11. Scott-S

    Scott-S Cinematographer
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  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Thanks for the link, Scott. Just finished reading it. Very exciting stuff. Keep us posted on your experiences as I probably will not have my Echo until sometime next month.
     
  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    My Echo should finally arrive tomorrow.


    Not certain I a really excited about it. I ordered it several months ago, on a whim, mostly because it was being offered to PRIME members for $100.


    So, I am going to have this thing tomorrow and I am not certain exactly what I am going to use it for. Yeah, I could ask it to tell me the weather or play a song. However, I have a phone that will do that as well.


    Might be cool to forego the alarm clock and simply say, "Wake me up at 7am." Kind of a set it and forget it.


    Will keep you updated on my progress with this device.
     
  14. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    This reminds me of the Sony Dash. That thing died a quick death because it wasn't marketed properly. I have one and think it's great. It was really an internet connected alarm clock. It had a touch screen like a tablet so you could watch YouTube videos on it, or install various apps to get news feeds, weather maps, facebook, twitter, etc, displayed on the screen. It could play a variety of internet radio stations (pandora, etc). Multiple alarms could be set if your schedule varies (like mine does). It sounds like Echo is along those lines - a Siri without the screen.


    We'll see how it goes but it may not sell very well.
     
  15. Scott-S

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    I am still liking mine. I mainly use it as a voice controlled music player in my bedroom. For the $99 I paid, I think I am getting my money's worth.


    I am planning on trying out the light control soon, but want to do some more research into which of the 2 supported systems is for me.


    I did see that they just added some support for IFTTT (If this, Then That). To be honest, I don't know anything about this but is sounds like it might be nice if the apps support it.
     
  16. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Scott,


    My unit's delivery has been delayed until Monday.


    I have the Philips Hue lights system (LED strips and Iris) for my Home Theater, so it will be kind of cool to say "Alexa, turn on my Hue lights" and then walk into a lit home theater. I have the option on my iPhone and Apple Watch as well, but I like hands-free aspect of the Echo.


    I downloaded IFTTT for the iPhone. Could not figure out how to get it to work. Would love a tutorial on using IFTTT as it does seem like it serves a very big purpose and opens up a wealth of command options for devices.


    So glad to hear you are still enjoying your unit. Thanks for keeping us updated.
     
  17. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I just found this thread. I will be interested to hear your experiences, Ron. I pre-ordered an Echo for pretty much the same reason you did -- it was being offered to Prime members for $100. I had actually forgotten that I had ordered one until seeing this thread -- I placed the order back on January 15th. According to Amazon, mine is scheduled to "arrive" May 28 - July 3, which is a pretty wide range of dates!
     
  18. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Scott,


    Sorry to reply a bit late. Been busy.


    The Echo has been sitting on my kitchen counter for a few days now.


    It's a curiosity -- that's for certain. It comes in handy for asking little questions like, "what's the weather today" or "Did the Yankees win last night?"


    It works best as a kitchen timer. Just tell it to set a timer for XX minutes, and away it goes.


    There are things it can't answer. It can't tell you how the stock market is doing. There were other questions that I threw at it that it couldn't figure out.


    Thanks to its many microphones, it picks up your voice from across the room. Very reliable in responding every time you wake it with, "Hey Alexa....."


    Waiting for Philips Hue lighting support, and hopefully, NEST control.


    For $100 it's a worthy purchase. For anything more than that, it's definitely skippable.
     
  19. Scott-S

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    Ron, I thought they (Amazon) just added Hue support. It might only be on/off support, but hopefully they will add more.

    You might want to look into some of the IFTTT apps. There might be one of those that support the NEST. Since Amazon just added some IFTTT support, that might be a way to do it. Just guessing tho because I haven't had a chance to do my due diligence on home automation stuff yet.
     
  20. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Scott,


    Been having a tough time figuring out IFTTT.


    I mean, it looks easy, but I installed it on my iPhone, set up a command, and it did not work.


    BTW, the command was for Siri to control the Hue Lights.
     

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