Complete Guide to the Amazon Alexa Family

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Confused by all the products in the Amazon Alexa family? Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.

Since Amazon created Alexa — a voice controlled, cloud based personal assistant that intelligently responds to questions and demands — it has revolutionized smart home living.

When combined with various other compatible devices, Alexa is capable of helping you complete otherwise tedious tasks from simple things such as checking the news and weather, setting alarms or managing your daily schedule, to more complicated chores such as monitoring home security or creating the ultimate climate control in your home without lifting a finger.

Alexa has experienced a huge surge in popularity since its creation in 2014, and as a result Amazon has evolved the Alexa world and added new Alexa compatible products to make life even easier (and arguably cooler).

Here’s our guide to the current 9 products in the Amazon Alexa family…

Amazon Echo (2nd Generation)

amazon echo review

When Alexa was originally launched, it was alongside the Amazon Echo.

The all-new Echo second generation is the result of 3 years of refinement of the original version, and there are a whole bunch of improvements — and what’s more it’s available at a more affordable price than the original version too.

The cylindrical design of the Echo 2 remains similar to the original, but the speaker has been made significantly smaller and now measures around 15 cm high and is available in several different finishes including fabric in heather grey, sandstone or charcoal, or metal versions in silver, oak or walnut styles.

Speaker quality has been boosted considerably too, and the Echo features dynamic bass with a 2.5 inch woofer, multiple tweeters and Dolby panoramic sound. Much better for listening to your favorite tunes. Alexa can also now hear you better too thanks to improved microphone technology.

The Echo is designed to work best for carrying out simple tasks around the home, connecting to your other smart home devices and as a beefed up speaker.

>>> Read our full review of the Amazon Echo

Echo Plus

echo plus review
The other reinvented version of the original Amazon Echo, the Amazon Echo Plus, looks almost identical to its predecessor and comes in a choice of three colors — white, silver or black.

In terms of sound quality the Echo Plus benefits from all the improvements made to the second generation Echo, including 360° Dolby audio and woofers and tweeters.

But it’s the smart functionality of the Echo Plus that really sets it apart.

Connecting to other smart devices with the Echo Plus has been made much simpler thanks to its integrated home hub. With this, Alexa will automatically detect compatible devices in the area with one simple voice command — so no need for additional apps or other intermediary steps to control smart devices around the home.

It’s even shipped out with a free Philips Smart bulb to get the smart home ball rolling!

In addition, Alexa will still carry out all the usual tasks of the Echo, but this time around it’s possible to group commands together meaning that several activities can be carried out at any one time — perfect for creating a morning or bedtime routine with just one simple voice command and particularly handy for those with hectic lifestyles who don’t have a lot of time to get organized.

Understandably the Amazon Echo Plus is priced higher than the Echo , but the advantages are worth it for the more tech savvy — especially if you’re already on board with other smart home devices.

Echo Dot (2nd Generation)

echo dot review

The Echo Dot is the most accessible product in the Amazon Alexa family thanks to its incredible low price, small portable size and opportunities to scale upwards.

It doesn’t have quite the speaker power of the Echo or Echo Plus range but it still packs a punch. It’s ideal for people on a budget or those making their first foray into the smart home world.

Just like the larger Echo, you control the Dot with your voice — allowing you to command Alexa to play music, control your other connected devices, make calls, ask for information, set alarms, read audiobooks and much more.

You’ll need to connect it to separate speakers or headphones to receive the full functionality — hence why it’s so much cheaper than the other Echo products.

One of the things we love about the Echo Dot is that you can buy multiples of them and station them throughout the rooms in your house, connecting them altogether, and creating harmony and widespread control throughout your home.

Echo Spot

echo spot review

Likely to be a big hit with teenagers and students, the endearing little Amazon Echo Spot functions with voice recognition in the same way as other products in the Alexa range, but it also features a mini 2.5 inch display screen so you can not only hear information but see it too, from music lyrics to text messages, video calls and news reports.

As with the other products, the Echo spot can be used as an alarm (in fact it’s perfectly proportioned to sit on a bedside table), to organize daily activities and to control Smart devices within the home.

It can also be used as a Smart camera monitor to keep an eye on what’s going on in another room in the house — very practical in a nursery for example.

The speaker system of the Echo Spot doesn’t have the bells and whistles of those of the Echo and Echo Plus, but it can be connected to external speakers to improve the sound quality.

Likewise the microphone is a little more basic, but it still functions pretty well.

The screen of the Echo Spot bumps up the price tag, making it a little more expensive than the Echo but still less expensive than the Echo Plus.

If you’re not likely to get much use out of the screen function, the Echo is probably a better option due to the improved speaker and microphone functions, but otherwise it makes a fine addition to an Alexa Smart network in the home.

Echo Show

echo show review

The Echo Show is essentially a larger version of the Spot — or an upgraded version of the Echo and Echo Plus.

Unlike the latter two, the Show has a screen, which allows Alexa to show you things. That could be things like footage from an integrated security camera, video content, photos, your calendar, live video calling and much more.

Much has been made of its usefulness in the kitchen, where it can show you recipes and methods without getting in the way like a laptop would.

Just like the Echo products, the Show is operated by voice control and enjoys a powerful Dolby speaker system, and has eight microphones so it can hear you from any direction.

Echo Look

Echo Look is the latest product in the Amazon Alexa family and — at the time of writing — is only available by invitation.

This is certainly a niche product but one that’s likely to go down a storm with fashionistas — it’s marketed as ‘an Echo focused on style’.

Essentially, it’s an Echo with a hands-free camera that can take full length, focused photos of you and your outfit, as well as hands-free video so you can check your look from every angle.

It comes equipped with built-in LED lighting, depth sensors and background blur to ‘make your outfits pop’.
Another bonus is the Style Check feature — this uses ever-improving machine learning to choose what looks best between two outfit choices and deliver advice from fashion experts.

All-New Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa Voice Remote

amazon fire tv review

Amazon Fire TV is a streaming media player, which takes content from the internet such as films, games and videos and displays it on your TV in 4K Ultra High Definition quality.

It’s basically a tiny little box only a few inches square that you simply plug into the HDTV slot in the back of your television which is operated via Alexa voice command over a remote control (it works a bit like a walkie talkie).

The previous version of Amazon Fire TV was only able to function with Amazon Alexa using the remote control which worked well but was a little clunky.

The new, revamped Fire TV however, is now completely integrated with the new generation of devices in the Alexa family — including the Echo Spot, Echo and Echo Plus — to make it completely hands-free just like any other Alexa device.

Using just voice commands it is now possible to search thousands of films, TV episodes, YouTube and other visual media on the internet and have it streamed directly to your television in extra high definition with high quality sound in seconds.

Even better you can use Alexa to dim the lights and order some takeout for you while you chill out on the couch and enjoy the show.

Although Amazon Fire TV is very reasonably priced, you’ll need to spend extra to benefit from Prime membership which gives you access to even more movies, TV series, sports channels, and music channels.

Echo Connect

echo connect review

The simple but clever Echo Connect connects your humble landline to Alexa allowing you to make hands-free voice calls wherever you are in the room.

In order for you to hear the person you are calling at the other end of the line, it’s necessary to use Amazon Echo Connect in conjunction with another Echo device with a speaker, such as the Echo, Echo Plus or Echo Dot.

Once linked with your landline and your smart phone, Amazon Echo Connect syncs with the contacts in your Smart phone to register all the numbers.

After that it’s simply a matter of telling Alexa who you want to call and Echo Connect will automatically make the call for you and play the audio through your compatible speaker device — easy!

What’s more, after the initial set-up, Echo Connect will automatically sync with your Smart phone, so any new contact numbers will be added without you having to think about it.

The Amazon Echo Connect device itself is affordable enough to make itself a good addition to your Alexa network, and there are no additional fees for using the service once you have bought the unit — although you’ll still need to keep your original landline contract in order for it to work, as well as having a compatible Alexa speaker device.

Echo Buttons

echo buttons
Giving an additional interactive element to the Amazon Alexa family, Echo Buttons offer an enjoyable, tactile way to play games with family members or friends via a compatible Echo device.

Echo buttons work by linking up to an Echo device and using Alexa skills, (basically apps created by parties other than Amazon) specifically — games.

These small, round buttons light up when in use and come in affordable packs of two and can be used like buzzers in trivia games enabling fast, fun group entertainment.

Perfect for time with the family!

 


What’s your favorite product in the Amazon Alexa family?

Editor

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