by: Weldon Johnson, Letsrun.com
April 19, 2016
Today we start a new feature on LetsRun.com: Products We Use and Recommend.
LetsRun.com if first and foremost a community and if there is some product we really like, we might as well tell you about it and vice versa.
Today’s product is the Amazon Echo. Today only in celebration of Amazon being named the “No. 1 Most Reputable Company in the U.S” by the Reputation Institute it is on sale for $153.71 (instead of $179.99).
Site co-founder Rojo just texted me and said we should put something up on this even though it is 7pm on the East coast. I like the Echo so much I agreed.
What is Echo? It is a smart blutooth speaker that can talk back to you or play music. Sort of like Siri for an iphone with an external speaker, but I think way better.
I got an Echo last year as a gift and figured it was more of a novelty item. Who cares if I can ask it who won the 1956 World Series?
I let it sit for a few months doing nothing. Then I finally plugged the thing in and started using it and now I highly recommend it.
It makes things I want to do involving music much easier. If I want to listen to music I just say, “Alexa (you say the word alexa to get the devices attention), play music.” And it will pick a Amazon prime music station that I may like. I can be more specific if I want and say, “Alexa play Coldplay” and it will play Coldplay. No fumbling for my phone, syncing with my phone or any of that. But if I want to sync with my phone it makes that very easy. “Alexa sync with my phone” and soon it was bluetoothing with my phone. My parents could have even figured out how to set this up.
I didn’t realize how much music I had at my command from Amazon prime (You can sync with pandora and others if you use those).
I listen to sports radio as well and the best thing about the Echo is it can hook in with other services. I just tell it to listen to an IHeart Radio station and next thing I know The Ticket (my favorite sport radio station) is playing on it.
I also use it as a timer in the kitchen and an alarm. “Alexa set a timer for 7 minutes.” “Alexa set an Alarm for 7 pm.” “Alexa set an alarm for weekdays 7 am”. It is quite “smart.” The best thing about it is always on and I don’t have to do anything to get its attention except say “Alexa” and I can even yell across the room at it. “Alexa is Chili’s open?”
For me primarily I use it for music, talk radio, and as a timer and alarm. It takes no effort on my part of hitting buttons on my phone.
I also use it for the weather forecast and sports scores, but I am starting to see it can do a lot more by linking up with external apps. I have synced it with todoist.com and my google calendar and now I can add things to both of these just speaking to alexa. Never do I have to worry about having a pen or phone to write something down. Alexa “Add blank to my to do list” and it is on there.
You want an Uber. Tie the echo to your uber account and tell it to get you an uber. Want to reorder something from amazon automatically? It can do that. What the sports scores from last night? Go ahead, that’s already built in. Want a pizza? It can order you one.
If you have smart devices in your house it can turn them on and off (I don’t). But if you want it to sync with a host of things there is a third party website full of If, Then commands that it can easily do. Lose your phone a lot? Tell it to call it.
If you’re thinking about getting an Echo, go ahead and do it. There are now 2 main Echo Family devices. The Amazon Echo device above which has to be plugged in. That is the only drawback with the device, but I like mine so much I’ll take it to different rooms in the house and plug it in. It automatically connects to the internet in say roughly 30 seconds once its been set up and replugged in.
There is a new version, the Amazon Tap, that runs of batteries, but you have to physically tap it to get it to listen to you. The beauty of the Echo for me is I can yell at it across the room. Click below to buy the Amazon Echo.
(Rojo is going to add how he uses the Echo here if you want to check back later tonight).
Update by rojo: I love this device and I almost never ever use Siri on my iphone. With Echo, you don’t have to push a button and the speaker sounds amazing. You can just say from across the room, “Alexa, play WCBM (my favorite radio station)” and it finds it on tune-in and does it. That being said, I’m very interested in using the new Tap device as then I could carry it from room to room as I normally use Echo to listen to the radio during my lunch break and I like to make lunch in a different room from eating it.
LetsRun.com does get a commission if you buy the products from our amazon links, but trust us we love this product and we’re skeptical at first. Amazon did not pay us for this review.