I got a new toy today! I’ve been wanting an Amazon Echo smart speaker for a long time and the package arrived on my doorstep today. (It was a day late because of a shipping mix-up.)  Here it is!

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The Echo is a speaker that connects to the Internet via WiFi. You control it completely with your voice by addressing it with a wake-word. The default word for Echo is Alexa. Alexa is the name of Amazon’s virtual assistant. It’s about as tall as my hand or my smartphone. The speaker comes with a cord (this model needs to be plugged in all the time.) and some very basic instructions. The model I chose is covered with a charcoal fabric. I think it looks pretty stylish and would probably fit any decor.

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The plug goes into the base.

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On the top, you’ll find controls for power, volume control, and to turn the microphone off. If you just wanted to listen to music and not have the device listen for voice commands you can turn it off with the microphone button.

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Setting the device up was super-simple. First I went to the Google Play store to download the Alexa app for my Android phone. (iPhone users head to the Apple App store.)  Once the app is installed, just log in with your Amazon account. Once you log in, the Echo will be able to access all of your music, books, and media on Amazon. If you have a household account set up, the other people sharing the account with you need to download Alexa as well if they want to be able to access their books and music.

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Once the app is installed and your Echo is plugged in, open the Alexa app. The set-up process may start automatically. If not, tap the three-line menu icon. You’ll want to have the password for your home WiFi network handy.

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The set-up process may start automatically. If it doesn’t, choose Settings.

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If not, you may have to select your device or Set up a new device. 

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Then follow the step-by-step instructions from the app.

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You’ll need to open up the settings on your phone to connect to an Amazon PA7 network.

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Then you’ll log onto your home WiFi. Then your Echo is good to go.  I think it’s a very nice speaker, though I will admit that I’m not actually an audiophile. My husband is, though, and he says it sounds pretty good as well.

I will admit that the first thing I did after setting it up was change the wake word (the word you use to let the speaker know you’re talking to it) to computer. Because that makes it all feel like Star Trek.

So far, just by using my voice, I’ve had Echo play music from both my personal playlists and Amazon’s stations. I discovered that I can ask it to identify a song, skip ahead to a song, or lower and raise the volume.

I can also ask where my stuff is, and Alexa will track my packages. There’s a little ring of light around the top of the speaker that flashes when I have a shipping notification. Alexa has also looked up the weather, read me local news briefs, read a book aloud to me, and given me movie times at my local theaterI also made a voice-activated phone call to my husband and spoke to him through the speaker.

The microphones in the Echo are pretty sensitive and can hear you from anywhere in the room. I could address the device from anywhere upstairs with the doors open and even from half-way down the stairs.

As I get more familiar with Echo, I’ll tell you more about how it works.

You can check out the Echo on Amazon by clicking here.