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Old 01-02-2015, 06:20 PM   #1
tubemonkey
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Arrow Amazon Echo Club

This will be our home for almost all things Echo. There's a thread in the Audiobook Forum for discussions related to its use as an audiobook player --> Amazon Echo

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Originally Posted by HarryT
This device really isn't a good fit for MR's areas of interest: mobile devices and reading. The moderating team have had a chat about this, and we recommend that you discuss its audiobook facets in the audiobook forum, and anything else in the Lounge.
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Amazon Echo is designed around your voice. It's always on—just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more. Echo begins working as soon as it detects the wake word. You can pick Alexa or Amazon as your wake word. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.

Important Links

Amazon Echo Specs --> iFixit Teardown
  • Released --> 06 Nov 2014
  • CPU* --> single core -- ARM Cortex-A8 (TI DM3725)
  • Speed* --> up to 1.0GHz
  • RAM* --> 256MB -- not expandable
  • ROM --> 4GB -- not expandable
  • WiFi --> dual band -- 802.11 abgn
  • Bluetooth --> 4.0
  • Tweeter --> 1 x 2.0" -- x W
  • Woofer --> 1 x 2.5" -- x W
  • Dimensions --> 9.25" x 3.27" -- x lbs
  • Power --> AC only --- Input: 120~240V - 0.6A --- Output: 21W - 15V - 1.4A
  • Prices --> $199 / $99 (for prime members)
  • Notes --> CPU, Speed, RAM are similar to the iPod touch 4 released in Sep 2010


Wishlist for Additional Features
  • Audible integration
  • OverDrive integration
  • ability to add apps
  • multiple voice reminders -- ie: PTA meeting at 7pm - take 8pm meds
  • iTunes integration
  • ability to turn off cards and/or delete them easier
  • full versions of iHeartRadio and TuneIn Radio
  • Echo app for Win Phn 8
.

Last edited by tubemonkey; 01-21-2015 at 04:00 AM.
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Old 01-02-2015, 06:37 PM   #2
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What is your primary use for the Echo?

For me, it's music and audiobooks. With only three apps onboard so far -- Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio -- the music selections are quite good. Audiobook playback is very weak without dedicated apps like Audible and OverDrive. Hopefully, that changes in the near future.

Right now, I'm listening to Grieg - 100 Supreme Classical Masterpieces via Amazon Music. He's one of my top three composers. The other two are Mozart and Tchaikovsky. Earlier today, I was listening to The Planets by Holst via Prime Music.
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Old 01-02-2015, 07:32 PM   #3
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Quote:
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What is your primary use for the Echo?
Does waiting for my invitation to purchase count?
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Old 01-02-2015, 08:46 PM   #4
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I've had mine for two days. For something that for me has the potential in becoming a 'drawer toy', I like it.

Not sure if I have a primary use in mind for it but I do find it useful. On command music & radio is an obvious plus. I didn't realize how much free stuff (that I like) is on Amazon. Also pairing it to my various iDevices has allowed me access to several years of purchased favorites all available for the asking (thanks Alexa!). Did I mention how much I like the voice command?

Also there are the little things I find useful - on demand weather info for wherever, basic cooking math and a hands free timer! I'm still exploring its linguistic limits - posing questions in a way that doesn't generate a Bing search in my Echo app is still a bit frustrating. It also upon occasion generates hilarious results. A couple of sessions of voice training has been helpful in Alexa understanding my particular way of pronouncing English.

All in all I'm quite happy with it and look forward to where the device's functions are taken by Amazon.

tubemonkey: great music choices! I haven't listened to The Planets since I sold my LP collection a few years back. Now in one of my playlists!
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Old 01-02-2015, 08:48 PM   #5
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First I've heard of this. I put in my request as a Prime member. My interest will drop considerably if I can't get the Prime offer.
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Old 01-03-2015, 02:28 PM   #6
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Tubemonkey: Thank you for setting up the two new Echo threads!
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Old 01-03-2015, 04:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tubemonkey View Post
What is your primary use for the Echo?
I use it mainly for streaming music (in the evening / weekends) and checking the weather (in the morning). I have it set up so that I can access it from anywhere in the house, and Alexa can hear me from upstairs or down, so it's great to just make a request and have it happen.

I've used the grocery list once, which was seamless and wonderful for making up the Christmas cooking ingredients list. Never used the to-do list, though. I'm thinking about loading up some podfic in my Amazon library to see how it does with that. Periodically I'll get my news brief over dinner or when I'm making coffee in the mornings, but music is the number one use.
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Old 01-03-2015, 07:46 PM   #8
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I received my Echo late yesterday afternoon, and I've been busy playing with Alexa.

Here are my initial observations and tips:

I had to adjust European ebook prices to conform with the new VAT-inclusive pricing law that went into effect January 1st. Alexa helped by converting Euros and GBPs into US dollars! For example, if I say "Alexa, convert three point nine nine Euros," she responds: "Three Euros and ninety-nine cents is four dollars and eighty-one cents." Off by two cents, but close enough.

Prime stations aren't directly supported yet, so to get around that, I use bluetooth on my Fire HD 6 to play the station on Echo. First, I say, "Alexa, pair." I then turn on bluetooth on the tablet. Next, I go to Fire's music app and play the station. I can control Echo's volume by saying "Alexa, volume up/down," but other Echo voice control functions don't work in this mode. When I'm ready to stop, I disconnect bluetooth on the tablet.

I've used Alexa to check the weather ("Alexa, weather"), listen to news ("Alexa, news"), set a timer, and asked movie trivia questions. I will try the shopping list soon.

I'll be using Echo mostly to play music. Alexa understands when I verbally request a specific album, song, artist, or playlist in my Prime library. She complies with some TuneIn verbal requests: Radio Paradise, Grateful Dead Radio, Hawaiian Rainbow, and Tiki Bar Radio. Other TuneIn stations will not play unless I choose them in the Echo app. I haven't tried iHeartRadio yet.

We watched a Prime video last night (sent to TV via HDMI from my Fire HD 6) and used Echo as a speaker (connected via bluetooth). Picture and words may be out of sync if Echo's too far away, but it worked fine for us.

Overall, I'm VERY happy with the Echo! It seems well built, and music quality is excellent for a $99 speaker. I look forward to additional features that will be added in the future!
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Old 01-04-2015, 04:08 PM   #9
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Thumbs up

I like that you don't have to use the wake word (Alexa or Amazon) when you speak into the remote!
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Old 01-04-2015, 06:24 PM   #10
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Has anyone figured out how to get more than a sentence or two response from a Wikipedia query?

Note to Amazon: A "Wiki:more info" command would be nice.
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Old 01-04-2015, 07:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jemc View Post
Has anyone figured out how to get more than a sentence or two response from a Wikipedia query?

Note to Amazon: A "Wiki:more info" command would be nice.
I haven't experimented much with that, but I do know that a relevant link to Wikipedia is sent to the Echo app on my Fire HD6 when I request info verbally. Clicking that link brings up more information from the Wiki website, although Alexa doesn't read it aloud.
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Old 01-04-2015, 08:18 PM   #12
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I haven't experimented much with that, but I do know that a relevant link to Wikipedia is sent to the Echo app on my Fire HD6 when I request info verbally. Clicking that link brings up more information from the Wiki website, although Alexa doesn't read it aloud.
Yes, that is pretty much all I get beyond the vocalized first few bits of the wiki entry. I was hoping for a bit more "intelligence" in the verbal queries. Maybe a verbal menu into the wiki entry main data. For now, the query responses are mostly turning out to be just a quick novelty for me - direct keyboard surfing on google is much more useful to me... oh well.

Last edited by jemc; 01-04-2015 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:12 PM   #13
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I use it for music which can be a it tricky. Some of my favorite stations are german stations so its still a learning curve between me and Alexa.
Sometimes she cracks me up. I ask for Beethoven station and it asks me, here is Adele shuffled. Really? Beethoven sounds like Adele?

Its also funny when I sit 4 feet away and can't understand me and my husband whispers from above me from the loft which is semi open and it hears and understands him just fine. Grumble. I think she likes him more.

Shopping list is great, especially when I have my hands full and I just found a great use by finding out the time in different places in the world for my Tennis I like to watch. Its all starting up again and I kind of know whats what, but I don't want to miss anything so I ask.
It tells me what the weather is back home with my mom in Germany, I am in the US.

I do know I need to so some meta cleaning of my cloud music so it can find it easier.

its a great tea timer. . I drink a lot of tea and often with different times. I am very particular.

Its been really fun figuring out how to ask things and all that.

I found a good place for it in a kind of corner between the living room and dining so it has good accustics. I have tall ceilings so sound travels up and around.

So I am still working on pronouncation of stuff sometimes. It did get Quatar right away, but not Doha for example. That is for my tennis.

I am still amazed at how far away it can hear us. I can be upstairs in the bedroom and it hears me. We do have tall ceilings with partical open loft before you get the the bedroom, but still.

I don't like that I can't see my favorite stations in the Tune in app. SInce I do have several german stations, the only way to play them is from the app as Alexa just doesn't understand german. But they aren't there. They show in the regular Tune in app, but not in the Echo app.

Every morning I start with the news it reads to me while my eyes start to un-gunk and I make my tea.
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Old 01-06-2015, 05:36 PM   #14
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I don't like that I can't see my favorite stations in the Tune in app. SInce I do have several german stations, the only way to play them is from the app as Alexa just doesn't understand german. But they aren't there. They show in the regular Tune in app, but not in the Echo app.
Were you looking for Antenne Bayern 80er Kulthits? It's in TuneIn within the Echo app, along with at least 13 other Antenne Bayern stations. Tap on TuneIn and then search for Antenne Bayern to find them.
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Old 01-07-2015, 09:28 AM   #15
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I use it for a lot of things, music, weather, but my most favorite is using it for math. Started a new diet as hubby was diagnosed with Diabetes tyoe 2. I use it to divide large portions. The timer is fantastic as not only for baking and cooking, I use it for reminding me to do something.
My hubby always rolls his eyes at all the gadgets I buy but even he as admited to others how useful it is. Every one that we have showed it to has wanted one and put themselves on the waiting list. 2 were not Prime members so they were excited to see you get a free year.

Now, if I could get the grandkids to leave it alone! Ha!

Thanks tubemonkey for the threads!
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