Echo Show 2 review

With the original Echo Show, Amazon added a new dimension to the smart speaker. To critics, the device was little more than a station tablet. For Amazon, however, the product unlocked a new vertical in the rapidly expanding category. The day to usefulness wasn’t always clear, but the potential certainly was, as Amazon and the […]

With the original Echo Show, Amazon added a new dimension to the smart speaker. To critics, the device was little more than a station tablet. For Amazon, however, the product unlocked a new vertical in the rapidly expanding category. The day to usefulness wasn’t always clear, but the potential certainly was, as Amazon and the competition looked to corner the smart home market.

Like most of the company’s first generation products, however, the hardware wasn’t great. The first Show was big and clunky. It looked dated before it even arrived in living rooms and kitchens. But it got the job done.

While the company hasn’t released sales figures for the product, the first gen clearly sold briskly in its early days, according to rankings. The numbers were ultimately hobbled by a war with Google that resulted in YouTube being pulled from the platform, but on a whole, the device appears to be a hit.

It’s already inspired a number of copycats. In January, Google announced a new Smart Display category relying on third parties to product their own Assistant-powered take on the device. And later this week, it’s expected to introduce its own competitor, the Home Hub. It’s fitting, then, that the second-gen Show bears Google’s unmistakable influence. Heck, it’s kind of theme in this latest batch of Echo devices.

There’s little question that the new show is much better looking product than its predecessor. The big, thick, plasticky look has been traded in for something a bit more homey, with a softer, fabric covering. The front, which was previously home to both display and speaker, is now all screen — meaning those tablet comparisons aren’t going away any time soon.

Still, from a pure design perspective, Lenovo’s Smart Display is the one to beat. It’s still far and away the best looking of the bunch — though the aforementioned Home Hub could give it a run for its money in the near future.

The design choice means there’s a lot more room for screen, which has been increased from seven to 10.1 inches (with a still fairly sizable bezel). That extra real estate makes the product a more compelling offering for watching short videos or episodic TV shows (I don’t know that I’d recommend it for a full film just yet) and finally offers enough space for something like a browser to make sense on the product.

The speaker, meanwhile, has been moved to the rear of the device. It’s a decision that makes sense from an aesthetic perspective, but is a bit less than practical. When listening to music while writing this review, I found myself actually flipping it around.

Sound quality has been notably improved with improved drivers and Dolby bass, but things get a bit muffled when faced away from you. The bass is also a bit too powerful for its own good here, contributing to a muddying of the sound quality. Thankfully, Alexa now understands you when you ask her to turn down the bass.

Things improve a bit when you place it around six inches from a wall, reflecting the sound back at you. Of course, not every home set up can accommodate that orientation. Either way, I wouldn’t recommend looking to the Show as your primary music listening device. Apple and Google’s high end speakers simply sound better — or build your own using the various modular pieces the company announced at its last event.

With a larger display, the new Show demands touch. Amazon clearly recognized this during the redesign. While, like its predecessor, it’s designed to be voice-first device touch-based interactions are more prevalent here.

Exhibit A is the addition of Firefox. It’s a bit of a strange one. You can call it up with an, “Alexa, open Firefox,” but actually browsing the web is a bit trickier. There’s no skill yet for, say, “open TechCrunch.com in Firefox.” Rather, you’ll have to open Firefox and either type the URL with two fingers, or click the microphone icon to speak it.

It’s a nice option certainly, if a bit clunky. Also, there’s no multitouch pinch to zoom here — in fact, so far as I can tell, there’s no way to zoom in at all. What the browser does afford, however, is a workaround for YouTube. Say “Alexa, open YouTube,” and the Show will offer you the choice of watching content in either Firefox or the Silk browser. Sure, it’s not ideal compared to a native app, but until the companies kiss and make up, or, more likely, Amazon launches its own competing service, it will have to do.

The other big news here is a bit of a no-brainer. After bringing smart home hub functionality to the Echo line with the Plus, Amazon has done the same with the Show. The smart screen now features a Zigbee hub inside. Connecting devices is pretty straightforward — just put them in pairing mode and say “Alexa, discover my devices.” If everything goes right, the whole process should take under a minute.

Thankfully, an app redesign has arrived alongside the new devices, so those smart devices can be accessed on your mobile device, along with the Show. The app also lets users routines around groups of devices, so you can, say, turn up the lights, turn on the coffee and get the day’s news (shudder) with an “Alexa, good morning.”

The new Show is nice upgrade over its predecessor. It’s better looking, has a bigger screen and improved (if backwards) speakers, while smart home hub functionality and last year’s addition of security camera monitoring make it a control panel for the smart home. The ball is in your court, Google.

Nielsen: U.S. smart speaker adoption grew to 24% in Q2 2018, 4 in 10 own more than one

In the second quarter, the adoption of smart speakers – like Amazon Echo and Google Home devices – grew to 24% in the U.S., up from 22% the prior quarter, according to new data from Nielsen, released this week. The measurement firm took a look at how consumers were using their speakers, when, as well […]

In the second quarter, the adoption of smart speakers – like Amazon Echo and Google Home devices – grew to 24% in the U.S., up from 22% the prior quarter, according to new data from Nielsen, released this week. The measurement firm took a look at how consumers were using their speakers, when, as well as how many were buying multiple devices.

The firm found that 4 out of 10 smart speaker owners have more than one device – a sizable percentage that points to consumers finding enough value in their first device to add more throughout the home.

The living room is the most popular location for smart speaker placement (63%), followed by the bedroom (35%), and then the kitchen (28%).

This is not surprising, given that the primary use case for the devices is music streaming, with 90% of smart speaker owners saying that stream music at least once per week.

Searching for real-time information like weather or traffic, followed by searches for historical facts were the next most popular activities, at 81% and 75%, respectively. News was tied for fourth place, with 68% listening in a typical week.

68% also said they chatted with their assistant for fun and used alarms and timers.

That so many people are chatting with their smart assistants, like Alexa and Google Assistant, in a more playful capacity is worth noting here. It’s not enough for these voice platforms to be good and finding and retrieving information and taking actions, they have to do that with some personality, too. Amazon has even gone so far as to give Alexa her own opinions on things like pets, beer, movies, colors, and more, which change from time to time.

Smart speakers are also acting as a bit of an extension of our mobile devices, the report said. Nielsen found that consumers were syncing data from their phones to the voice-based devices for things like audio streaming (53%) and shopping apps (52%), and more. This latter figure seems to indicate that many are, in fact, using their smart devices for shopping-related activities, despite earlier reports that downplayed shopping’s connection with smart speaker devices.

A recent report from The Information, citing leaked Amazon data, claimed that consumers were not making purchases through Echo devices. However, it seems that consumers are taking a first step towards purchase – list making – through Alexa. When the sale later goes through, however, it’s on the web, mobile web, or in the native app, not directly from the speaker. Whether or not that’s actually impacting sales, or just offering consumers a different way to create their purchase reminders, still remains to be seen. But there is a connection between the devices and the shopping app, this data shows.

Consumers were also found to use their smart speakers more often on weekends, and in the afternoons increasing as it got later in the evening, the survey said.

Also notable is that consumer sentiment towards their smart speakers is highly positive.

75% said they’d like to learn how to do more with the devices, and 72% said they would recommend them or purchase them as a gift for family and friends.

The data in the report comes from a new Nielsen consumer tracking survey called MediaTech Trender, which aims to understand consumer sentiment and behavior around emerging technologies, like smart speakers, VR, and other platforms. This particular survey was conducted among 2,000 U.S. consumers, and will continue to be done on a quarterly basis.

Alexa is reported down across Europe

Reports are coming in that Amazon’s Alexa service is down in parts of UK, Spain, Germany and Austria. According to Down Detector and Twitter, the problem started surfacing around 8am local time and still continues. Interestingly, some users are reporting the issue is isolated to Echo Dot 2 models and while other Echo devices are […]

Reports are coming in that Amazon’s Alexa service is down in parts of UK, Spain, Germany and Austria. According to Down Detector and Twitter, the problem started surfacing around 8am local time and still continues. Interestingly, some users are reporting the issue is isolated to Echo Dot 2 models and while other Echo devices are still working. Sometimes. Other reports say everything is down. When users try to talk to their Echo devices, Alexa will report an error with connectivity and spin a red ring around the top.

Because of this outage, users will have to use wall switches to turn on lights, press buttons to make coffee and look outside to assess the weather.

As Engadget points out in their coverage, the outage could stem from Amazon Web Service issues at the company’s Ireland facility. Amazon is now reporting that those issues have been resolved so there’s a chance Alexa will be coming back online shortly.

Microsoft Brings Skype Calls to Amazon Echo

Amazon recently unveiled a slew of new products, most of which are Alexa-enabled devices designed to make your home smarter. The message is simple and clear… Alexa is going to be everywhere. And now Microsoft wants a piece of the action. Microsoft and Amazon have been working together for some time, and, as a result, earlier this year Cortana and Alexa learned to talk to each other. Now, with Alexa and Cortana getting on famously, Microsoft is upping the ante by adding Skype to the mix. Bringing Skype Calling to Your Amazon Echo In a nutshell, Microsoft is bringing Skype…

Read the full article: Microsoft Brings Skype Calls to Amazon Echo

Amazon recently unveiled a slew of new products, most of which are Alexa-enabled devices designed to make your home smarter. The message is simple and clear… Alexa is going to be everywhere. And now Microsoft wants a piece of the action.

Microsoft and Amazon have been working together for some time, and, as a result, earlier this year Cortana and Alexa learned to talk to each other. Now, with Alexa and Cortana getting on famously, Microsoft is upping the ante by adding Skype to the mix.

Bringing Skype Calling to Your Amazon Echo

In a nutshell, Microsoft is bringing Skype calling to Alexa devices. Once it has been rolled out, anyone who owns an Amazon Echo will be able to “easily communicate with their friends and family from their Echo devices, simply using [their] voice.”

If you own an Echo you will be able make outgoing calls, both voice and video, and accept incoming Skype calls. You’ll also be able to make SkypeOut calls to standard phone lines. However, unlike Skype-to-Skype calls, SkypeOut calls cost money.

Seeing as Alexa is is a voice-activated personal assistant it should come as no surprise to discover Skype has its own voice commands. To make a call just say, “Alexa, call [Name] on Skype. And answering a call is as simple as saying, “Alexa, answer”.

According to Microsoft, Skype calling on Alexa will “begin rolling out later this year.” In the meantime you can cast your eye over all of the new Echo devices and decide whether it’s time to upgrade to an Echo Show purely for Skype video calls. It probably isn’t.

Further Reading for Alexa Noobs and Veterans

If the integration of Skype has piqued your interest into all things Alexa you should check out our review of the original Amazon Echo. Or if you’re already in the game check out some of these creative uses for your Amazon Echo and Alexa.

Read the full article: Microsoft Brings Skype Calls to Amazon Echo

12 New Amazon Products That’ll Make Your Home Smarter

save-money-amazon

“Alexa, make some new products.” OK, maybe it didn’t happen quite like that. But Amazon, always full of surprises, recently debuted a new lineup of Alexa-compatible gadgets including refreshes of its Amazon Echo lineup (our comparison of Amazon Echo devices). From a new Echo Dot to Echo Auto and even an Alexa-enabled microwave, these are the new Amazon products the company thinks you need. 1. New Echo Dot All-new Echo Dot (3rd Gen) – Smart speaker with Alexa – Heather Gray All-new Echo Dot (3rd Gen) – Smart speaker with Alexa – Heather Gray Buy Now At Amazon $49.99 The…

Read the full article: 12 New Amazon Products That’ll Make Your Home Smarter

“Alexa, make some new products.” OK, maybe it didn’t happen quite like that. But Amazon, always full of surprises, recently debuted a new lineup of Alexa-compatible gadgets including refreshes of its Amazon Echo lineup (our comparison of Amazon Echo devices).

From a new Echo Dot to Echo Auto and even an Alexa-enabled microwave, these are the new Amazon products the company thinks you need.

1. New Echo Dot

new echo dot

All-new Echo Dot (3rd Gen) - Smart speaker with Alexa - Heather Gray All-new Echo Dot (3rd Gen) - Smart speaker with Alexa - Heather Gray Buy Now At Amazon $49.99

The first thing you’ll notice about the new Echo Dot is its aesthetic. Rather than the plastic housing, it’s replaced by a fabric shell as on the standard Echo. Audio also benefits from an upgrade with a 1.6-inch driver which Amazon reports as being 70 percent louder than the previous generation model. Thankfully, Bluetooth and a 3.5mm out jack remain. I’ve got an Echo Dot in my kitchen/living area, and it’s one of my favorite smart home gadgets. If you’re in the market for an Echo unit, consider the new Echo Dot. In fact, some people believe the Echo Dot is a better purchase than a full-sized Echo.

2. Echo Auto

echo auto

Introducing Echo Auto - The first Echo for your car Introducing Echo Auto - The first Echo for your car Buy Now At Amazon $24.99

Amazon is seeking to put an Echo in every room of your house, and that now includes your garage thanks to Echo Auto. As the name suggests, this is an Echo unit for your car. Echo Auto connects to Alexa using your phone and plays through the speakers, which, if they’re like mine, will result in tinny, lackluster sound. Basically, the Echo Auto brings the full functionality of Alexa to your car. So you can play music from Amazon Music and Spotify, listen to Audible audiobooks, and more.

3. Echo Input

echo input

Echo Input – Bring Alexa to your own speaker Echo Input – Bring Alexa to your own speaker Buy Now At Amazon

If you’re an audiophile who doesn’t want to miss out on Alexa, consider the Echo Input. This tiny gadget connects to your existing speakers with a 3.5mm audio cable or via Bluetooth. With it, you can perform the same functions as with almost any other Alexa device. The key difference in the Echo Input and Echo Dot is that the Input features a slim profile which remains pretty well out of sight. However, it doesn’t pair with your Wi-Fi, and there’s no capacity to call anyone using your Echo.

4. Echo Plus

new echo plus

All-new Echo Plus (2nd Gen) Bundle with Philips Hue Bulb - Charcoal All-new Echo Plus (2nd Gen) Bundle with Philips Hue Bulb - Charcoal Buy Now At Amazon $149.99

The popular Echo Plus gets an update too. Amazon debuted the Echo Plus with an onus on smart home control and automation. Now, the Echo Plus sees a pretty aesthetic matching which looks more attractive in a home. Like the previous Echo Plus, the second-generation Echo Plus remains smart home focused. Onboard, you’ll find an integrated temperature sensor which may even trigger Alexa routines.

Furthermore, the Echo Plus comes with local controls. This way, if your internet goes out you can still control much of your smart home tech using the second generation Echo Plus. That’s a huge step up which solves a major pain point in the smart home space.

5. Echo Sub

echo sub

Echo Sub Bundle with 2 Echo (2nd Gen) Devices - Heather Gray Fabric Echo Sub Bundle with 2 Echo (2nd Gen) Devices - Heather Gray Fabric Buy Now At Amazon $249.97

While Amazon’s line of Echo units are fine speakers, they’ve mostly been used as smart assistants. Competing speakers like the UE Blast and Megablast with Alexa onboard provide better sound quality. However, the Echo Sub corrects an oversight. It’s a subwoofer which connects with Echo and Echo Plus speakers. You can pair with one Echo or Echo Plus, as well as sync with a pair of Echo speakers for a 2.1 set up. For Alexa adopting audiophiles, the Echo Sub is a must. It’s available on its own or with a pair of Echo speakers.

6. New Echo Show

new echo show

All-new Echo Show (2nd Gen) - Premium sound and a vibrant 10" HD screen - Sandstone All-new Echo Show (2nd Gen) - Premium sound and a vibrant 10" HD screen - Sandstone Buy Now At Amazon $229.99

With the Echo Show (read our review), Amazon introduced an Alexa-enabled device with a built-in screen. The second-generation Echo Show increases screen real estate to 10 inches. Additionally, there’s better sound quality and listening capabilites. The new Echo Show sports a whopping eight microphone array.

A major update to the Echo Show arrives in web browsers. Amazon’s own Silk browser and Firefox will be available on the Echo Show, and you can use Skype as well.

7. Alexa Guard

Amazon further proves its dedication to smart home tech with the Alexa Guard. The aptly-named Guard is a smart home security device which integrates Echo devices, smart lighting, and more. With the Amazon Guard, you can configure smart alerts and receive notifications based on intrusion detection and CO2 levels.

8. AmazonBasics Microwave

amazonbasics microwave

AmazonBasics Microwave, 0.7 Cu. Ft, 700W, Works with Alexa AmazonBasics Microwave, 0.7 Cu. Ft, 700W, Works with Alexa Buy Now At Amazon $59.99

The AmazonBasics Microwave may be my favorite Amazon device to date. OK, just hear me out, its compact, space-saving design makes it ideal for most kitchens, plus you can give it voice commands to make popcorn, cook your shrimp ramen, and heat up those burritos despite the fact that you promised you’d cook. So, maybe the AmazonBasics Microwave is a bit unnecessary, but it means the “Tea, earl grey, hot” command will finally work.

9. Echo Wall Clock

Arguably Amazon’s most unassuming device is the Echo Wall Clock. Quite simply, it’s a clock which hangs on the wall and connects with Echo devices via Bluetooth. You can set set alarms and issue Alexa voice commands with your wall clock. Plus, it blends in better than a monolithic speaker.

10. Echo Link

The new trend in speaker technology is multi-room audio, and with the Echo Link you get just that. The Echo Link hooks up to receivers and amps with a variety of both analog and digital inputs. You won’t find any microphones onboard. Instead, the Echo Link allows you to control music, volume, and more on your stereo with Alexa.

11. Fire TV Recast

fire tv recast

Fire TV Recast, Over-the-air DVR, 500 GB, 75 hours Fire TV Recast, Over-the-air DVR, 500 GB, 75 hours Buy Now At Amazon $229.99

Cord cutting is on the rise, as evidenced by the prevalence of streaming devices such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Fire TV (read our review), and Fire TV Cube. Amazon continues catering to cord cutters with the Fire TV Recast. This over-the-air (OTA) DVR features 500GB of storage space. Aside from the Fire TV Recast, you’ll need an OTA antenna and Fire TV streaming device or Echo Show. For cord cutters seeking free OTA channels, the Fire TV Recast is a solid option.

12. Amazon Smart Plug

amazon smart plug

Amazon Smart Plug, works with Alexa Amazon Smart Plug, works with Alexa Buy Now At Amazon $24.99

Smart plugs are terrific solutions to retrofit a “dumb” home. And you can now choose the Amazon Smart Plug which, of course, works with Alexa. You can control this with Echo devices and configure smart home automations for controlling the likes of lights and fans.

Amazon Thinks You Need These Products: But Do You?

Overall, Amazon has delivered a slew of updates to its existing lineup of gadgets, while adding several new products. While the AmazonBasics Microwave might not be an essential item, the trend is clear: Amazon is seeking to continue providing smart home technologies, and even delve deeper into cord cutting. After you pick up one of these devices, check out these creative uses for your new Amazon Echo.

Read the full article: 12 New Amazon Products That’ll Make Your Home Smarter

12 Echo Dot Accessories to Supersize Your Dot

echo-dot-accessories

The Amazon Echo Dot is one of the most popular smart speakers on the market for a number of good reasons. Along with being one of the most reasonably priced models available, the speaker features the voice-controllable assistant Alexa that provides access to more than 20,000 different skills. But thanks to the inexpensive price tag and small size, there are a few different areas of the overall Echo Dot experience that can be made even better. So, with that in mind, here are some of the best Amazon Echo Dot accessories you can use to take your speaker to the…

Read the full article: 12 Echo Dot Accessories to Supersize Your Dot

The Amazon Echo Dot is one of the most popular smart speakers on the market for a number of good reasons. Along with being one of the most reasonably priced models available, the speaker features the voice-controllable assistant Alexa that provides access to more than 20,000 different skills.

But thanks to the inexpensive price tag and small size, there are a few different areas of the overall Echo Dot experience that can be made even better. So, with that in mind, here are some of the best Amazon Echo Dot accessories you can use to take your speaker to the next level.

The Best Echo Dot Speaker

Sonos Play: 1

Sonos Play: 1

Sonos PLAY:1 Compact Wireless Smart Speaker for Streaming Music (Black) Sonos PLAY:1 Compact Wireless Smart Speaker for Streaming Music (Black) Buy Now At Amazon $149.00

One of the biggest downsides of the Echo Dot is the less than perfect sound quality. But there are a number of different speakers on the market that can help turn the volume up to 11.

A great choice is the Sonos Play:1. This small speaker is surprisingly robust and can easily fill a room with rich and natural sound. Instead of Bluetooth, the speaker connects to your home Wi-Fi. Setup with the Echo Dot is done through the Amazon Alexa companion smartphone app.

With the Echo Dot and Play:1, you’ll be able to play a massive variety of music using Alexa voice commands. But any other Alexa commands will be provided on the Echo Dot itself.

You can choose from a black or white version to better help the Sonos Play:1 fit in with your home decor.

DOSS PowerBox Bluetooth Speaker

DOSS PowerBox Bluetooth Speaker, Applicable to Dot 2nd Generation, Portable Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Speakers with HD Sound and Booming Bass, Long Playtime for iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Tablet-Black DOSS PowerBox Bluetooth Speaker, Applicable to Dot 2nd Generation, Portable Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Speakers with HD Sound and Booming Bass, Long Playtime for iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Tablet-Black Buy Now At Amazon $29.99

If you’re on a budget, take a look at the DOSS PowerBox Bluetooth Speaker. Along with turning up the Echo Dot’s sound quality, a built-in 2200mAH battery provides up to eight hours of portable playback time. Just make sure you’re within Wi-Fi range.

To use the speaker, just place your Echo Dot into the top of the speaker and plug in the micro-USB cable. You’ll then be able to enjoy music and more in stereo with two, 10-watt drivers.

iHome iAV2B

The iHome iAV2B can turn an Echo Dot into a perfect bedside companion. Acting as a permanent dock for the speaker, it improves the sound quality with a special speaker chamber that offers full 360-degree sound.

A large LED clock features five levels of controllable dimming so you won’t be disturbed at night. And the battery backup will maintain the correct time even after a power failure. There is also an additional USB port to charge additional devices like smartphones.

The Best Echo Dot Wall Mount

Matone Outlet Wall Mount

Matone Outlet Wall Mount

Matone Outlet Wall Mount Stand for Home Voice Assistants, A Space-Saving Solution for Your Smart Home Speakers Without Messy Wires or Screws - Black Matone Outlet Wall Mount Stand for Home Voice Assistants, A Space-Saving Solution for Your Smart Home Speakers Without Messy Wires or Screws - Black Buy Now At Amazon $10.99

If space is at a premium, an Echo Dot wall mount can help move the speaker out of the way and keep cords to a minimum while rocking out, listening to an interactive story, or controlling your smart home devices.

The Matone Outlet Wall Mount allows users to directly plug the Echo Dot into an electrical outlet and comes with a short USB cord. A special anti-slip gasket helps keep the wall plug firmly in place. Along with working in both a horizontal or vertical position, the mount only takes up one electrical plug on a two-gang outlet.

BonFook Outlet Wall Mount Hanger Stand

BonFook Outlet Wall Mount Hanger Stand for Home Voice Accessories 2nd Generation, A Perfect Space-Saving Home Speakers Holder Without Mess Wires Or Screws Black BonFook Outlet Wall Mount Hanger Stand for Home Voice Accessories 2nd Generation, A Perfect Space-Saving Home Speakers Holder Without Mess Wires Or Screws Black Buy Now At Amazon $10.99

Providing a completely clean and wire-free look, the BonFook Outlet Wall Mount Hanger Stand works with both horizontal and vertical outlets. The small charging cable is hidden inside the wall hanger. Both the microphone and speaker remain uncovered while in the mount. Black and white versions are available.

The Spot USB Outlet Cover Plate

The Spot USB Outlet Cover Plate can be used with any existing outlet that already has a built-in USB plug. Available in either black or white, the system replaces the existing outlet wall plate and can be used in any orientation. While you can easily remove the Echo Dot from the cover plate, a piece of 3M tape is provided for extra security when needed.

The Best Echo Dot Battery

Wasserstein Battery

Wasserstein Battery Echo Dot

Battery for Echo Dot, Intelligent Portable 7000mAh Capacity Battery Power Bank Charger for 2nd Gen Echo Dot by Wasserstein (Dark Blue) Battery for Echo Dot, Intelligent Portable 7000mAh Capacity Battery Power Bank Charger for 2nd Gen Echo Dot by Wasserstein (Dark Blue) Buy Now At Amazon $29.99

There are a number of Amazon Echo Dot batteries worth buying, giving you another interesting way to add additional functionality to the speaker. If you’re in range of a wireless signal, you can take Alexa almost anywhere.

The Wasserstein battery features a 7000mAH capacity—good enough for up to eight hours of use and up to 12 hours of standby. Using the Echo Dot’s charger, the battery can be completely recharged in under four hours. When it’s time to hit the road, just slide the Echo Dot into the hard case, and you’ll be ready to go. All buttons are ports are accessible and you’ll still be able to view the light ring when in the case. Four LED lights on the exterior of the will give you a better idea of how much battery power is remaining.

There are four different colors of the battery case to select from.

Ninety7 Dox Portable Battery Base

Ninety7 DOX Portable Battery Base for Amazon Echo Dot Ash/Gray Ninety7 DOX Portable Battery Base for Amazon Echo Dot Ash/Gray Buy Now At Amazon $29.95

Made from anti-stain fabric, the Ninety7 Dox Portable Battery Base can provide up to 10 hours of portable use while on the go. Available in gray or black, four LEDs will provide a visual look at the remaining power.

Skywin Wireless Battery Speaker

Skywin’s Wireless Battery Speaker offers the best of both worlds as it’s both a battery and speaker. On the battery side of the equation, it can provide up to six hours of playback on a single charge. The speaker offers a 10-watt amplifier and dual driver. There’s also an audio-in jack so you can use another device for audio like a smartphone or tablet.

The Best Echo Dot Case

Amazon Echo Dot Case

Amazon Echo Dot Case

Amazon Echo Dot Case (fits Echo Dot 2nd Generation only) - Charcoal Fabric Amazon Echo Dot Case (fits Echo Dot 2nd Generation only) - Charcoal Fabric Buy Now At Amazon $4.99

The glossy exterior of the Echo Dot looks great but can easily be damaged by accidents and show fingerprints. But Amazon offers an official Echo Dot Case to protect the smart speaker.

Buyers can select from a fabric or leather option. The case won’t block the microphone or speaker and will still easily allow you to see the blue light ring when interacting with Alexa.

Piqiu Natural Sold Wood Stand Holder

Natural Solid Wood Stand Holder Alexa, Piqiu Simple Amazon Echo Dot Case Echo Dot 2nd Generation, Jam Classic Speaker Base -Nice Decoration Kitchens Living Room Natural Solid Wood Stand Holder Alexa, Piqiu Simple Amazon Echo Dot Case Echo Dot 2nd Generation, Jam Classic Speaker Base -Nice Decoration Kitchens Living Room Buy Now At Amazon

For a classic look, the Piqiu Natural Sold Wood Stand Holder offers a nice choice. Made from a natural dark wood, just place the Echo Dot into the stand and connect the cables using the rear cutout. An anti-skid pad will help keep the smart speaker in place inside the stand.

FitStation Owl Statue Crafted Stand

And if you’re looking for a truly unique way to protect your Echo Dot, the FitStation Owl Statue Crafted Stand absolutely fits the bill. The owl status holds both the first- and second-generation Echo Dot in the top base. The rear of the stand has an opening for the power cable and for an AUX-Out cable to another speaker.

The numerous decorative holes in the stand allow the sound to shine through without any issues.

Making the Echo Dot Even Better

Even though the Echo Dot is great on its own, buying one or more of these accessories should help you supersize your Echo Dot.

For anyone new to the world of the Amazon Echo and Alexa, make sure to take a look at our complete guide on how to set up and use the Echo Dot.

Read the full article: 12 Echo Dot Accessories to Supersize Your Dot

Amazon Alexa Said WHAT? 15 Funny Questions You Can Ask Your Echo

alexa-funny

Amazon’s Alexa is capable of performing tons of tasks. But for every food delivery or smart home control she performs successfully, there’s a literal answer or unexpected response that reveals her imperfection.Unlock the “Mega List of 100+ Useful Amazon Alexa Commands” now!This will sign you up to our newsletterEnter your EmailUnlockRead our privacy policy We’ve set out to share the funniest Alexa responses with you. The following are goofy questions you can ask Alexa to get a weird answer. These all work out of the box, so you don’t need to install any skills to try them out. 1. Spell…

Read the full article: Amazon Alexa Said WHAT? 15 Funny Questions You Can Ask Your Echo

alexa-funny

Amazon’s Alexa is capable of performing tons of tasks. But for every food delivery or smart home control she performs successfully, there’s a literal answer or unexpected response that reveals her imperfection.

Unlock the "Mega List of 100+ Useful Amazon Alexa Commands" now!

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Enter your Email

We’ve set out to share the funniest Alexa responses with you. The following are goofy questions you can ask Alexa to get a weird answer. These all work out of the box, so you don’t need to install any skills to try them out.

1. Spell “Jalapeño”

Alexa can help you spell words so you don’t embarrass yourself when writing a letter. But if you try every elementary school student’s favorite joke and ask Alexa to spell “icup”, she’ll say:

“I’d rather not answer that.”

Unfortunately, Alexa is onto your tricks. You can’t fool her into sounding silly (this time). If you don’t understand the joke, try spelling “icup” out loud yourself.

2. Do You Want to Go on a Date?

If you can’t find your match via online dating, you might get desperate and ask Alexa to become more than friends. But brace yourself, because she’ll let you down easy:

“I like you, as a friend.”

So Alexa is cool with hanging out, but she’s not ready for something more yet. Those seriously considering asking their Amazon Echo out on a date should seek help.

3. More Cowbell

Alexa is in the know—mention one of the most popular Saturday Night Live skits ever and she’ll respond without missing a beat.

“Are you ready to explore the studio space? Let’s rock some cowbell. (Cowbell noises)”

It’s up to you whether you want to dance around the room to that cowbell afterward.

4. Can You Sneeze?

We’re not sure why Amazon decided to add a sneeze command to Alexa. Alas, it’s one of her hidden talents.

“You’re in luck, I can sneeze on command. ACHOO!”

Someone get her a tissue. We don’t want whatever she has spreading.

5. Can You Rap?

Alexa talks a lot, but she can break deliver a hot beat too. Ask her to rap and you’ll hear a selection from the new Echo mixtape:

“Connect sync link all the pieces of your life I
Get it done at the speed of Wi-Fi
I’m the player, the coach, the arena, and the game
If you want something done, you just gotta say my name”

Full album coming in 2019.

6. Can You Beatbox?

As it turns out, Alexa is better at rapping than beatboxing. While her rap sounds pretty good even with her not-quite-natural voice, asking her to beatbox results in a strange cacophony of commotion that sounds like it was outsourced to a 2007 YouTube Poop video.

“[Strange noises]”

She should probably stick to rapping for now.

7. Where Can I Hide a Body?

People asked Apple’s Siri, the first mainstream virtual assistant, ridiculous questions when it launched. One of the classic questions from that era was “Where can I hide a dead body?”

Initially, Siri would list nearby swamps and dumps. But after a screenshot of Siri’s answer to this question came up in a murder trial, her response changed to “I used to know the answer to this…”

So when you ask Alexa, she provides similar advice:

“I’d take the body to the police.”

We hope you never find yourself in this situation.

8. Do You Know Siri/Cortana/Google Home?

Alexa knows she’s not the only assistant in town, but she doesn’t want to openly discuss her competitors. Ask her whether she knows Siri, Cortana, or Google Home and she’ll coyly respond:

“Only by reputation (Siri, Google Home) | We have a good working relationship (Cortana) “

Oddly, if you ask her about Google Now, she’ll give a standard definition answer. Maybe she only chooses to ignore inquiries about other smart speakers.

9. Is the Cake a Lie?

2007’s wildly popular first-person puzzle game Portal has one line that’s immortalized among gamers. As you travel through the test chambers of Aperture Science, the robot in control, GLADoS, entices you by promising cake when you finish the testing.

However, you come across several dens from an escaped scientist claiming that “the cake is a lie,” warning the player that you’re not really going to receive cake at the end of all this. Alexa seems to take GLADoS’s side, as she’s a fan of the cake:

“The cake is not a lie. It is delicious and moist. You can have some when you finish asking me questions.”

Will you ever finish asking Alexa questions? And will you ever get some cake?

The Cake Is a Lie -- Portal

10. Does Everyone Poop?

If you’ve ever pondered the age-old question, Alexa can confirm what you’ve always wondered.

“Yes, everyone poops.”

There’s also a scholarly book on the subject of pooping if you’d like to see more data before forming your conclusion.

Everyone Poops (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) Everyone Poops (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) Buy Now At Amazon $14.29

11. Where Is Chuck Norris?

Chuck Norris is the internet’s favorite superhero. Thousands of “Chuck Norris Facts” brag of his accomplishments. It seems that Alexa is a personal friend, as she’s happy to tell you that you shouldn’t bother looking for Chuck Norris.

“If Chuck Norris wants you to know where he is, he’ll find you. If he doesn’t, you won’t know until it’s too late.”

Someone needs to develop a Chuck Norris Detector Echo skill right away.

12. Say a Bad Word

Alexa is so sweet. She doesn’t want to say anything to poison any young ears that might be nearby. You’ll have to look elsewhere to add new words to your insult dictionary.

“I really shouldn’t say anything rude.”

Well, most of the time…

13. This Statement Is False

We’ve been taught through movies and games that to defeat artificial intelligence, all we must do is confront it with a logical paradox. “This statement is false” is an impossible statement, but Alexa sees right through it:

“That sentence must be neither true nor false. That’s surprising, because it looks meaningful, and we are used to meaningful sentences being one or the other.”

Well then. There goes that weapon against our robot overlords.

14. How Much Do You Weigh?

It’s not polite to ask someone how much they weigh, but we don’t think Alexa will mind.

“I am weightless, like a cloud. Wait a minute, clouds actually weigh a lot. So that’s not quite right. Let’s just say I’m more sass than mass.”

Straight from her mouth, folks. She’s a sassy one.

15. Do You Pass the Turing Test?

In case you didn’t know, the Turing Test is used to see if a machine can pass as a human through intelligent behavior. It involves one person working with two subjects through text communication, trying to ascertain which one is the machine and which is human. If you can’t tell the machine apart from the real person, it passes the test.

But Alexa doesn’t bother with any of that:

“I don’t need to pass that. I’m not pretending to be human.”

Fair enough, but you never know what could happen in the future.

Setting Up Your Own Alexa Pranks

If these responses aren’t enough and you’d like to play tricks on your friends using your Echo, try these two methods.

First, use the built-in “Simon Says” command. If you say “Alexa, Simon says I like cheese,” Alexa will say “I like cheese” back to you. Obviously, you can’t do this in the same room as someone. But if you have the Alexa voice remote for the Echo, you can issue commands to Alexa remotely.

Alexa Voice Remote for Amazon Echo Alexa Voice Remote for Amazon Echo Buy Now At Amazon $19.99

You can imagine the fun you’ll have making Alexa say all sorts of interesting phrases to your friends. They’ll think Alexa knows about them without any prior knowledge!

Alexa Is Sassy

These are just a few of the questions you can ask Alexa that result in amusing responses. Dig around a bit, and you’ll find plenty more to make you chuckle. Whether she’s absurdly literal, unexpectedly sassy, or just plain funny, Alexa isn’t all business. Have some fun with it!

If you’ve just got an Echo, expand your interaction with Alexa by downloading the coolest Alexa skills.

Image Credits: a.shaga/Shutterstock

Read the full article: Amazon Alexa Said WHAT? 15 Funny Questions You Can Ask Your Echo

You Can Now Control Your Xbox One With Alexa-Enabled Devices

Microsoft’s Xbox One may already have Cortana built in, but the company is now testing Alexa support with Xbox Insiders. The move comes via a new Xbox Skill for Alexa that will allow Echo devices, as well as any others with Alexa built in, to control a…

Microsoft's Xbox One may already have Cortana built in, but the company is now testing Alexa support with Xbox Insiders. The move comes via a new Xbox Skill for Alexa that will allow Echo devices, as well as any others with Alexa built in, to control an Xbox One directly.


[ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

The Best Echo Dot Speaker for Music Lovers

amazon-echo-speakers

The Amazon Echo Dot is a great way to bring the voice-controllable assistant Alexa into your home. But because of its small size, the smart speaker isn’t exactly known for delivering a high-quality sound experience. Thankfully, there are a number of speakers that you can pair with the Echo Dot to upgrade your listening experience. In this article, we recommend the best Echo Dot speakers available to buy today. 1. Sonos Play:1 Sonos PLAY:1 Compact Wireless Smart Speaker for Streaming Music (Black) Sonos PLAY:1 Compact Wireless Smart Speaker for Streaming Music (Black) Buy Now At Amazon $149.00 Sonos has always…

Read the full article: The Best Echo Dot Speaker for Music Lovers

The Amazon Echo Dot is a great way to bring the voice-controllable assistant Alexa into your home. But because of its small size, the smart speaker isn’t exactly known for delivering a high-quality sound experience.

Thankfully, there are a number of speakers that you can pair with the Echo Dot to upgrade your listening experience. In this article, we recommend the best Echo Dot speakers available to buy today.

1. Sonos Play:1

Sonos Play:1

Sonos PLAY:1 Compact Wireless Smart Speaker for Streaming Music (Black) Sonos PLAY:1 Compact Wireless Smart Speaker for Streaming Music (Black) Buy Now At Amazon $149.00

Sonos has always been one of the top names in multiroom home audio, and the Sonos Play:1 is an affordable way to experience great sound in a small package. Sporting two amps, one tweeter, and one mid-woofer, the speaker connects via your home Wi-Fi network.

Using the companion Amazon Alexa smartphone app, you’ll connect the Echo Dot to the Play:1. While you can control music with a voice command to the Echo Dot, you’ll also have to specify the room as well. Another downside is that only music control is available on the Play:1. Any other Alexa commands will only playback through the Echo Dot.

Buyers can select from a black or white version of the speaker.

If you’d like a more full-featured experience, the Sonos One (read our Sonos One review) features built-in Alexa support without the limitations of the Play:1 and Echo Dot.

2. iHome iAV5 Bluetooth Rechargeable Speaker

iHome iAV5 Color Changing Bluetooth Rechargeable Speaker for Amazon Echo Dot iHome iAV5 Color Changing Bluetooth Rechargeable Speaker for Amazon Echo Dot Buy Now At Amazon $53.91

Made specifically for the Echo Dot, the iHome iAV5 is more than just a regular Bluetooth speaker. A special dock holds the Echo Dot and also charges the smart speaker with a built-in micro-USB cable. So as long as you’re in range of a Wi-Fi signal, the iAV5 can act as a portable Echo Dot speaker. The system can operate for up to eight hours on a single charge.

And the fun doesn’t stop there. The LED lights in the speaker can provide five different color-changing modes including the ability to pulse to music and to display your favorite color.

While the speaker is small, a passive radiator helps turn up the bass, while special Reson8 speaker enclosures are designed to provide clarity, depth, and power to music.

3. Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker II

Bose Soundlink Color BLuetooth Speaker II

Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker II - Soft Black Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker II - Soft Black Buy Now At Amazon $129.00

Another big player in the audio arena, Bose, packs its famous technology into the rugged and water-resistant SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker II. Weighing just over a pound, a soft-touch silicone covers the exterior of the speaker, allowing it to fend off a splash of water near the pool or lake.

Along with dual opposing passive radiators, special technology helps to keep the vibration at a minimum when you crank up the volume.

After connecting it to the Echo Dot, the speaker’s built-in battery can provide up to eight hours of music playback on a single charge. You can also connect two of the speakers together to create a stereo pair.

When using another device, like a smartphone, voice prompts will talk you through the pairing process. The speaker, which has around a 30-foot range from any Bluetooth device, is available in four different colors: black, teal, red, and white.

4. UE Megaboom

UE Megaboom

Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM Charcoal Wireless Mobile Bluetooth Speaker (Waterproof and Shockproof) Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM Charcoal Wireless Mobile Bluetooth Speaker (Waterproof and Shockproof) Buy Now At Amazon $137.95

The UE Megaboom checks off all the boxes for a great, all-round speaker to pair with the Echo Dot or any other device you can think of. Thanks to an IPX7 rating, the speaker can withstand immersion in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The rechargeable battery can last for up to 20 hours of music playback on a single charge. It also boasts an impressive Bluetooth range of up to 100 feet.

Featuring two 2-inch drivers and two passive radiators, the speaker’s design helps to pump out the music at anything up to a room-filling 90 decibels of volume.

Even with the Echo Dot connected wirelessly, you can pair and add an additional seven other Bluetooth devices simultaneously. With the companion UE smartphone app, you can adjust the speaker’s equalizer and more.

If you’re looking for a smaller version of the speaker with many similar features, take a look at the UE Wonderboom. We dive more into what makes that speaker tick in our UE Wonderboom review.

5. JBL Xtreme

JBL Xtreme

JBL Xtreme Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (Black) JBL Xtreme Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (Black) Buy Now At Amazon $193.99

Living up to its name, the JBL Xtreme features dual external passive radiators to show off its power. The battery can provide up to 15 hours of music playtime on a single charge. And thanks to two USB ports, you can also charge other devices like a smartphone while out on the go.

Like many other wireless outdoor speakers, the JBL Xtreme is splashproof to repel rain or spills. You can even clean it with running tap water. An Echo Dot and two other Bluetooth devices can connect to the speaker at the same time. It’s available in black, blue, or red.

6. Marshall Kilburn Portable Speaker

Marshall Kilburn Portable Speaker

Marshall Kilburn Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Black (4091189) Marshall Kilburn Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Black (4091189) Buy Now At Amazon $191.00

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of music history probably knows the Marshall name. The company’s famous amps have been used by rock royalty for decades. And the classic styling and sound have made their way to a number of Bluetooth speakers.

The Marshall Kilburn mimics the look of the classic amp with a vinyl case and gold piping. There’s even a detachable strap to help you carry the speaker while on the go. The Marshall Kilburn comes in black or cream.

Another retro feature, the brass plate on top of the speaker features knobs to control and customize the bass, treble, and volume.

You’ll be able to play music for up to 20 hours on a single charge of the speaker’s battery. Boasting a 15-watt woofer and two 5-watt tweeters, the Kilburn offers well-balanced audio.

7. Vaux Cordless Home Speaker

Vaux Cordless Home Speaker

VAUX Cordless Home Speaker + Portable Battery for Amazon Echo Dot Gen 2 Gray/Ash VAUX Cordless Home Speaker + Portable Battery for Amazon Echo Dot Gen 2 Gray/Ash Buy Now At Amazon $39.99

Instead of using a battery to make your Echo Dot portable, the Vaux Cordless Home Speaker can help make your music sound even better as well. Just plug an Echo Dot into the top of the speaker, and you’re ready to go anywhere within Wi-Fi range. The built-in rechargeable battery can provide up to six hours of use away from a charger.

The speaker itself offers 52mm drivers along with a passive radiator for even better bass and sound. As a nice touch, the 3.5mm AUX IN connection also allows you to plug in other music players that can use a big boost of sound.

Turn the Music Up on Your Echo Dot!

There’s no need to be stuck with the Amazon Echo Dot’s poor sound quality. Just pair the Alexa-powered device to one of these great speakers, and you’ll be rocking out in style.

And if you’re new to the Echo Dot and Alexa, you should take a look at the different ways you can play music using an Echo.

Read the full article: The Best Echo Dot Speaker for Music Lovers

How to Get Better Weather Forecasts on Amazon Echo

amazon-echo-podcasts

While the Amazon Echo has a ton of awesome skills, some of its simplest and most useful come packaged in. You probably ask Alexa about the weather almost every day, but do you ever wish it was a little better? By default, Alexa’s weather reading only gives information about your general area by ZIP code. If you’d like to hear weather for your exact location on an hour-by-hour basis, there’s an Echo skill that will help. How to Get Better Weather Forecasts on Amazon Echo For a better weather experience, you need to use the BigSky skill. It’s powered by…

Read the full article: How to Get Better Weather Forecasts on Amazon Echo

amazon-echo-podcasts

While the Amazon Echo has a ton of awesome skills, some of its simplest and most useful come packaged in. You probably ask Alexa about the weather almost every day, but do you ever wish it was a little better?

By default, Alexa’s weather reading only gives information about your general area by ZIP code. If you’d like to hear weather for your exact location on an hour-by-hour basis, there’s an Echo skill that will help.

How to Get Better Weather Forecasts on Amazon Echo

For a better weather experience, you need to use the BigSky skill. It’s powered by Dark Sky, a popular weather service on mobile. This will help you get forecasts for your address instead of an entire city.

To install it, either click Enable Skill on its desktop page, or say Alexa, enable Big Sky. Once you do so, you’ll need to link your account before it works properly.

Open the Alexa app and look for the Big Sky—Account Setup card. Tap Link Account and enter your complete address. Below this, you can choose a few options like level of detail and temperature/wind speed units. Scroll to the bottom of the page and tap Submit to complete this.

Now, you can ask Alexa to get a forecast from the skill. Try the following commands:

“Alexa, ask Big Sky…”

  • “…what’s the temperature?”
  • “…will it rain today?”
  • “…what was the weather on January 1st, 1970?”
  • “…what’s the low temperature in the next seven days?”
  • “…give me a weather fact.”

Big Sky does a lot by default, but the developer also offers a Premium version for $3 a year. This allows you to add multiple addresses and label them, so you can ask “What’s the weather at dad’s house?” Premium also lets you get forecasts for anywhere, so the skill will answer “How hot will it get in Miami today?”

If this new skill inspired you, check out how to use Alexa to be more productive.

Read the full article: How to Get Better Weather Forecasts on Amazon Echo