Alexa, Are You There?


The Amazon Echo is a household Siri on steroids. Called “Alexa,” the Echo is a black metal cylinder that, at first glance, looks just like a speaker. If you get the Echo Dot, it’s a slice of the cylinder. But when you call her name, you can make an ever growing list of commands; however, it still leaves much to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, I love virtual assistants, but Alexa can’t do much more than play music, look up the weather, and add items to your Amazon cart. (Austen is, however, especially interested in its pizza delivery service). 

Nevertheless, the Echo is a big step forward in home automation for the masses. Besides the ever growing list of commands and apps it has, it integrates with much available household tech, like Insteon’s smart lights and outlets. Everything from setting timers to cracking jokes to playing music from the Prime library is well within the Echo’s capabilities, but expanding third party support is most promising. It can play from Spotify or Pandora, and it sounds alright, housing a woofer and tweeter. I, however, would not buy it for its speaker. Beyond music streaming, the Echo’s capabilities are expected to keep growing. Over 100 features and apps have been added since the Echo’s initial launch; you can even get an Uber. If you’re looking for a showy piece of tech to save yourself mere seconds a day, get an Echo. Otherwise, I’d hold out for more info on Viv.

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