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Thread: What’s the point of an Amazon Echo?

  1. #1

    What’s the point of an Amazon Echo?

    Just been bought an Amazon Echo Plus for Christmas. Love the idea of a smart home but have no idea where to start/if it’s worth it/if it’s going to cost me loads.

    What do you use yours for? Is it easy to set stuff up? Has it cost a bomb? Is it reliable?

    Any advice would be brilliant.


    Sent from my iPhone using TZ-UK mobile app

  2. #2
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    Amazon's use for it is to tie you into their ecosystem and sell you stuff. Just like all their other electronic devices. But if you have interconnected systems you can do things like turn your lights on and off, set the heating temperature, set reminders, play music, play stuff on your telly, ask questions.

    Edit: I've got the Google Home coming for Christmas for myself. But I've already got Nest thermostat, Phillips Hue lights, Logitech remotes as well as Chromecast set up in the house. Probably about a grand all in for my set up.
    Last edited by Bonesey; 22nd December 2017 at 06:19.

  3. #3
    Its basically a speaker which has a deep field microphone built in which is activated when you say "Alexa"
    You can change the word to a few other pre set ones but can't remember what they are.
    In it's basic form you ask it questions like , what's the weather like tomorrow, what's on at the local cinema etc etc. You can also apply skills to its memory which connect and allow intergration with other devices. So I have mine paired with my Sonos system, pairing is quite simple assuming you have an amazon account and you can remember your Sonos account info. To play music you just say "Alexa play xmas music in the Lounge" of course it relies on you naming the Sonos devices correctly.
    In a nutshell you enable the skill in settings and it takes you through the set up process,its really quite simply even for a numpty like me.
    Eventually there's going to be loads of applications.
    You also have the drop in feature which allows you to voice call people in your contacts free of charge.
    Shouldnt cost you anything assuming you don't have lists of shopping set up with amazon and you order them without knowing
    Last edited by Franky Four Fingers; 22nd December 2017 at 07:55.

  4. #4
    Alexa is about to go nuts, I have seen several products that will be on the market next year all integrating with it.

    The two technologies that are going to be huge are Alexa and Lora

  5. #5
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    FFF good explanation, I have mine linked to my Spotify account.
    MrsW loves it!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by barryw View Post
    FFF good explanation, I have mine linked to my Spotify account.
    MrsW loves it!
    My missus didn't see the point of it but uses it more than me now. My youngest son also likes the fart skill....yes the fart skill which will come in handy when the MIL comes round Boxing Day

  7. #7
    I use mine to:

    Turn on lights via Hue
    Control Sonos
    Control TV via Logitech Harmony
    Get weather forecasts

  8. #8
    Master mr noble's Avatar
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    How does the fart skill work? That sounds like fun for the kids at Christmas.

  9. #9
    Sounds like a faff to operate the TV. Far quicker to just use the remote.

  10. #10
    Grand Master 100thmonkey's Avatar
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    I always think they are for people with no one to talk to, brilliant for an elderly person or in a modern house they are brilliant at reducing the need to move and ultimately put us one step closer to extinction
    "When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
    For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"

  11. #11
    Master senwar's Avatar
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    I got rid of both of mine.

    Don't like the always on, and concerned me re: DP etc.

    I used them for spotify and controlling Hue lights.

  12. #12
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    Always on, always listening, targeted marketing 'home-invasion', who else has access to your private moments?

    Not for me.

  13. #13
    Grand Master snowman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nunya View Post
    Always on, always listening, targeted marketing 'home-invasion', who else has access to your private moments?

    Not for me.
    Me neither.

    Pay for the privilege to buy more stuff from Amazon...

    Amazingly I can change the channel on my TV, turn lights on and off and search the internet without this technology.

    I suppose that makes me a technology God :D

    M

    Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk
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  14. #14
    Remember before remotes, had to get up to change channels.
    Preferable to my wife surfing during the adverts and perpetually tweaking the volume.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by mr noble View Post
    How does the fart skill work? That sounds like fun for the kids at Christmas.
    enable the fart skill and then say “Alexa play me a fart....and then blame granny

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by nunya View Post
    Always on, always listening, targeted marketing 'home-invasion', who else has access to your private moments?

    Not for me.
    Not true, always on listening for the wake word, when it hears that it records. It’s well documented

  17. #17
    Multitude of uses in our house.

    We have an Echo in the living room that plays all our music via Spotify, it controls all of our lighting with Hue, our heating with Nest and AV kit with Logitech Hub.

    We have Echo Dots in the bedrooms, as alarm clocks, to check the weather or to see what my commute is like.

    Initial cost is low, but with all the smart adding it can, well, add up!

    Wouldn’t be without ours.

  18. #18
    Grand Master seikopath's Avatar
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    What’s the point of an Amazon Echo?

    Its primary function is the gathering of data about you
    Good luck everybody. Have a good one.

  19. #19
    Master senwar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Franky Four Fingers View Post
    Not true, always on listening for the wake word, when it hears that it records. It’s well documented
    Not in my experience

    It has come on many times without the word Alexa being said. I even tried to work out what was triggering it but no joy. And to be honest, even if it was listening for the wake word - its still listening.

    I did enjoy the South Park episode when they kept saying things for Alexa to do and it triggered viewers units as well (happened with mine during one scene)

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by 100thmonkey View Post
    I always think they are for people with no one to talk to, brilliant for an elderly person or in a modern house they are brilliant at reducing the need to move and ultimately put us one step closer to extinction
    https://youtu.be/YvT_gqs5ETk

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by senwar View Post
    Not in my experience

    It has come on many times without the word Alexa being said. I even tried to work out what was triggering it but no joy. And to be honest, even if it was listening for the wake word - its still listening.

    I did enjoy the South Park episode when they kept saying things for Alexa to do and it triggered viewers units as well (happened with mine during one scene)
    Its never noticed it coming on...starnge.

    If anyone's worried that big brothers listening to them you can always turn off the mic......but what's the point?

  22. #22
    Grand Master seikopath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Franky Four Fingers View Post
    Its never noticed it coming on...starnge.

    If anyone's worried that big brothers listening to them you can always turn off the mic......but what's the point?
    What will turning off the mic do?
    Eg even if you turn off your smartphone it is still able to record and transmit data
    The cat is out the bag
    Everyone is a addicted to these devices and increasingly we are being encouraged to have smart this and smart that, smart homes bla bla bla
    They aren't primarily designed for your benefit, that's for sure
    It's all about gathering the data and control of the data and you are the target
    How your data will be used in the future is yet to be seen. In pretty sure it isn't just for commercial purposes. But in any case it isn't being done casually or for any idle purpose
    Last edited by seikopath; 22nd December 2017 at 13:11.
    Good luck everybody. Have a good one.

  23. #23
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    Funny thing I’ve noticed after linking my Spotify account to the dot my wife can listen to my Spotify personal playlist while I’m out say at work.
    How does that work?

  24. #24
    Master James_'s Avatar
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    Use it to order tin foil.

  25. #25
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    I won one in our company prize draw last week, the voice recognition is impressive, but I don't really find the functions very useful. If I want to know the weather I can check on my phone, I have proper hi-fis to play music and I don't like the implications of having an electronic device in the house that could record anything I say. So mine will be going back in the box.

  26. #26
    Grand Master seikopath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James_ View Post
    Use it to order tin foil.
    Or a large bucket of sand to stick your head in.
    Thats the beauty of choice
    Good luck everybody. Have a good one.

  27. #27
    I quite fancied the idea (notwithstanding security issues) then realised the last time I said ‘hey Siri’ to my iPhone was within the first week I got it - I just wouldn’t use it


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  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by seikopath View Post
    What will turning off the mic do?
    Eg even if you turn off your smartphone it is still able to record and transmit data
    The cat is out the bag
    Everyone is a addicted to these devices and increasingly we are being encouraged to have smart this and smart that, smart homes bla bla bla
    They aren't primarily designed for your benefit, that's for sure
    It's all about gathering the data and control of the data and you are the target
    How your data will be used in the future is yet to be seen. In pretty sure it isn't just for commercial purposes. But in any case it isn't being done casually or for any idle purpose
    It turns the mic off and no longer records, it won't activate when you say Alexa.

    Since I've owned it I've constinently ordered 5 bags of fertiliser a week and as yet the boys in blue haven't come knocking.

  29. #29
    Master markc's Avatar
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    Saved my bacon the other week when my Harmony Ultimate remote finally succumbed to being thrown on the floor one too many times by my son.

    The ability to say "Alexa, turn on the television" and have it switch on TV, Amp, Sky box and set everything to the right input/output enabled us to manage with just the Sky remote until the Ultimate was on sale again at Amazon.

    Note: Other commands are available: turn on/off pretty much any entertainment device, change channel, change volume, select favourite channel, etc.

    Also note: my son found it exceedingly amusing to play some of the build in games (like "would you rather").

    Pretty good if you have amazon prime as there is access to millions of tunes.

    Not bad for asking general questions too - "Alexa, what is the weather going to be tomorrow?"

    Obviously I've disabled the ability to purchase things from Amazon (I have a 6 year old boy - "Alexa, buy me another XBox")

    Cheers,

    Mark C

  30. #30
    Thanks for all the replies. Has anyone else gone for the Google? How have you decided which to go for? Google feels slightly less “stuck” to one website than the Alexa to me.
    I know of the “listening” issues. I have to decide if that concerns me.
    Any more thoughts or advice would be appreciated.
    What about door locks? Has anyone committed to smart locks? If so how does that work?


    Sent from my iPhone using TZ-UK mobile app

  31. #31
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    Disable the voice order facility straight away!
    I use my Amazon ‘dot’ mainly to play music via my hifi and love how easy it is to play the latest album from whoever I want, also tuning up/down the volume whilst seated at the dinner table is convenient too.
    Also asking for the weather report while making a cup of tea in the morning.


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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by tobywatches View Post
    Thanks for all the replies. Has anyone else gone for the Google? How have you decided which to go for? Google feels slightly less “stuck” to one website than the Alexa to me.
    I know of the “listening” issues. I have to decide if that concerns me.
    Any more thoughts or advice would be appreciated.
    What about door locks? Has anyone committed to smart locks? If so how does that work?


    Sent from my iPhone using TZ-UK mobile app
    Yes I've got the Google Home full size coming for Christmas and the mini on the way as well. Mini will go in the garage I reckon. Really looking forward to integrating it will all my kit. I wouldn't touch Amazon with a barge pole.

  33. #33
    Grand Master VDG's Avatar
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    Fas est ab hoste doceri

  34. #34
    Grand Master snowman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonesey View Post
    I wouldn't touch Amazon with a barge pole.
    Is that a technology issue or some kind of peculiar bias?

    M.

  35. #35
    Master andyjay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonesey View Post
    Yes I've got the Google Home full size coming for Christmas and the mini on the way as well. Mini will go in the garage I reckon. Really looking forward to integrating it will all my kit. I wouldn't touch Amazon with a barge pole.
    We went down the Google route, it was a cheap way to integrate music with existing kit by using Chromecast audios and now with a Google home and a mini, the family has music and radio with out having to buy anything extra. A subscription to Google music was needed, but as we used to buy one or two CD’s a month this is easily covered and with the family subscription my son (10) is able to have his own ‘collection’ without any further outlay.

  36. #36
    Master Filterlab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 100thmonkey View Post
    ...ultimately put us one step closer to extinction
    Indeed. All we need now is robots to remove humans that society feels are a problem and we’re done for.

    Oh, wait...

    http://uk.businessinsider.com/securi...ncisco-2017-12

  37. #37
    Master senwar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Franky Four Fingers View Post
    Its never noticed it coming on...starnge.

    If anyone's worried that big brothers listening to them you can always turn off the mic......but what's the point?
    Which defeats the object of the echo.

    And it did/does concern me - even more since I’ve been involved in GDPR prep/compliance. Scary what’s out there and what is done with it.

    The ironic thing is though I’m typing this on my iPhone which will know way more about me than I care for it to.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowman View Post
    Is that a technology issue or some kind of peculiar bias?

    M.
    All of the Amazon gadgets in the past have been compromised in order to tie you into the Amazon ecosystem in such a cynical way. You only have to look at the phones and tablets to see this. Tied into their own app store, no Google services btw, and Amazon shopping system as default. I think even the average Joe consumer could see this which is why they never took off and got crappy reviews.

    I think what irks me more about Amazon is that there's no hiding their corporate greed. It's just a cynical cash grab. Whilst I know that Google and Amazon are there to make money, at least I've always felt that I have options. One of the reasons why I never bought another iPhone after the 3g was how trapped in was in my options and flexibility.

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Bonesey View Post
    All of the Amazon gadgets in the past have been compromised in order to tie you into the Amazon ecosystem in such a cynical way. You only have to look at the phones and tablets to see this. Tied into their own app store, no Google services btw, and Amazon shopping system as default. I think even the average Joe consumer could see this which is why they never took off and got crappy reviews.

    I think what irks me more about Amazon is that there's no hiding their corporate greed. It's just a cynical cash grab. Whilst I know that Google and Amazon are there to make money, at least I've always felt that I have options. One of the reasons why I never bought another iPhone after the 3g was how trapped in was in my options and flexibility.
    Its called an Amazon Echo.

  40. #40
    Craftsman Robti's Avatar
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    I was eagerly looking forward to getting apples HomePod but I have no need for all the built in speakers as I have my hifi for that, I only wanted it for smart control in my house so will wait and see, can I ask if you cancel your amazon prime do you lose anything from the echo/dot ?

  41. #41
    Grand Master oldoakknives's Avatar
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    Alexa tell Amazon what to sell me next please.

  42. #42
    Shock horror, an amazon product sells Amazon stuff. Someone inform the competition commission.

  43. #43
    Craftsman Loki's Avatar
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    Our 11 year old has got one for Christmas, hope he likes it but can see it being a bit of a fad.

  44. #44
    Master Tifa's Avatar
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    I've got a good idea.

    Why don't I put a microphone in my living room, connect it to the internet, and give global access to anyone persistent enough to listen in?

    M'kay

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Tifa View Post
    I've got a good idea.

    Why don't I put a microphone in my living room, connect it to the internet, and give global access to anyone persistent enough to listen in?

    M'kay
    Do you have a mobile phone, laptop, iPad or tablet?

  46. #46
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    Is the Sonos integration only for services like Amazon Music; Apple Music etc? Presume you can't use it with your own library?

    Thinking of getting one, but the main use would be to select music - at least that's what I would buy it for...
    Last edited by bambam; 23rd December 2017 at 19:44. Reason: Spelling!

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by bambam View Post
    Is the Sonos integration only for services like Amazon Music; Apple Music etc? Presume you can't use it with your own library?

    Thinking of getting one, but the main use would be to select music - at least that's what I would buy it for...
    You can pair your mobile phone via Bluetooth and play all your music through it.
    you can control the volume tracks etc then with Alexa.

  48. #48
    Craftsman
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    Use mine to,
    Control, some lamps(on, off, dim) play music through my surround sound. Turn my heating on, off, up, down.
    Use it like Google search (ask Alexa anything and she searches net and tells you answer)
    Our lass uses it as a timer when cooking and as a notebook reminder.
    Love it me, but then I'm into my gadgets

    Sent from my [device_name] using TZ-UK mobile app

  49. #49
    Grand Master seikopath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tifa View Post
    I've got a good idea.

    Why don't I put a microphone in my living room, connect it to the internet, and give global access to anyone persistent enough to listen in?

    M'kay
    Becuase that would be free, whereas an echo costs about 80 quid
    Good luck everybody. Have a good one.

  50. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by bambam View Post
    Is the Sonos integration only for services like Amazon Music; Apple Music etc? Presume you can't use it with your own library?

    Thinking of getting one, but the main use would be to select music - at least that's what I would buy it for...
    Sonos integration is for Amazon Music and Spotify only. It will not work with your own music library. You can ask to play music on a particular Sonos:

    Alexa, play heavy metal on Living Room

    It will then play from the default music service selected in the Alexa app. You cannot create a group of rooms using Alexa. If you use the Sonos app to start music, you can then control it using the Echo.

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