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Echo/Alexa OT

Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,694
What is Alexa?

Alexa is a voice assistant that can be accessed on many device and apps, the most popular of which is Amazon's Echo line. Alexa can get music, books, audiobooks, weather, timers, lists, news, calendars, sports updates, facts, calls friends, phone numbers control lights, smart locks, tvs, plugs, buy stuff, and tell jokes (oh God the jokes) via your voice. Tens of thousands of skills to do all sorts of others things like call ride share services, order pizza, or play audio games. Alexa gets new features constantly (something new almost weekly).

Echo Lineup

Unless noted all Echo products have far-field microphone technology (4-8 microphones), a speaker, 802.11n wifi, 3.5mm audio out, and bluetooth support for audio in/out, playback control and accessories.

Echo (3nd Gen)



The third-gen Echo is basically a recycled Echo Plus minus the zigbee hub and tempurature sensor. Improved sound over 2nd gen.

MSRP $100

Echo Dot (3rd gen) with Clock



The Echo Dot now has an LCD display for telling time, tempurature and timers. Non-clock version still avaialble for $10 less.

MSRP $60 ($50 without clock)

Echo Plus (2nd gen - 2018)


Improved sound over both the 2nd gen Echo and the 1st gen Echo Plus. Comes with a built in ZigBee support which allows you to use many types of smart-home devices without an additional hub. Also adds a temperature sensor for triggering actions, e.g. turn on a connected fan when the temperature gets high. Also supports “local voice” ability that lets you perform certain things like switching lights via the hub functionality even if the internet is down. The Echo Plus also supports audio in via 3.5mm jack.

MSRP $150

Echo Spot (2018)



Part Echo Show, part Echo Dot, much more stylish than either. Sports a rounded screen that can play videos, camera feeds, or just visually show information as well as a camera for calling.

MSRP $130

Echo Show 10" (2018), 8" and 5"



The show line comes in a variety of screen sizes. Can access Amazon Prime Videos, Youtube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Hulu and Amazon'stored pictures as well as most of the top brands of security cameras. No 3.5mm audio out.

The 10" comes with a Zigbee hub, the 8" and 5" have physical camera shutters. Echo Show 8 and 10 have the best audio in the lineup excluding the Studio.

MSRP $230 (10"), $120 (8"), $90 (5")


Echo Studio



Highest quality audio of any Echo Device. Calibrates itself to the room and is capable of outputing 3D audio (Amazon Music HD). Can be paired with Fire TV to produce a Dolby Atmos setup.

MSRP $200


Echo Flex



The cheapest full Echo with a lower quality speaker. Can simply be plugged in to an outlet. Also has a USB port for use as a charger or for plugging add-on like a motion sensor or night-light.

MSRP $25


Echo Input (2018)


It brings the microphone you bring you own speaker, connects over Bluetooth or 3.5mm out.

MSRP $35

Echo Auto

An Echo device that mounts to a car dashboard and comes with a cigarette lighter adapter. Uses your car’s audio (BT or aux) and your phone’s cellular connection to enable Alexa services. Can give directions or offload to you favorite navigation app (Google Maps, Waze etc).

MSRP $50

Echo Buds


True wireless earbuds with Bose noise reduction. 5 hours of play with an additonal 15 from the carrying case. Has access to hands-free Alexa via voice, or long-press to get you phone's native assistant.

MSRP $130

Echo Frames (invitation only)


Glasses that shoot Alexa into your ears and offer hands free communication. Can get prescription lenses. Audio quality is not really for music, no iOS support.

MSRP $180

Echo Loop (invitation only)


Talk to Alexa like a secret spy! Has a tiny speaker you need to put up to you ear and a microphone you can talk to with the push of a button. Has haptics to incoming messages. Get about a day of battery with "typical" use.

MSRP $130

Accessories

Unless noted Echo Accessories do not contain microphones themselves.

Echo Sub


Wireless subwoofer designed to work with existing Echo devices to give them more bass. It can be set up in 1.1 or 2.1 configurations.

MSRP $130

Echo Link

A Preamp designed to integrate your existing high-quality audio system and add Alexa playback. Has coax, RCA, and optical inputs/outputs.

MSRP $200

Echo Link Amp

A 60 Watt 2-channel Amp that connects directly to Alexa services. Has coax, RCA, and optical inputs/outputs.

MSRP $300

Echo Wall Clock


An analog wall clock that visibly shows your Alexa timers with LEDs and can automatically change for Daylight savings time. Doesn’t contain any audio functionality of it’s own, connects to an Echo over bluetooth.

MSRP $30

Others

Anyone can build an Alexa compatible device. Whether it be a Raspberry Pi DIY project or hardware partners like Trilby and Ecobee, lamps, cars, refrigerators etc. Alexa is also supported on Amazon tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Tap (portable bluetooth speaker), Amazon Dash Wand, Amazon Cloud Cam and third party apps on iOS and Android. Not all devices support all features.

Integrations:

Alexa can interface with a number of things without the need for specific skill invocation words. These include:

- Music services such as: Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, Sirius XM, Deezer, Tidal
- TV Devices such as: DISH Hopper, Sony Bravia TVs, Fire TV
- TV Services like: Neflix, Hulu, Showtime, PlayStation Vue, CBS, NBC, Bravo, CNBC etc.
- Camera Devices such as: Ring, Nest, Amazon Cloud Cam (audio-only devices can get audio streams)
- Smart lights, plugs and other on/off devices such as: Hue, Lifx, Wemo, Smartthings
- Thermostats such as: Nest, Ecobee, Honeywell
- Smart locks such as: August, Yale
- Speakers: Sonos
- Sensors: SmartThings
- Smart Doorbells: Ring

These all use a common interface so you can even mix and match product brands. The Alexa app also allows you to arrange devices into groups so you can target several devices at the same time. You can also add an Echo to that group to make it context aware. So if you add a group called "kitchen" with 2 lights and an Echo, if you tell that Echo "turn on lights" it will turn on just those 2 lights.

Skills:

Skills are the primary way Amazon enhances Alexa's functionality. Anyone can build skills and Amazon offers some free AWS Lambda hosting for mild traffic. Skills can create Flash Briefing items, use certain bluetooth accessories, display video and send notifications. Top skill authors will receive some payment or they can have subscriptions (these are free to Amazon Prime members) but may not contain ads. Skills are invoked with a phrase such as:

Alexa, ask Lyft for a ride
Alexa, tell Starbucks to check my balance
Alexa, ask Fitbit how I'm doing today

However, Alexa is able to use skills even without a specific invocation if it knows one is able to handle your request. As of writing there are over 100,000 skills available.

Other Features

  • Echo Spacial Perception (ESP) - Echo devices can determine which one you are likely talking to so as not to duplicate requests.
  • Whisper Mode - Alexa can talk back to you at low volume if you whisper
  • Alexa Gaurd - Alexa can be used as a make-shift security system. You can arm it by saying "Alexa, I'm leaving." It will be put into a listening mode and can detect smoke or CO2 alarms as well as broken glass, or common people noises like talking, water, or footsteps and send you a message if something happens. Also can simulate typical smart light patterns as if you were home.
  • Alexa Hunches - Alexa can use machine learning to understand more about your routines. Alexa can give you reminders such as turning off a light that you normally turn off around bed time, creating routines from common invocations, or alerting you when devices might need a new battery
  • Local Voice - Certain Alexa devices with built-in hubs can continue to do common tasks like turning on and off lights when the internet is not working.
  • Your Voice - Alexa can determine who is speaking and do things based on that user's preferences.
  • Stereo Mode - Alexa devices can be arranged in stereo configuration
  • Alexa Routines - Alexa lets you create macros that do several actions with a single command. For example you could say "Alexa, Good Morning" and have the lights turn on and have Alexa read you the news. These can respond to specific invocation words or be triggered based on sensors like temperature, contact, motion etc.
  • Alexa Calling - Alexa has several methods to communicate including Alexa's built-in calling function (with video if supported), sending messages, SMS, phone calling and Skype
  • Frustration Mode - Alexa can tell when you are upset and apologize.
  • Audio Settings - Control audio mix settings, speaking rate

Languages
  • English (US,UK,IN,NZ,AU)
  • Spanish (US,ES,MX)
  • French (CA,FR)
  • German (DE)
  • Italian (IT)
  • Japanese (JA)
  • Hindi (IN)
  • Portugese (BR)

Bilingual support for en-US/es-MX, en-CA/fr-CA, en-IN/hi-IN coming soon.

FAQ

Doesn't my phone do this?


It has some of the functionality but the real killer is that Echo's far-field microphones can pick you up across the room which greatly increases the usability as well as Amazon's massive ecosystem.

Are there ads?

As per Amazon's developer agreement skills will be rejected if they have advertising content. Skills can suggest deals and such as long as it's directly related to it's function (e.g. Starbucks skill could let you know of a BOGO deal). Music services may still contain ads as they normally would.

What's the privacy situation?

Echo is always listening for the wake word but anything it hears in it's short buffer will not be sent to the server unless it's reasonably sure you said the wake word. If so, it undergoes secondary verification and if it passes, the audio is processed by Amazon's servers. In the case of a third party skill, the invocation text will be sent to their web server to process. Amazon will retain records of your voice to help improve the recognition and these may be listened to by actual people (you can manually opt-out). You will need to manually remove these if you don't want them there or opt-in to auto-deletion in periods of 3 or 18 months. If you do not wish for the Echo to listen in or see you on camera, you can press the mute button. This physically breaks a circuit and thus cannot be overridden by software. Newer Echoes with cameras also have physical shutters. You may remotely enable Echoes using the drop-in feature which functions like an intercom, but do not enable this for anyone but very close friends or family (see link in calling section for an overview of the privacy implications).

How does calling work?

Calling is done to other Echoes or the Alexa app. There are several types:

Calling phones: e.g. "Alexa call, [person]'s mobile" / "Alexa dial 555-123-4567"

Alexa audio/video calls: e.g. "Alexa call, [person/device]"

Drop-in (two way intercom functionality, explicit pickup not required): e.g "Alexa drop-in on [person/device]"

Messaging: e.g. "Alexa message [person]"

Broadcast (one-way intercom): e.g. "Alexa, broadcast 'dinner is ready'"

Skype: e.g. "Alexa, call [person] with Skype"

First you need to register your phone number and contacts and it will pull in anyone else who has done the same in the app. Call blocking is available if you do not wish to receive calls from a particular person on you list. Calls can be directed to specific echoes (even within your own home) by using the device name, otherwise all devices will ring. The app, Echo Show and Echo Spot support video calls. You may also leave voice or text messages and pending messages are indicated on the Echo by a yellow light. If enable drop-in you can ask Alexa to "drop-in on [person/device name]" which works like an intercome and does not require the other end to specifically pick up. For information on the privacy nuances of drop-in check this writeup by AFTVNEws: http://www.aftvnews.com/warning-alexas-drop-in-permissions-extend-to-all-members-of-an-amazon-household/

Echoes in the US are able to call phones for free, either by contact or by number. A separate product called Echo Connect will allow you to use a plugin phone line so that the Echo can use your same number, receive calls or dial 911.

While normal Echoes are incompatible with keypad menu systems, touchscreen Echoes like the Show and Spot have keypad support.

How do multiple Echoes work

Amazon uses a feature they call ESP (Echo Spacial Partitioning) to activate the closest Echo to respond. However some features are tied to the particular device that was activated such as music and timers. You may communicate between Echoes using drop-in or calling. Echoes can also be arranged into groups for shared music playback. They can also be arranged in stereo groups.

How does buying stuff work?

You may ask Alexa to order products, it will surface the most relevant from a pool of highly rated and prime eligible products and tells you the price. The order must be confirmed before placed and you are free to cancel or return (for free) items ordered this way. It is paid for via the primary card on your account. You can use a passcode to prevent erroneous orders or use the My Voice feature.

How do accounts work?

Multiple users can setup accounts and Alexa can differentiate them by voice. This is used for shopping, music preferences, and calling. To setup voice recognition you must go to "My voice" in settings and go through an exercise.

How do third party devices work?

Largely the same though not all features are available on all devices and quality can vary (feature support is consistently improving).

Can I use other assistants?

Technically yes, but it involves making your own skill: http://alexamods.com/guide-install-ask-google-alexa-skill/. Amazon and Microsoft have an official partnership that allows Alexa to forward to Cortana and vice-versa. Amazon is also part of the Voice Interoperability Initiative (https://developer.amazon.com/en-US/alexa/voice-interoperability).
 
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Stinkles

343 Industries
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
15,202
She refuses to accept the Icelandic artist Aesgir even when I pronounce it the same way she does. I have to enter it manually in the app and the "a" is some Icelandic shit.
 

Stinkles

343 Industries
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
15,202
Also the app keeps defaulting to the fire TV I used once two years ago.
 
OP
OP

Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,694
She refuses to accept the Icelandic artist Aesgir even when I pronounce it the same way she does. I have to enter it manually in the app and the "a" is some Icelandic shit.
Even simpler, I can never add "turnips" to my shopping list. I don't know what it wants from me. There's definitely a couple of words it just refuses to hear.
 

Darknight

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,635
Glad to see this here. Also Stinkles too! Your new avatar is going to take some getting used to =)
 
OP
OP

Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,694
Looks like smart groups went live. You can now add echoes to your smart home groups. This allows you to do things like create a group called "kitchen" that includes an Echo and some smart lights. You can then say "Alex, turn on the lights" and if the kitchen Echo responds, then only the kitchen lights will go on. I will say that's what's supposed to happen but I'm currently having trouble with it.

In addition, you can now control you smart home items through the Alexa app directly.
 

pantsattack

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,646
I haven't seen the answer to this. If I say, "echo, play (movie)" to a Dot, what does a Fire TV do? With Movies Anywhere I have the same movies in multiple apps now.

Also, can a Dot that's playing music pick up commands for a Fire TV at the same time?

Oh, hi Stinkles!
 

Darknight

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,635
Looks like smart groups went live. You can now add echoes to your smart home groups. This allows you to do things like create a group called "kitchen" that includes an Echo and some smart lights. You can then say "Alex, turn on the lights" and if the kitchen Echo responds, then only the kitchen lights will go on. I will say that's what's supposed to happen but I'm currently having trouble with it.

In addition, you can now control you smart home items through the Alexa app directly.
I sure hope this will allow you to have more than one Logitech Harmony Hub now. I would love to get more of those if they'd work in their designated rooms.
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,694
Routines are also live, these are essentially named macros so you can say "Alexa, Good Morning" and have it turn on lights and read you the news. English (India) should also be rolling out as an Alexa language.
 

xxracerxx

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
17,678
Was possibly going to pick up a Sonos Play One w/ Alexa this afternoon. Anyone have one and do you like it?
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,694
There's an update going out for the 2nd gen Echo that improves sound quality. Also, today is Alexa's birthday, there's a small Easter egg if you tell her "Happy Birthday."
 

MisterDaku

Member
Nov 1, 2017
36
Texas
Don't forget the Echo Tap! It's completely portable!

We've got a Tap and a Dot and they're both fantastic pieces of equipment. Admittedly, we only use them for settings alarms and playing music, but they're fun to have around, and we fully plan to use them for home stuff down the road.
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,694
Don't forget the Echo Tap! It's completely portable!

We've got a Tap and a Dot and they're both fantastic pieces of equipment. Admittedly, we only use them for settings alarms and playing music, but they're fun to have around, and we fully plan to use them for home stuff down the road.
I kinda shove that in with "other devices" because there are starting to be a lot of them. The tap is a bit of a different beast, mainly that all Alexa devices have beamforming mics and get slight higher priority with features.

On a similar note: Amazon's new cloud cam was also released today and it's getting pretty good reviews and is also Alexa compatible.
 

MisterDaku

Member
Nov 1, 2017
36
Texas
I kinda shove that in with "other devices" because there are starting to be a lot of them. The tap is a bit of a different beast, mainly that all Alexa devices have beamforming mics and get slight higher priority with features.

On a similar note: Amazon's new cloud cam was also released today and it's getting pretty good reviews and is also Alexa compatible.
Fair enough. I'll definitely have to check out a couple things on this list I didn't know about, as well as that camera. New house means new toys!
 

Arttemis

The Fallen
Oct 28, 2017
2,743
I spent an evening adding the Ask Google skill last month, and it's definitely worth it. Tech echo just can't answer most of my questions, but when I access Google's assistant, I get the answers I want. It requires creating apps on Amazon and Google's infrastructures, as well as about $5/year, but it's totally worth that.
 

emag

Member
Oct 26, 2017
5,666
Was possibly going to pick up a Sonos Play One w/ Alexa this afternoon. Anyone have one and do you like it?
I just got back from Best Buy with a Sonos One and I'm a little bit disappointed.

Yes, the audio quality is far better than the Echo/Echo Plus and Google Home (let alone the Dot and Home Mini, which are only suitable for news briefings), but I had the [possibly unreasonable] expectation that it would compete with my home theater setup (a Yamaha receiver with 7.1 speakers which I'm running in 3.1 form with a powered Chromecast for audio steaming); instead, the Sonos One is maybe (if I'm being generous) on par with the decade-old $99 Logitech 2.1 speakers that I have hooked up to my work PC. Also, Alexa integration doesn't feel native: all music services have to be individually enabled in both the Sonos app and the Alexa app, and a lot of Alexa functionality is missing (alternate trigger words, personal voice training, calling/intercom, flash briefing).

To be fair, I'm not really a fan of Alexa/Amazon services, despite being a long-time Prime member and owner of several pieces of Amazon hardware. I picked up a Google Home Mini recently and found it a much more pleasant experience (nicer voice interpretation/response and not having to jump through hoops with skills; e.g., my Nest Thermostat Just Works with the Google Home Mini). I'm counting on Sonos actually getting Google Assistant and Airplay support working soon; if the One were limited to Alexa (particularly in its cut-down form), I'd gladly trade away the sound quality improvements of the Sonos One for the cost savings and more comfortable experience of the Google Home (standard). I spent much of the last week agonizing over choosing between the two; in fact, I strongly considered creating a Smart Speaker ERA OT to help me decide.

Edit: Alexa is infuriatingly bad. I can see from the transcripts that it recognizes the words I say, but its parsing abilities are far inferior to Google Home/Assistant's and the skills are extremely flakey. I feel like I have to wait for recognition of the "Alexa" trigger as well, which also throws me off. Can't wait for Google Assistant support. I'm about to turn off the mic and just use the Sonos One like a standard Sonos device.

Edit 2: OP should be updated -- the Echo 2017 has substantially WORSE audio quality than the original Echo (the Echo Plus is arguably better, though).
 
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OP

Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,694
I just got back from Best Buy with a Sonos One and I'm a little bit disappointed.

Yes, the audio quality is far better than the Echo/Echo Plus and Google Home (let alone the Dot and Home Mini, which are only suitable for news briefings), but I had the [possibly unreasonable] expectation that it would compete with my home theater setup (a Yamaha receiver with 7.1 speakers which I'm running in 3.1 form with a powered Chromecast for audio steaming); instead, the Sonos One is maybe (if I'm being generous) on par with the decade-old $99 Logitech 2.1 speakers that I have hooked up to my work PC. Also, Alexa integration doesn't feel native: all music services have to be individually enabled in both the Sonos app and the Alexa app, and a lot of Alexa functionality is missing (alternate trigger words, personal voice training, calling/intercom, flash briefing).

To be fair, I'm not really a fan of Alexa/Amazon services, despite being a long-time Prime member and owner of several pieces of Amazon hardware. I picked up a Google Home Mini recently and found it a much more pleasant experience (nicer voice interpretation/response and not having to jump through hoops with skills; e.g., my Nest Thermostat Just Works with the Google Home Mini). I'm counting on Sonos actually getting Google Assistant and Airplay support working soon; if the One were limited to Alexa (particularly in its cut-down form), I'd gladly trade away the sound quality improvements of the Sonos One for the cost savings and more comfortable experience of the Google Home (standard). I spent much of the last week agonizing over choosing between the two; in fact, I strongly considered creating a Smart Speaker ERA OT to help me decide.

Edit: Alexa is infuriatingly bad. I can see from the transcripts that it recognizes the words I say, but its parsing abilities are far inferior to Google Home/Assistant's and the skills are extremely flakey. I feel like I have to wait for recognition of the "Alexa" trigger as well, which also throws me off. Can't wait for Google Assistant support. I'm about to turn off the mic and just use the Sonos One like a standard Sonos device.

Edit 2: OP should be updated -- the Echo 2017 has substantially WORSE audio quality than the original Echo (the Echo Plus is arguably better, though).
Hmmm...some of this is factually inaccurate. Alexa does have native integration for Nest and has since before Google Home existed. You do not have to wait for Echo to respond to "Alexa" it picks up asynchronously. Perhaps some of this could be chalked up to Sonos' hardware and software?

Skills are developer based, it's really up to how they design them and you should give developers feedback. Pretty much everyone is new at it.

For the Echo 2017 are you comparing pre or post update?



In other news Echo and Alexa just launched in Canada with a brand-new accent and some Canadian service support: https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/77d64543-231a-45c2-a1c1-595288e82b62/alexa-skills-kit-and-alexa-voice-service-expand-to-canada
 

Guppeth

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,541
Sheffield, UK
I bought a 2nd gen Echo this week and the sound is deeply unimpressive (after applying the firmware update). It's pretty cheap so I don't mind. I never had a 1st gen so I don't know if the sound is better or worse, but if you want a good speaker don't buy the standard Echo.

I've got a B&W A5 that I stopped using because Airplay sucks, so I'm going to try plugging it into the Echo. The A5 was quite slow at waking from sleep over a wireless connection, but hopefully it will turn on instantly using the 3.5mm jack.

I tried using the Anypod skill for podcasts, but there's no way to sync it with the podcast app on my phone which is annoying. I also wish I could set an alarm that activates the radio player.
 
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emag

Member
Oct 26, 2017
5,666
Hmmm...some of this is factually inaccurate. Alexa does have native integration for Nest and has since before Google Home existed. You do not have to wait for Echo to respond to "Alexa" it picks up asynchronously. Perhaps some of this could be chalked up to Sonos' hardware and software?
The Amazon Alexa app required me to download/enable a skill for my Nest thermostat. That was independent of the Sonos element (also required for use with my 1st party Amazon Alexa device). However, you're right about that it's Sonos' version of Alexa that has the annoying recognition chime that cannot be disabled, unlike actual Echo hardware (confirmed by a Sonos community manager).

I understand that skills are third party, but 1) Alexa requires third party skills to match the core functionality Google Home/Assistant has out of the box and 2) the skill "store" is full of illegitimate and broken apps. Amazon can't have it both ways.

That said, I've spent some more time with Alexa in the last few days and am not quite as frustrated as I was when I posted the previous message (although I still much prefer Google Home/Assistant). Once Sonos supports Flash Briefing and Spotify via Alexa, I think Alexa on the One will be at the level of an acceptable voice assistant.

EDIT (11/21): I returned the Sonos One. I had friends over Saturday for board gaming and Alexa would go wonky while we were just talking (and would also not stop playing music when asked). I'll just get a Google Home on Black Friday. It doesn't sound as good as the Sonos One, but not having to deal with Alexa (and the price differential) is worth it. On an unrelated note, YouTube is back on the Echo Show.
 
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pantsattack

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,646
I just started using reminders and they are going to be a mainstay for me. "Echo, remind me at 1:10 to dry the laundry." It has a voice and ring like a timer, but I didn't expect a text on my phone too. Very nice.
 
OP
OP

Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,694
The Amazon Alexa app required me to download/enable a skill for my Nest thermostat. That was independent of the Sonos element (also required for use with my 1st party Amazon Alexa device). However, you're right about that it's Sonos' version of Alexa that has the annoying recognition chime that cannot be disabled, unlike actual Echo hardware (confirmed by a Sonos community manager).

I understand that skills are third party, but 1) Alexa requires third party skills to match the core functionality Google Home/Assistant has out of the box and 2) the skill "store" is full of illegitimate and broken apps. Amazon can't have it both ways.

That said, I've spent some more time with Alexa in the last few days and am not quite as frustrated as I was when I posted the previous message (although I still much prefer Google Home/Assistant). Once Sonos supports Flash Briefing and Spotify via Alexa, I think Alexa on the One will be at the level of an acceptable voice assistant.
Oh, yeah it needs a connector skill otherwise how would it be allowed to make requests to Nest's service on your behalf? Even Google Home will need this to communicate with 3rd party services, they can probably just directly hook Nest up directly because it is a subsidiary of theirs.

Also, what do you think Google Assistant has that Alexa needs extra skills enabled for? I've been following the whole space so I have a general idea of advertised features but I already have enough Echoes and it makes little sense for me to get a Home just for comparison and so I don't know about the minutia of it.
 

Darknight

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,635
Also, what do you think Google Assistant has that Alexa needs extra skills enabled for? I've been following the whole space so I have a general idea of advertised features but I already have enough Echoes and it makes little sense for me to get a Home just for comparison and so I don't know about the minutia of it.
My house is pretty integrated with Echoes with one in almost every room, including one in a bathroom, but I'm actually heavily considering getting a Google Home Mini or two during BF. $20 each is kind of hard to pass up on getting one or two to play around with. Plus, I might be able to mitigate the problem I'm having with the kids trying to stream music in different rooms and them cutting off the other person and getting into fights over it unless there's some way to resolve that with the Echo.
 
OP
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,694
Small update:

- Eufy Genie now supports ESP and is down to $20 making it the cheapest general entry point: http://www.aftvnews.com/eufy-genie-now-supports-echo-spatial-perception-esp/. Speaker is a tad better than the Dot but it still lacks a few things like messaging support that 3rd parties don't have yet.
- In time for Christmas, you can now specify to not have Echo announce what product was shipped when asking.
- Perhaps of note to emag, Amazon is rolling out a new scheme for simplifying device pairing by allowing devices to generate codes that can be entered to pair them without needing to authorize a skill directly. https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/07415054-3ef5-4b66-9b2d-fcf3cd94ac1b/amazon-streamlines-device-based-authorization-for-alexa-enabled-products
- There's a new RED version of the 2nd gen Echo that will donate $10 to AIDS charity: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07521PDC8/?tag=era0f0-20
 

DBT85

Member
Oct 26, 2017
8,440
I have questions if anyone can answer?

Wife and I both have our own Spotify accounts. Can we use both on one unit or is it basically signed in and then you'd have to sign in again on the other account?

I have a smart TV with plex installed on it in my living room and in my bedroom. How would it know what tv to put the thing on that I want?

I also understand that it can't talk to the chromecast?

I like the idea, but most of my ceiling lights are pre assembled LED units, not separate bulbs so there is limited use there.
 

MrKlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,659
Spotify is paired to your amazon account - it’s a big issue if you have multiple users in the House tbh

You may be able to set up different users but hen you’d have to sign in on the Alexa (by voice) each time.

Or you could just use your phone and the echo shows up as a destination device
 

DBT85

Member
Oct 26, 2017
8,440
Eh. If I'm using my phone I just send it to the TV or the amp anyway.

OK. Very little in it for me right now then.
 

MrKlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,659
Eh. If I'm using my phone I just send it to the TV or the amp anyway.

OK. Very little in it for me right now then.
Well if you just want to play a specific song it shouldn’t matter which account is logged in? May only be an issue if you want it to play specific playlists from both accounts
 
OP
OP

Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,694
Youtube is now back on the Echo Show, though it's basically loading the web version and is generally awful compared to Amazon's attempt (you can actually click on links to start navigating with the browser). Good job Google, you sure fixed that "broken" UI. Also the Show gets Dailymotion and Vimeo as well:

https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/11/21/16686174/youtube-amazon-echo-show-google-back-updated-design-ui

Also, improved support for several video services is rolling out to Alexa integration for Fire TV, so you can directly start shows on Netflix, for example:

http://www.aftvnews.com/alexa-can-now-directly-start-netflix-content-on-the-amazon-fire-tv/
http://www.aftvnews.com/alexa-can-now-change-channels-and-control-playback-in-playstation-vue-on-the-fire-tv/

Spotify should also be available for Sonos/Alexa users: https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/11/21/16684364/sonos-alexa-spotify-now-available
 

xxracerxx

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
17,678
I have been more than happy with my Sonos One in my kitchen/den area. Having Spotify on the sucker now is also awesome.
 

xxracerxx

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
17,678
Sonos is having a few sales right now, nothing spectacular but knocks off a bit here and there.
 

Darryl M R

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,250
So right now I only have hue lights and I don't expect to go all out with my home automation right away. Should I just get the Echo dot or will I not be able to have voice control for my lights?
 

Darryl M R

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,250
If you've got the Hue hub then it'll work fine.
Thanks for the response. Yup I have the Hue hub, will I need to connect the dot to the hub with wires or can they connect wirelessly?

Also I plan to eventually get the Echo Plus (or the then top Alexa hub at the moment) in the future, will I be able to remove the Hue hub if my Alexa device has a hub in it?
 

Guppeth

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,541
Sheffield, UK
Thanks for the response. Yup I have the Hue hub, will I need to connect the dot to the hub with wires or can they connect wirelessly?

Also I plan to eventually get the Echo Plus (or the then top Alexa hub at the moment) in the future, will I be able to remove the Hue hub if my Alexa device has a hub in it?
I have my Hue hub plugged into my router (not directly, through powerline) and my Echo completely wireless. I was considering getting an Echo Plus but I decided not to because they don't have all the functionality of the Hue hub. And they're ugly as fuck.
 

Darryl M R

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,250
I have my Hue hub plugged into my router (not directly, through powerline) and my Echo completely wireless. I was considering getting an Echo Plus but I decided not to because they don't have all the functionality of the Hue hub. And they're ugly as fuck.
Perfect, I just pulled the trigger and ordered the Dot since the Black Friday sale and my Amazon reward points made it free. I currently have my Hue hub also plugged into my modem.

I'm looking forward to using the Chegg tool on the Dot so I can study some flash cards with Alexa
 

MrKlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,659
Thanks for the response. Yup I have the Hue hub, will I need to connect the dot to the hub with wires or can they connect wirelessly?

Also I plan to eventually get the Echo Plus (or the then top Alexa hub at the moment) in the future, will I be able to remove the Hue hub if my Alexa device has a hub in it?
Wireless - echo dot is wireless anyway

You could possibly get rid of the hue hub if you get an echo plus in the future but you’d have to redo all your hue settings and scenes etc which might be a pain
 

Darryl M R

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,250
Wireless - echo dot is wireless anyway

You could possibly get rid of the hue hub if you get an echo plus in the future but you’d have to redo all your hue settings and scenes etc which might be a pain
I'm willing to do that in 2 years when I expect to move from my current apartment.

I'm interested in Sonos speakers with Alexa usage
 

Aesthet1c

Member
Oct 27, 2017
428
Really torn on whether to get this or the Google home. Both are $80 for black Friday.

Does anyone have any experience with both? Sound quality for music is probably my most important factor, followed closely by how well the device understands voice.

It seems like both are pretty good at both and it's hard to find any specific reviews that give one an edge over the other. Although it does seem the 2nd gen Echo has better sound quality than the Home.
 

Guppeth

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,541
Sheffield, UK
Really torn on whether to get this or the Google home. Both are $80 for black Friday.

Does anyone have any experience with both? Sound quality for music is probably my most important factor, followed closely by how well the device understands voice.

It seems like both are pretty good at both and it's hard to find any specific reviews that give one an edge over the other. Although it does seem the 2nd gen Echo has better sound quality than the Home.
I have the 2nd gen Echo. The voice recognition is exceptionally good. The sound quality for music is not good, so if the 2nd gen is better than the Home you should buy neither. Save a bit more and buy a Sonos One, like I wish I'd done.

Edit: I do think they're ok for the price though. Especially with those discounts.