Amazon Echo

Hello Readers… This issue is dedicated to the Amazon Echo.  The Echo is a voice activated digital assistant that is similar to Suri on Apple products and Cortana with Microsoft Windows. When the first Echo was launched in 2014, there was only one option.  Now there are different models to choose from with an array of options and making it more difficult on which device to purchase that will suit your needs.

Let’s look at some basic properties of an Echo.  All Amazon Echo devices have a digital assistant named Alexa built into the device. They have essentially the same core features.

Amazon Echo looks like a cylindrical Bluetooth speaker, and it is in part.  The device has a built in omnidirectional speakers that play music and other audio.  Like smartphones with voice recognition capabilities, Echo is taking another step toward voice –controlled computers of science fiction.

You can ask the Echo to play music, tell you the weather forecast, add to your to-do-list, read your schedule or the news, and much more.  If you have compatible smart-home devices, you can tell Echo to dim the lights or turn appliances on or off.  Amazon is adding more services to the Echo all the time and has made  Alexa cloud service available for use by third-party developers, opening it up to lots of future possibilities.

A light ring at the outer edge provides status information, such as the volume level and whether the device is streaming audio or the microphone is turned off, via various light colors and motions.  A LED lets you know the status of the device’s Wi-Fi connection.

The Echo constantly listens for a special wake word to know when to start listening for commands.  The default word is “Alexa” but you can change it to “Amazon” or “Echo” using the app.  The Echo understands a .set of pre-programmed commands.  It does one of three things: performs the task you requested, prompts you for more information, or tells you it doesn’t understand your request.

Some examples of Echo voice commands include:

  • “Alexa, What’s the weather in Atlanta Georgia?”
  • “Alexa, Tell me a joke”
  • “Alexa, How far is it from Chicago to New York?”
  • “Alexa, Sample songs by Pink Floyd”
  • “Alexa, What’s the IMDb rating for ‘Star Wars’?”


Amazon has many different devices to choose from.  Each one is designed to satisfy your needs at reasonable prices.  Here are a few more:

Echo 2- This is the standard model for those who want a good all-round speaker with the advantages that Alexa brings.  It is designed for those who don’t need all the extra bells and whistles and  a device that is affordable.

Echo Dot– The Echo Dot is the baby of the Echo family.  This model doesn’t have a quality speaker like the Echo 2 but you can connect a speaker via Bluetooth and have a quality sound system that is equal to its big brother.  The Echo Dot comes with all functionality of the Echo 2 in a nice small package.  For those who want the Alexa experience but don’t need another speaker, this is the Echo for you.

Echo Plus – The Echo Plus is a step up from the Echo 2, but it also comes with a bigger price tag.  The difference is a built-in smart hub so you can connect the Echo to your smart home devices and have Alexa search for any compatible smart-home products with one command.  Sound quality is also enhanced with the speaker having far crisper highs than the Echo 2 alongside with deeper bass and general improvements to its voice recognition.  The Echo Plus is designed for people who have lots of smart gadgets around the house and for the audiophiles that want the best sound quality built in.

Echo Show – The Echo Show is a major upgrade on the standard Echo as it comes with a 7 inch screen.  This means you can view video content and watch the News instead of just listening to it.  It also lets you make video calls and send video messages.  Essentially, it’s a regular Echo with knobs.  The Echo Show is for people who think that a screen will increase productivity and enjoyment out of a product.  If you want to make video calls, this is probably the Echo for you.

Echo Spot – The Echo Spot is a ball-shaped clock with Alexa functionality.  It has a small screen which displays text-based notifications as well as soothing pictures of clouds.  There is even a front facing camera integrated into the Spot which allows you to make video calls.  You can use all the normal voice commands that you use with the standard Echo products.  The Echo Spot is for people who see Echo as a perfect alarm clock substitute or want the Echo Show but cannot justify the price.

Echo Buttons – The Echo Buttons are not really an Echo.   They are an accessory to your existing Echo network.  The buttons connect to your choice of Echo speaker via Bluetooth and are integrated to be used with games that are powered by Alexa.  Basically, this is Amazon’s attempt to making the Echo a game-friendly family speaker.

Eco Tap – The Echo Tap is a portable wireless device that doesn’t have as good sound quality as the Echo 2, but you get all the features that the original Echo offers.  It is charged via dock and is completely wireless with a reported 9 hours of music playback. The Echo Tap is intended for people who want a portable device.


About Michael DeFlorio
I have worked is various positions as a system administrator, support technician, as a help desk support, and as an IT consultant in a corporate environment. I currently run a small business where I provide computer services such as hardware configuration, installation, for residential and for medium and small businesses. You can contact me by email or visit my website at

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