I thought I'd share my experiences with the Amazon Echo Dot, 2016 model.
This little gadget came out a few weeks ago in the UK. The cost is very reasonable. As I type this it is available at around £50.
I like it LOTS. In fact I have already bought a second one. My first one was black, for the second one I tried white. I'd recommend the black one as it looks the neater of the two in my view.
As you can see in the image above this small gadget, the size and shape of a hockey puck, can light up its top rim in a variety of colours to indicate various things.
I put the first one in the living room. I can now sit in there and say "Alexa turn on light" and the lamp in the corner of the room will light up. Likewise I can turn the fan on and off in the same way.
This is because the Alexa system built into the Echo Dot can control the WeMo sockets I have around the house. I did an earlier review of what WeMo sockets are. Alexa can in fact control a myriad of different home automation products and a list of some of those is on its page at Amazon HERE.
A simple plug socket that Alexa can control can be bought on Amazon for under £30. More expensive items you could control would for example be things like the Philips Hue lighting system or the Nest thermostat system.
Setting up Alexa and adding skills to what she can do is via an App. I use the iOS one on my iPhone. There are also other versions.
I have my Echo Dot setup to tell me recipes from top chefs, to tell me the ingredients and how to make a mass of cocktails and so on. I can do a vast amount using it in fact, and I can only mention a little of it here. If you have questions though please just ask me on the DigiKeep forums.
I had fun yesterday asking Alexa to read a bedtime story to my Grandson, and it did so with his name being mentioned throughout.
Talking to Alexa is in my view a very neat experience. I have never been too impressed with Siri nor the Google attempt at this. Alexa seems vastly better to me.
With the echo dot next to my bed I can whisper in the dark "Alexa set alarm for 7am" and Alexa will confirm it is set. I can also say "Alexa play KJUL" and my favourite Las Vegas radio station will gently send me off to sleep. I tend to also say "Alexa set sleep timer for 30 minutes" so that she will cease playing the radio station 30 minutes later.
I've found a way to buy an Audio book for a couple of pounds and I intent to just say "Alexa read my book" when I get a night when I'm not going straight off to sleep.
I can say to Alexa things like "Alexa add milk to my shopping list", I can boil and egg and time it saying to Alexa "Alexa set countdown for 5 minutes"...
I can't really begin to list all the possible uses for this setup. Alexa can do maths and conversions and so on, so saying "Alexa how many kilograms is 7 stone 8lb" back will come the answer is a very clear precise way. I've yet to try ordering food with it, or asking it to get me a cab, or many of the other abilities it has.
When I was waiting for my second Echo Dot to be delivered I said to the first one "Alexa where is my stuff" and she replied with details on my Amazon order and when it could be expected to be delivered.
I can also say "Alexa News" and get the last info and weather forecast. I can say "Alexa open National Rail" and then say "commute" and it will tell me the time of the next train on the route I have setup as my commute, and also if there are any delays on the line, and the times of later trains if I want and so on.
The Echo Dot contains a surprisingly good speaker and it can also send sound via Bluetooth, so to Bluetooth headphones and speakers etc.
I'm only scraping the surface on what this device can do and we can only guess at what it may be able to do in the future. I recommend it - and the Amazon page for further information and ordering if you wish to get one is HERE. If you do get one or some please tell us about your experience with it on the DigiKeep forums.
Have fun, Steve