The Amazon Echo – Out of the box and onto the network. Hello Alexa.

When Amazon first sent me email about their new Echo device, I was quite intrigued and looked over the material with great interest. It’s a wireless and hands-free device to play music and to be used as a basic research tool. It hooks into your Amazon music account to play music you already own and searches through all the free music (if you’re a Prime subscriber). It can also answer standard questions such as "what is the weather like today", "what time is it?" and "set a timer for 30 minutes". And while on the surface it seems pretty simple, it turns out to be a whole lot of fun!

Mine showed up on Friday so I spent the weekend tinkering around with it. First of all, when you open it up, it looks like you’re unwrapping a fine bottle of Scotch. I guess Amazon took some cues from Apple on how to package a device. Opening you’re new product should be an experience.

Anyway, the Echo itself looks like a black Pringles can. It took about 5 minutes to get set up and then Alexa was playing music from my account. It’s wise to use a tablet device to set up Echo so you can install the app to track what’s available in your account. I tried using my regular PC, but that didn’t seem to go so well. I just switched over to my iPad and forged ahead.

But the setup only took a minute or two and Echo was ready. The device is referred to as Alexa, so each command is preceded with the word, "Alexa". Obviously, this is the same philosophy as "Siri".

So how does it work? Well, quite well actually. But let’s take a moment to marvel at the technology we have here. It’s a wireless device that without any training can understand voice commands. I didn’t spend hours reading paragraph after paragraph to train it how to understand how I pronounce words. From the beginning it understood my voice and knew where I was located. I started off by playing some Rush from my catalog and Echo had "Clockwork Angels" playing. I then asked about the weather, the time, when the Superbowl was, who Geddy Lee was, where the Echo was made and even had it tell me a joke. Honestly, it was quite fun.

Just think, it used to be computers took up the space of an entire building and took and entire team of people to handle one machine. Now you can hold it in the palm of your hand and talk to it.

The voice is quite pleasing and sounds pretty natural. It only got tripped up a couple of times as there seems to be a difference between "who wrote" versus "who is the author of" when asking a question. I had Alexa hanging out in the kitchen while cooking, playing music and setting timers. At night, Alexa was playing music next to the computer while I played Shroud of the Avatar. I had it jump around different to songs and different albums by just talking to it. Didn’t have to take my hands off the keyboard or anything. Plus, I spoke in my natural tone, not some slow, deliberate, Capt. Kirk style voice.

Overall, Echo is pretty impressive! The design is quite nice, the software works really well and it’s very easy to use. I’m also thinking of upgrading my Music Library to the 250,000 songs tier, even though I have a fraction of that in music. But they only have 2 setting, all or nothing. It’s only $25 a year, which is very cheap in my opinion. But seriously, who has 250,000 songs?

Buy anyway, so far Echo is very impressive. It’s a good design and works well. Plus, once programmed, you can unplug it and move it anywhere around the house. It takes a few seconds to reconnect and then it’s back up and working. I’m quite pleased.

Other articles of interest:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Comments
  • Simple wildcard searches for pattern matching (2)
    • Don Pedro: For that scenario it seems .contains would be your choice. For example, variable.contains(‘amazo n.com’) to see if the url had amazon.com. In that case, www.amazon.com, forum.amazon.com, retail.amazon.com would all...
    • Jony: Hi, How can I use a wild card to assert a URL is the one I want. I just want to verify the domain ==expected but not anything after it. Tried * but not working and only works when I have full URL.
  • Create a Dynamic Object at Runtime (2)
    • Saish: How to add shadow root parent to this runtime object..
    • Jeremy Brien: I appreciate this! I saw this post on LinkedIn this morning and was able to find a use case for it! I found that defining my xpath with an iterable variable allows me to loop through and capture text from tables created...
  • Output status messages and test information by writing to the Log File Viewer in Katalon Studio (2)
    • Don Pedro: That would be things like: log.logWarning(‘The import date listed on the site is: ‘ + importDate) log.logWarning(‘The value from the site is: ‘ + salesFigure) log.logWarning(‘Filter Results for ‘ +...
    • Prashant Pednekar: Thanks for the informative article but can we also put some variable values to make it more exciting.
  • Setting up a repeatable Search Method in Katalon Studio (1)
    • RJ: Thanks a lot! This is very helpful 🙂
  • Filling forms with random numbers in Katalon Studio (3)
    • Patrick Clough: We created a handy random string generator custom keyword. The method takes in a string for the type of string you want, and an integer for the length. Looks like this: static String RANDOM_ALPHANUM =...
    • Don Pedro: randomNumber is the variable that holds the result of generating a new random number. Depending on how things work on your site, you might need to convert the number to a String before it’s recognized correctly....
    • Seth: When you are setting up randomNumber is this a new keyword or a new variable? I am trying to randomly generate unique socials and can’t seem to connect my generator to my Set Text.
  • Working with Dates and Date Formatting in Katalon Studio (5)
    • Ann: THANK YOU ! That worked perfectly !
    • Don Pedro: import groovy.time.TimeCategory currentDate = new Date() println currentDate use( TimeCategory ) { after30Mins = currentDate + 30.minutes } println after30Mins https://stackoverflow.com/ques tions/21166927/incrementing...
    • ricky julianto nugroho: hay can u gave me an example for plus a hour in the time ? example : now is 15 pm i want to print 16 in the text thank you
  • Boostnote for Code Snippets (1)
    • Manual: Hi Don, Regarding the code snippets and examples that you have created. Is there any GitHub repo or something that can be shared? Thanks
  • Using TypeIt4Me with Katalon Studio (3)
    • Manual: That’s great thanks for sharing.