Amazon Echo Review: Introducing Alexa, Your Digital Assistant
The Echo's Design
The Echo employs a cylindrical design that measures about 9.25 inches high and 3.27 inches in diameter. With this design, the Echo is able to deliver 360-degree sound, though its size forces some limitations on the speakers and output. It weighs about 26.9 ounces and plugs into an outlet for constant power. The Echo supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networks and uses dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO). In addition to Internet connectivity, the Echo offers Bluetooth with support for Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) and Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP).
On the top of the Echo, you’ll notice a light ring, Microphone off button, and Action button. The Echo also has seven microphones built into the top of the device. These microphones allow Echo to hear you from anywhere in the room using far-field voice recognition technology. Depending on the layout of your home and where you place the Echo, you may also find that the Echo can hear you from adjacent rooms, particularly when there isn’t a lot of background noise.
The Echo also has built-in noise cancellation which makes it possible for you to ask a question or adjust the volume even while loud music is playing. We tested this feature many times during the course of our review and were pleased with how well the Echo heard us while it was playing loud music or when other background noises were present. Amazon also provides a remote that can be used to adjust volume or relay voice commands when it’s having a hard time hearing you. We used the remote for testing purposes but the vast majority of the time it simply collected dust on our countertop.
A volume ring sits at the top of the Echo. To adjust the volume of the Echo, you can twist this ring, use the remote, or use your voice, simply telling Alexa to turn the volume up or down or set it to a specific level.
Internally, Echo has dual downward-firing speakers that enable it to provide 360-degree omni-directional audio. There’s a 2.5-inch subwoofer along with a reflex port to help enhance the woofer’s output and minimize distortion. The 2.0-inch tweeter sits at the bottom of the Echo.
The overall sound quality of the Echo is suprisingly good and we were impressed with the output and quality. The Echo produced rich highs and good lows for its size. That said, if you’re a true audiophile looking for a speaker strictly for playing music, you’ll likely appreciate something geared more for high-end audio. We compared the Echo’s sound quality to a Bose SoundLink Bluetooth speaker. While we were pleased with the output of both speakers, you’ll enjoy richer highs, clearer lows, and better mid-tones with the Bose SoundLink than with the Echo. Of course, the SoundLink can’t provide the added functionality that Echo offers so it’s a trade-off.