Does It Work: The Amazon Echo - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Does It Work: The Amazon Echo

(KLTV) -

If you've ever bought anything from, you might be familiar with their Amazon Prime Membership option. For about $100 a year, most items offer free two-day shipping. But with that annual fee ,you also get unlimited access to thousands of movies, books and music at no extra cost.

And that's why Amazon offers its own line of hardware: tablets, book readers, phones and now an entirely new kind of product called the Amazon Echo. It's brand new, but our Joe Terrell was one of the very first to get his hands on one…and now, it gets the Does it Work test.

If Apple's SIRI married a bluetooth speaker, the Amazon Echo would be their offspring.

“You know it didn't arrive with much fanfare, in fact very little at all. In kind of have to have permission to even buy one. But I want you to meet my new assistant: the Amazon Echo. Let me show you what it does. Alexa, what time is it?” I said.

“The time is 12:05.” Echo replied.

“Alexa, what's the weather outside?” I asked.

“Right now in Tyler it's 58 degrees with mostly cloudy skies,” Echo said.

The Echo plugs into the wall. in a world of portable & wearable electronics, that's unusual. Think of Echo as an appliance after a painless connection to your wifi, just start asking questions. Alexa, as she's known, hears everything, but only listens when you first say, “Alexa”…

“ Alexa, what year was John F. Kennedy born?” I asked.

“1917,” Echo reported.

The Echo has seven very sensitive microphones on top.

It has six around the edges and one in the middle.

And the more you ask, the better it gets at understanding you. The echo will play your choice of music from several different sources. Just ask for say, classical and music you've purchased from Amazon or free music from the free Amazon Prime library starts right up. You can ask for more volume or use the volume ring on top.

“Even though the volume is quite high on the music right now, Alexa and her seven microphones still should be able to hear me. Oh, she did. When I said the word 'Alexa,' Alexa stopped,” I said.

You can get news updates called flash briefings.

“From NPR News in Washington…” Echo played on verbal request.

If you have a Kindle Fire tablet, you can download the free companion app. It's not at all necessary but does some nice things like keeping lists for you.

“Alexa, add half and half to my shopping list,” I stated.

“I added half and half to your shopping list,” Echo confirmed.

But imagine the usefulness of this:

“Alexa what's 237 x 219?” I queried.

“237 x 219 is 51,903 .” Echo ciphered.

Or this:

“Alexa, Wikipedia Battle of the Bulge,” I said.

“The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive campaign launched…” Echo answered.

Echo is hooked in with Tune In radio and I Heart Radio, so it can find popular podcasts and radio programs you might like.

Echo pairs more easily with my iPhone than any bluetooth speaker I've ever tried.

And it's plenty loud with good sound quality, decent bass and no distortion.

The included remote works from at least 30 yards and has a built in microphone for communicating with Echo.

“Alexa, do you work?” I asked.

“Everything seems to be working,” Echo replied.

We give the Echo a yes, everything seems to be working…even her sense or humor

I had to request an invitation at to even become eligible to purchase an echo. I got it his on the first day they shipped out and so far have not been allowed to purchase another. I believe the limited release is so Amazon can make sure the voice recognition is working and learning what people will ask…before they go out to the masses, which should be very soon. How much are they? If you are an Amazon Prime member, or sign up, the Echo will cost you $99. If not, they're $199.

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