What to Know About the Amazon Echo

Here's everything you need to know about the Amazon Echo smart speaker.

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Amazon Echovia amazon.com

The Amazon Echo, now on its third generation, is one of the most popular smart devices on the market. It has a wide range of uses that make it a valuable addition to any home. No matter what your needs, you’ll find a use for this smart-home device. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Amazon Echo?

Amazon Echo is what is called a smart speaker. It can play music, just like regular speakers, but it has an added feature that makes it extra useful: a built-in virtual assistant. This assistant can answer questions for you, adjust your smart thermostat, check the weather, tell jokes, play games with you and much more.

Use this video as a guide to set up your Amazon Echo.

What is the Difference Between the Echo and Alexa?

That assistant we were just talking about is named Alexa. While Alexa is an important part of an Amazon Echo, they aren’t the same thing. Other Amazon devices also feature Alexa. You can even talk to Alexa through the Alexa app. (If you want, you can change Alexa’s name. Here’s how.)

How Does Amazon Echo Work?

The Echo is all about voice commands. You can ask it to play music from streaming services like Spotify, SiriusXM, Amazon Music, Apple Music and Pandora. Or ask what the temperature is, trivia questions and much more. The key is that you must activate Alexa to get the smart speaker to respond. All you have to do is say Alexa’s name before a command or question. For example, “Alexa, what will the weather be like today?” You can also control other smart devices by giving Alexa voice commands, as long as they are Alexa-compatible.

What Devices Are Compatible with Amazon Echo?

More than 85,000 smart-home devices are Alexa-compatible. These include lights, door locks, smart plugs, thermostats, appliances and security cameras. Some of the more popular Alexa-compatible devices are Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat , Wemo Mini Smart Plug and Philips Hue lighting.

Are There Different Versions of Amazon Echo?

If you’re thinking about buying the Echo, you may want to take a look at the Amazon Echo Plus, too. In addition to all of the things Echo can do, the Echo Plus can connect with Zigbee devices. And it has a sensor that notes when the temperature changes in a room so that it can automatically adjust a smart thermostat, if you have one. However, these two extra features add to the cost. The Echo retails for around $100, while the Echo Plus is currently closer to $150.

Alina Bradford
Alina Bradford is a technology and internet safety and security expert for SafeWise.com and has contributed her insights to dozens of national publications, both in print and online. Her goal is to make gadgets less mystifying, one article at a time.