Echo is a voice-activated speaker and home device controller. She responds to the wake-up word 'Alexa' and is capable of creating lists, checking your calendar, the weather, traffic reports and more. Those of you who follow my blog know that I have an interest in chatbots and digital assistants, so I couldn't resist purchasing the Echo.
Even though Amazon Echo is not available in my country.
I managed to find a UK seller on eBay who shipped a brand new device to me that arrived a couple of days later. Getting the Echo to work in the UK is not an easy process. Anyone thinking of doing so should read the guidance on Amazonechouk.com very carefully. Please do this and be careful who you buy from. I hear stories of people purchasing devices that have 'fallen off the back of a lorry' from unscrupulous sellers. These devices have already been reported to Amazon as 'lost in transit' and will not work for you at all. You will have simply purchased an expensive paperweight.
I had a lot of trouble getting my device to work in the UK.
- You need to create an American Amazon account. That is amazon.com, not your usual amazon.co.uk account.
- The Echo app is likely to be unavailable in your country. Attempting to use the web app will result in tears and frustration, or simply an error message saying that you need the desktop app (which is unavailable in your country).
- Following guidance online I used the web app in chrome on my Android tablet. You can get around the problems above by going to 'settings' and selecting 'request a desktop app'.
- I then attempted to connect to my Wifi over and over until it finally connected.
It really did take a lot of attempts to connect the device to my Wifi, but I got there in the end. I wish I could say what I did differently on the last attempt but I just don't know.
I haven't yet got fully to grips with everything she can do. The main problems are the fact that she thinks I am in America. I get American news and weather, and I need to say "what is the time in the United Kingdom" for local time. She can't find local weather for me and I need to specify the I want "BBC" radio 4.
And then there is the irritating American accent. They really need to release this product in the UK with a Yorkshire accent.
Despite the language barrier she responds well to voice commands and has no problems with my accent. She can search the web and pull facts from Wikipedia within a couple of seconds.
I am looking forward to exploring all of the other things Amazon Echo can do for me, such as IFTTT integration, so keep tuned for more posts soon.
Before I go I need to say that at this moment I am inevitably reminded of Talkie Toaster from the wonderful Red Dwarf: