What’s the Deal with Amazon Alexa and What’s the Best Alexa Device for Me?

Why You Need Amazon Alexa As Your New BFF

On Prime Day I took a step into the world of AIexa (artificial intelligence) and brought the Amazon Alexa Enabled Echo Dot into our home. My kids instantly took to Alexa, our virtual voice assistant. She’s smart, charming, and actually a lot of fun to have around! Alexa is found in more than just the Echo Dot. Today I’m going to explain to you exactly WHAT Amazon Alexa is, what she can do, and how you can know which of the several Amazon Alexa devices you will need in your home! By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll see WHY Alexa is kindof a big deal! And I bet you’ll want her in your home too.  🙂

If you are like how I was at the start of 2017, I couldn’t have told you the difference between all the different Amazon Devices and Tech out there! And I certainly didn’t know why Amazon Alexa was so cool.

There are multiple Amazon Alexa devices like the echo dot, echo plus, echo connect, PLUS a fire TV? What in the world does all of this mean?! After a lot of research on Amazon, and testing it out for myself… I am now a pro mom on all Amazon Devices! With Black Friday coming up, we are expecting to see some HOT deals on these devices, so I decided NOW is the time to explain each one to you so that you can see which speaker/device is best for you and your family!

Before I dive into the devices though, I want to talk to you about Alexa. 

You may be asking, so who is this Alexa? Alexa is the “Siri” of Amazon Devices. Although, in my opinion, she can do far more than Siri! She is “artificial intelligence” and can be considered your family’s virtual assistant, if you utilize her skills! She is there to answer any question or command that you may have. All you have to do is say, “Alexa…” and she will respond to you. You can ask her anything from what the weather is like today or even tell her to buy something on Amazon! You can have her add something to your shopping list (not just Amazon shopping list by the way) or tell her to turn off the lights (if you have a smart home… more on that later). Alexa can do JUST about anything! My family loves her!

Like I mentioned, we got the Alexa Dot on Prime day in July 2017. I started w/ the dot because of the minimal investment and I wasn’t sure if I would use it or not… but I’m here to tell you that I totally love it. Some of my favorite things about it are the hands free aspect and how easily I can check in on my kids when I’m away from home. I purchased TWO dots so we have one upstairs. What I love about that is that we can easily “drop in” to the updstairs dot and let the kids know it’s dinner time, or have them come down and talk to me or do jobs. 🙂 It’s so much easier (and quieter) than hollering up the stairs! Dropping in is cool… you don’t even have to wait for anyone to answer, you literally “drop in” and start talking and they can hear you (and you can hear them).

ALSO, My kids love playing games with her. She’ll even sing happy birthday if you ask her to. It connects to a ton of apps and let’s you stream music. We’ll use it to set timers for time out or bedtime. And now I wish I had it in my car to help me “jot” things down as I think of them. Alexa does just about anything. She truly can make a mom invincible! Here are just a few of the reasons why I love Alexa…

Awesome Features of Amazon Alexa:

Ask for Help: You can ask Alexa whatever question you have on your mind! She can search the internet and give you whatever answer you are in need of.

Sound Commands: Just by your saying “mute” or “sounds up” you can change the volume of the device just with your voice.

Shopping List: When I am elbows deep in cooking and I use up an ingredient, rather than stopping to write it down on my shopping list, OR thinking that I’ll remember to do it later (which I never do), I simply tell Alexa to add whatever it is to my shopping list. Later when I’m at the store, I can open the Alexa app on my phone and make sure I pick those items up!

Entertainment: You can play music, audiobooks, radio stations, chapter books, or even have her read you your kindle book! Alexa can control all your entertainment needs just by using your voice. My boys love that she will tell you the updates to all the football games then and there! She knows all league standings, final scores, and stats! She can also play music from spotify, pandora, prime music, and more! You can even tell her to give the song a like or a thumbs down!

Link Devices: You can put multiple devices in your house and say “Alexa play top hits in all rooms” and the music will fill the entire house. You can also say, “Alexa play top hits in the living room and Disney music in the toy room” and she will follow your every command.

News: Alexa also knows all the news happening in your local area, your country, and the world! All you have to do is ask her, “Alexa, what is the news?” and she will share all that she knows. She can also tell you the weather forecast while she is at it.

Alarms and Timers: She can be your personal clock! You can set specific alarms, reacquiring alarms (like 5AM every Thursday), or even just timers! Once you put dinner in the oven you can say, “Alexa, set a timer for 45 minutes” and she will do it!  I love to use Alexa as my time out timer. You can ask her the date, the time, and cancel or even snooze your alarms.

Calls and Messaging: This is probably my favorite part of the Amazon Devices. You can call and send texts using your device. That means when my kids are home alone, they can call me anytime! All they have to do is say, “Alexa, call Cathy” and it will call me! This is perfect for elderly people as well because they can get support 24-7 in case there is an emergency.

Academics: Alexa is SUPER smart! She can do math problems, give you definitions, answer the toughest questions, and even teach you how to spell! Just make sure she doesn’t end up doing all your children’s math homework 🙂

Drop In: Drop Ins are awesome! You can literally select a room where a device is placed and have the audio in that room played to you! So you can say, “Alexa, drop in on the boy’s room” and you will be able to hear if they are sound asleep or not. This is super useful when you are out of the house! You can also use it as a way to wake up your kids. Just drop in on their room and say “wake up! time for school!” and they will hear your voice and hopefully get up!

Amazon: Since all of these devices are powered by Amazon, you are able to do just about ANYTHING in Amazon on them. You can reorder essentials, track packages, add things to your shopping cart, buy movies or music, or even ask about the day’s deals! Alexa knows all things Amazon and will help you will all your needs.

To Do List/Reminders: You are able to make a to do list that doesn’t require writing anything down! You can have her remind you of the things you need done (and tell her when to remind you) OR you can just tell her to add things to your list and you can check up on it on your own.

Smart Home: This is something we are slowly building. Basically, as you add smart devices you can control them with your Alexa device! You can turn the lights on, adjust the temperature, lock the door, find your phone, control the TV, connect bluetooth devices, close your garage door, OR even turn on your oven! These are AWESOME tools that could save loads of time!

Jokes and Games: Alexa has a host of jokes and she loves to share them! You can simply just ask her to tell you a joke and she will end up making the entire family laugh. She’ll play Jeopardy with you, take you on a Yeti hunt, and do a whole lot of other fun games. Seriously… she entertains my kids!

As you can see, Alexa has SO many things she can do! I mentioned the majority of them, but they are adding new “skills” to her each and every day! She is getting smarter and will honestly be a huge help in your household! This isn’t just your average speaker, these Amazon Devices are spectacular and can really make a difference in your home.

Gift Idea Alert!!

With Christmas right around the corner, I am TOTALLY getting an Alexa device for my parents! I think I’m going to get one of the larger Echos for our home as well and I’d eventually like to have a Dot in every bedroom. I love the capabilities!!

What Are All The Amazon Devices You May Ask?

There are multiple! Here’s an overview… and then I will explain each one in more detail and give recommendations so you know which device is best for you!

Amazon Echo Devices:

Other Devices:

Most of the devices are very similar! The big differences are usually found in speaker size and quality. Look for the one that you can afford, the one that will look best in your home, and the one that will help you accomplish what your family needs!

Echo Dot $49.99

The Echo Dot is the first Amazon device we got and I personally love it! It is also the most affordable! It is only $49.99 (I’m hoping to see it as low as $35 during Black Friday week)! This little speaker can do just about anything. I shared above all the different ways we use ours (we have two, but will be getting more for all the bedrooms). This has a decent speaker, but if you want loud and rich sound, I’d purchase a different Echo device (with a better speaker) OR connect this to a bluetooth speaker. If you do connect it to a bluetooth, I have found that I need to charge my bluetooth speaker more frequently since it stays in standby mode (never shutting off). If you aren’t worried about sound, or just want to try out Alexa in your life, this one is for you!

The key features of this device are:

  • 0.6″ speaker size
  • Streams Music from Amazon Music, Pandora, or Spotify (via WiFi)
  • Line-out with 3.5 mm cable or Bluetooth
  • Free Audio Calls to US, Mexico, and Canada
  • Controls Smart Devices
  • Always has to be plugged into an outlet

I would recommend this product for kid’s rooms, your first start out Alexa product, or as a super awesome Christmas gift! Everyone needs an Echo Dot in their lives!

Optional Add On: Echo Dot Cases (not required… it just adds more texture to your dot!)

 

NEW Echo (Available November 8th 2017) $99.99

Echo is coming back, new and improved, and will be available on November 8th (Pre order it now!). It now comes in 6 different color (Gray, Oak, Charcoal, Sandstone, Silver, and Walnut) and is extremely visually appealing and the perfect addition to any room. This device has 7 microphones making it easier to hear your voice from anywhere in the room.

The key features of this device are:

  • 2.5″ woofer and 0.6″ tweeter (speaker)
  • Simple set up and compatible with smart phones/ smart devices
  • Streams music from Pandora, Spotify, and Amazon Prime Music
  • Line-out with 3.5 mm cable or Bluetooth
  • Free calls to US, Mexico, and Canada
  • Controls smart devices

I would recommend this one to everyone! It is the perfect addition to any bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, or living room. The colors of this device will blend in perfectly with any home. To save money, get this one for your main living area and then get Echo Dots in your other smaller rooms!

NEW Echo Plus (Available October 31, 2017) $149.99

This is the Echo Device for you if you have multiple Smart Home devices! The Echo Plus allows you to quickly set up every smart home device in your home effortlessly! No need for another hub or app. You can connect this device with multiple other Echo devices throughout the house as well. It comes in 3 different finishes (black, silver, white) and is a super sleek design! Since we are slowly building a smart home, this is the one I will be adding to my home and using in my kitchen/living room area.

The key features of this device are:

  • Includes a built-in smart home hub (the only device with this)
  • 2.5″ woofer and 0.8″ tweeter (speaker)
  • Streams Music
  • Line-out with 3.5 mm cable or Bluetooth
  • Free audio calls to US, Mexico, and Canada
  • Control smart home devices

I would recommend this device is to all my wanna be smart home owners! If you are planning on starting a smart home, or have started one but don’t have a hub yet, this is the device for you!

NEW Echo Spot (Available December 19, 2017) $129.99

 

 

This is one of the coolest Echo creations in my opinion! It is as if you took the Echo Dot and combined it with the Echo Show! The Echo Spot is a mini, more affordable version of the Echo Show actually. The device comes with the normal Alexa benefits but also gives you a webcam and a screen!

The key features of this device are:

  • 1.4″ Speaker
  • 2.5″ Screen
  • Plays Videos from Youtube and Amazon Prime Video
  • Streams Music
  • Line-out with 3.5 mm cable or Bluetooth
  • Free audio calls to US, Mexico, and Canada
  • Controls Smart Devices
  • Easy Set Up

I think this will become the most popular Echo Device upon its release in December. If you have Amazon Prime, I would highly suggest ordering this for your loved ones and with that 2 Day prime shipping, it will show up just in time for Christmas! Pre Order Now! I do hesitate getting this for my kids rooms though… mostly because I don’t want them watching whatever they want on YouTube or Amazon Prime video. Since I monitor things like that pretty strictly, I won’t be getting this particular device in my home.

Echo Show $229.99

This is the most expensive of the Echo Devices, but it can also do the most! It is also the only one with a screen. The Echo Show is the only one that has both video and audio feedback which is amazing because you will not only have to depend on hearing, she can show you things too! It looks AWESOME. With this device, you can not only audio call but also video call! Many people use this as a baby monitor and just simply “drop in” to the nursery to check on the baby from wherever they are! You don’t have to have another Echo Show in order to use one. The Alexa app on your phone will allow you to share camera and view the Alexa show camera. It has the same buttons as the others. A volume up and down button as well as mute switch! There is also a webcam and speakers built right into the device.

The key features of this device are:

  • 2″ speaker and 7″ screen
  • Plays videos from YouTube as well as Amazon Prime Video
  • Streams music from Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon Prime Music
  • Bluetooth
  • Built in webcam
  • Free voice and video calls to Mexico, Canada, and US
  • Controls smart home devices

I would recommend this device to someone to put in your kitchen or living room. If you are going to spend the extra money on it, place it in an area where it will be heavily used so the price is worth it!

Amazon Tap – Alexa Enabled Portable Speaker $129.99

This speaker is different than all the rest because it is portable! The other Amazon devices have to be constantly plugged into the wall. I would recommend this one for all of you who are constantly on the go! This is the perfect speaker for teenagers since they take their music with them wherever they go!

It comes with a charger and just one charge will lasts 9 hours! This speaker has Alexa built in, but you have to tap the button and then speak! Alexa has all the same capabilities that she does in all the other speakers. At times she will be without wifi, so that is when she will pair to your phone or tablet and stream music via bluetooth! This device is awesome!

The key features of this device are:

  • Portable
  • Pairs via bluetooth
  • Streams music
  • Alexa enabled
  • 3.5 audio input plug
  • Comes with charger

I would recommend this one once again, for those who are always on the go! This is awesome for college students, teenagers, and those with tons of energy! This way their Alexa device can follow them everywhere!

Check out these Amazon Tap Slings! They will protect your device while your on the go!

NEW Echo Look (Not yet available) $199.99

This is the echo for ALL my fashionistas who have some extra money to spend. PErsonally I would never buy this… but I’m not THAT into fashion… ha ha, so maybe I actually DO need it. 🙂 But basically this device has a personal webcam that will take selfies of you just by you asking it to do so! It will store all the photos/videos on your phone so you can see exactly how your outfit looks. PLUS, it works just like every other Amazon Device allowing you to access Alexa! Alexa will get you to the weather, your music, answer your questions, and keep you updated. The coolest thing about the Echo Look is that if you are struggling with what to wear, you can take 2 of your photos of outfits and send them to Amazon’s Style Check! They will give you expert style advice and let you know which outfit looks best. On top of all of that, the Echo Look will create a look book so you can remember all your favorite outfits by storing pictures of each one. Do you think I need this? 😉

The key features of this device are:

  • 5MP Camera
  • 1.6 Watt Speaker
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • Access to Style Check
  • Access to Lookbook (found in Echo Look App)

I would recommend this device to all my fashionistas! OR all of you who are wanting to be a fashionista! This device is not yet available, but you can request an invitation via Amazon!

So, which one will you choose?

These Amazon Echo Devices are awesome aren’t they? They are sure amazing to have around the house. But, I have one more products to highlight for you! I want to make sure you know the in’s and out’s to all things Amazon as you prep for the gift giving season!

Here are my final suggestions on which one to buy:

Echo Dot: Buy this one as a Christmas gift or as your first Alexa device if you are unsure on whether Alexa would benefit your family!

Echo Show: If you are wanting more visual capabilities, this is the one for you! This can be a way to video call, stream YouTube, drop in on other rooms (baby monitor), and would be awesome with those who are hard of hearing!

NEW Echo: This would be the go to Christmas gift for me! These are the most visually appealing (in my opinion), would go in any home, and have the new and improved sound system. Everyone will love this Echo!

Echo Plus (New): Buy this one if you are a smart home user! This is the perfect device to use as your smart device hub!

Echo Spot (New): This one will be the most popular in my opinion! If you are wanting visual aid YET don’t want to spend the money to get the Show, BUY THIS ONE!

Echo Look (New): For all my fashionistas! We aren’t sure when this will be released but keep your eyes out!

Comment below and let us know which one (or ones) you’ve added to your Black Friday Shopping List!

Additional Amazon Products:

NEW Fire TV $69.99

If you don’t have one of these, you NEED one! You can enjoy tens of thousands of channels, apps, and Alexa skills with access to over 500,000 movies and TV episodes from Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, and more! Keep in mind though, you must have a subscription to such programs for them to work. This makes it so that your TV becomes an Alexa device… which is pretty dang awesome. It’s fun to tell your TV which shows to watch. AND you can use it like you do the Echo devices and ask Alexa questions, stream music, get a view of the nursery, or call an Uber! This new Fire TV gives higher quality than the one before and comes with the Alexa Voice Remote! It comes with more memory, a different processor, and higher resolution! This is the gift to give everyone! 

Get To Shopping!

Now that you know what all your options are, get to shopping! Pre-order the new devices NOW because they will sell out very quickly! I know that everyone on your Christmas list would enjoy a little lovin’ from Alexa! Amazon Devices are the way to go this Christmas!

Comments

  • Jennifer P.

    Thank you so much for this post! Perfect timing, with the holidays right around the corner. I have been slowly warming up to the idea of Alexa. I am worried that my kids would drive me crazy yelling things at it constantly. Hopefully the novelty would wear off quickly.

    Thanks for all the great info on all of the devices!

    • Cathy

      No problem Jennifer! I knew everyone was wondering what the difference was so I thought it was time to share! I was worried about my kids driving me crazy too, and they will for about 2 days, and then the hype will wear off and it will be totally worth it!

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