Tuesday, September 20, 2022

What Is Amazon Echo Flex

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The Standard Amazon Echo

Echo Flex Review and Where to Use It

This Echo is the standard smart speaker first released by Amazon, the flagship model that would define all others and introduce Alexa to the world. Its also the model that has gone through the most changes.

The first Echo was released in 2014 to select Amazon members, with the company rolling it out to general consumers the following year. According to reports, when Jeff Bezos learned that the key to voice assistants was getting latency down to a more conversational level, he ordered the Alexa team to reduce latency to one second something that had never been done with voice assistants at that time . Once they reached that goal, the first Echo was ready for the market.

1st Gen: This model sported a bare, cylindrical appearance with the indicator light on top and the speakers on the bottom. It included a seven-piece microphone set to pick up voice commands, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities, and a 360-degree speaker setup.

2nd Gen: The second-generation Echo, released in 2016, exchanged the bare design for a fabric covering , as well as a shorter, thicker cylinder. The 0.6-inch tweeter and 2.5-inch subwoofer offered improved audio.

3rd Gen: In 2019, Amazon introduce the 3rd generation of the Echo, which softened the design with a more rounded profile and again improved the speakers and technology.

What Are The Drawbacks Of The Amazon Echo Flex

At this point you might be thinking that the Echo Flex is something of a no-brainer. After all, it has most of the functionality of its larger counterparts, and is a fraction of the price. However, where it comes unstuck is with its speaker. The Flex houses a rather small 0.6-inch speaker, which is fine for spoken audio, such as news and weather reports, and confirming instructions, but really not great for music. Amazon does point out in its advertising that this device is not intended to be a music player, and it ain’t wrong.

Naturally we gave it a shot anyway. Firing up a 90s rock playlist on the device made the Red Hot Chilli Peppers sound like a lilliputian band performing from inside a saucepan. This budget device wont get the party started, but we reckon its fine for podcasts at a pinch, handy if you want something to listen to while youre in the kitchen or working in the garage.

There is a 3.5mm auxiliary output on the Flex, so you do have the option of connecting it to a beefier speaker. If you invested in speaker equipment already and you’re happy with the sound quality, then attaching the Echo Flex is a canny way of turning them smart without having to spend a fortune.

The only other complaint we have is regarding the companion app for the Flex. This is the standard Alexa app, and it could use a little more care. Navigation is something of a chore, and it feels like there are too many taps to get to the options for the device.

Amazon Echo Flex: The Verdict

So, should you buy the Flex? Really, it depends on what your current set up is. If you dont have any smart speakers installed in your home, wed suggest the Echo Dot as a great starting point. Sure its a little more expensive than the Flex, with a price tag of $50, compared to the Flexs $25, but its regularly discounted to around $35, and the 1.6-inch speaker makes it a much more viable entertainment product.

However, if you already own an Echo or two, the Echo Flex is a worthy addition to your set up, allowing you to extend Alexas reach in your home without too much expense. Its certainly a neat device for the price, assuming you can live with the feeble speaker.

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Benefits Of The Echo Flex Over Other Echo Products

By now, everyone knows about Amazons Echo and Echo Dot, but a newer addition is the Echo Flex. Despite how the name sounds, its not some type of flexible cable or cord version. However, its a more convenient option for adding Alexa to your home or adding on to your current Echo setup.

Where Can I Use Amazon Echo Flex

Amazon Echo Flex

You might wonder why youd buy a smart device like Flex if its not meant for music listening. There are a few situations where Flex can be helpful:

  • Add it where you need smart home connectivity, but you dont have furniture, a shelf or counter space available
  • Place it in the basement to ask Alexa to turn lights on or off as you head down
  • Use it in the laundry room when your hands are full
  • Plug it in the kitchen to set recipe timers or to add food to your grocery list
  • Use it in the garage to get Alexa to turn the lights on in the house as youre heading inside
  • Try it in a high traffic hallway or near the door to call out for all the lights to be turned on or off as you enter or leave
  • Place it somewhere you dont want wires trailing to your Echo speaker or Dot, like a workshop, bathroom, or small kitchen
  • Broadcast announcements like calling out dinners ready without screaming all over the house, or drop in using Amazons Drop In intercom feature which turns Echo devices into speakerphone-radios.

The Echo Flex has a built in USB port in the bottom. You can use it to connect devices for charging, or plug in one of Amazons accessories, like the motion sensor or night light.

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No Cables To Deal With

If you hate trying to hide cables, its tricky to find the perfect place to add your Echo device. You have to make sure the cables long enough to reach or try to bunch up excess cable for shorter distances. With the Flex, there arent any cables to deal with at all. As an added bonus, if you have small kids or pets, there arent cables for them to mess with, and the Flex can cover an outlet, protecting curious little fingers.

Overall, the Echo Flex is a great addition to the Echo line. While it wont make your music sound great, you can still hear Alexa clearly throughout a room. Plus, the convenience alone makes it a good way to expand Alexa through your home.

Echo Flex Review: Plugging A Gap

The Echo Flex literally plugs a gap but can you have too many Echo devices?

It doesnt take a genius to infer that Amazons Echo series of smart speakers is doing well. Not only has Alexa entered into pop culture but the company has an implausible number of spinoffs from the Echo Show to the dinky Dot, alongside buttons, inputs, a clock and a subwoofer for added bass.

Generally, theyve been sensible additions that bring something new to the table, or at least introduce a form factor that appeal to a new niche people. Does the Echo Flex continue that trend or has Amazon finally gone too far?

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Amazon Echo Flex What I Like

The Echo Flex is a product that I’ve been waiting on for a long time. As an early Alexa convert who purchased the very first Echo in late 2014, I always thought it would be great to have one of these in my garage for when I’m not inside but still want access to Alexa. And you know what? I was right, I use this thing all of the time!

Just the other day a reminder popped up on my Echo Show 5 to clean out the garage, and I was like groan! But when I remembered the Echo Flex was out there, it wasn’t so bad. I got my Flash Briefing while I broke down a bunch of Amazon boxes we can address my problem at another time, okay? then I listened to a little holiday music while I swept the garage floor, and even asked Alexa to remind me to finish this article while I took out the trash. And I may have ordered more Topo Chico when I glanced in the garage fridge, but don’t tell my wife!

The Echo Flex works just like any other Echo, with an easy set up in the Alexa app, and all of the same functionality you’ve come to expect from other Amazon devices. It has a speaker, albeit underpowered, and two microphones so that Alexa can hear your requests. You can use the device to control your smart home, answer questions, set reminders and timers, and even listen to audio entertainment in a pinch.

Category
Mute buttonAsk Alexa to delete recordings

I hope the next generation of the Echo Flex brings more smart attachments.

What Can’t The Amazon Echo Flex Do

Amazon Echo Flex Review- Should I buy it?

Now, we said you can get the full Echo experience with Echo Flex, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get the best experience. The speaker on this thing is very tinny and should only be used when there isn’t a lot of background noise. Don’t expect to plug the Flex into your bathroom outlet and hear it while you’re in the shower. We tried that no bueno. So, we swapped it out for an Echo Dot and that was the way to go.

For reference, the Echo Dot has 1.6-inch speaker compared to the 0.6-inch on the Flex. Echo Flex also does not support Dobly technology. If you want that, get the Echo or Echo Plus, both of which support Dolby Audio. There’s also the Echo Studio, which supports Dolby Atmos.

You should also know that the Echo Flex doesn’t support Zigbee, which means it doesn’t have a built-in smart home hub to let you control light bulbs, door locks, in-wall switches, sensors, and plugs, etcetera, without the need for separate hubs or a smart home Skill. Amazon does offer other Echo devices with Zigbee support, however, such as the Echo Plus and the Echo Show. But those cost quite a bit more than Flex.

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Amazon Echo Flex Design

In my opinion, the best smart home technology is nearly invisible to the untrained eye. Thats why Im so fascinated by the Echo Flex. Only taking up a couple of inches, it plugs into any indoor power outlet, providing you with a smart speaker that doesnt take up much space. Like I said, it has a USB port on its face, which is incredibly convenient. On the bottom of the Echo Flex, you can either attach a night light or a motion sensor, ideal for homes with children to protect at night.

Connecting to your phone via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the Echo Flex comes in white and measures only 2.8 inches across as its widest. The speaker is a mere .6 inches, but unfortunately, theres no Dolby technology, which helps limit data usage for sound. Basically, the Echo Flex is the smart speaker at its most stripped down, but for $24.99, I can get behind that.

Of course, Im not naive. I know that Amazon has had its fair share of privacy issues, and the idea of putting a smart speaker thats always listening for its wake word is more than a little reminiscent of 1984. However, I am pleased that the Echo Flex has a button to turn the microphone off, electronically disconnecting your microphones. Whatever you want to talk about, you can rest assured that if you dont want it to, your Echo Flex will not be listening.

Overall Thoughts On Amazon Echo Flex

Overall Im a fan of Amazons Echo smart devices. Theyre smart, reliable, handy and they control my smart home well. This is another blade in Amazons Swiss Army knife of smart home connected gadgets, allowing you to place an Echo in places that werent possible before now.

Echo Flex is also the least expensive Echo on the market making it a great starter gadget if youre wondering is getting a smart speaker-digital assistant is worth it.

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Its All About The Attachments

The attachments, the attachments, the attachments. These truly make the Echo Flex experience noteworthy. The Flex itself is super compact and plugs right into a standard outlet. Its a rather unassuming design with a sturdy plastic build dosed in a bland white paint job.

The USB-A port lives at the bottom and is where you can power another device through a cable. Its handy for charging an iPhone or Echo Buds, but its also where you can directly plug in the made-for-Flex attachments. These small rectangular pieces are also made out of plastic and fit snugly onto the bottom, essentially extending the length by about an inch, and they match the thickness of the Echo Flex.

The newest attachment, launching nearly a year after the Flex was announced, is the Smart Clock. Its kind of confusing, as , but its still where the Flex shines. You add it to the bottom and youre done. As long as the Flex is up to date, its an easy way to check the time, monitor alarms and even set a timer. We found ourselves using this combo with the Echo Dot with Clock in a closet, or even plugged into a backsplash behind a countertop. It calls less attention to itself than the Dot with Clock, its cheaper and you dont have to worry about cable management.

Echo As Criminal Evidence

Amazon Echo Flex review

During the course of the investigation into the November 22, 2015 death of Victor Collins in the home of James Andrew Bates in Bentonville, Arkansas, police sought the data stored on the Amazon Echo on the premises as evidence, but were refused by Amazon. The conflict was resolved when Bates consented to the release of his personal information that was held by the company.

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Where Would You Use Amazon Echo Flex

You might wonder what good a smart device like Flex would be if its not meant for music listening. There are a few special use-cases for Flex:

  • Place it in an area you need smart home connectivity, but you dont have furniture, a shelf or counter space available
  • Use it in the basement to ask Alexa to turn lights on or off as you head down
  • Use it on the laundry room when your hands are full
  • Use it in a kitchen to set recipe timers or to add items to your grocery list
  • Use it in the garage to get Alexa to turn the lights on in the house as youre heading inside
  • Try it in a high traffic hallway or near the door to call out for all the lights to be turned on or off as you enter or leave
  • Place it somewhere you dont want wires trailing to your Echo speaker or Dot, like a workshop, bathroom, or small kitchen
  • Broadcast announcements like calling out dinners ready without screaming all over the house, or drop in using Amazons Drop In intercom feature which turns Echo devices into speakerphone-radios.

The Echo Flex also has a built in USB port in the bottom. You can use it to plug in devices for charging, or add one of Amazons accessories, like a motion sensor or night light.

Amazon Echo Flex Specs

Editors’ Note: This is still the most recent version of the Echo Flex. Read our original review from November 27, 2019 below.

The offers all of Alexa’s voice control features and surprisingly good sound in a tiny, $50 package, but even that can get a little pricey if you want to spread Alexa to every room of the house. That’s where the Echo Flex comes in. The Flex is a $24.99 smart speaker that plugs directly into a power outlet and lets you access Alexa pretty much anywhere, like a bathroom, laundry room, or garage. It’s wonderfully affordable and functionaljust don’t expect much in the way of audio power.

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Amazon Echo Flex Should You Buy It

Okay, so that got dark quickly, but I didn’t really mean for it to! I still lean towards seeing the positive side of having smart virtual assistants like Alexa in our lives, but I do think we should all continue to talk about how this relationship between smart humans and smart assistants should evolve.

4.5out of 5

As far as smart virtual assistants go, I think that they can be most helpful in our utility spaces, and that is just what the an Alexa speaker like the Echo Flex is for. If you are interested in smart home technology or automation at all, then the Echo Flex is a great little device to have where you need it. It is not perfect and it still has some room for improvement, but it’s a first-generation product that I’m sure will get even better and more useful in the years to come. If you have a garage, laundry room, or mud room, I recommend you pick one up along with one of the attachments to make your life just a little bit easier.

What Is Echo Flex

Amazon Echo Flex Blogger Review

Echo Flex is part software, part hardware.

To define this device, it pays to look at what Echo Flex isnt.

The utilitarian box isnt a smart plug since it doesnt smarten up other devices.

To call this unit a smart speaker would be stretching the definition. We make no secret here at Smarthome that most smart speakers woefully underperform on the audio front. Echo Flex certainly isnt a primary listening device. If youre more interested in the soundscape, the forthcoming Echo Studio will replicate surround sound.

While Echo Flex might superficially look like a powerline adapter, it wont do anything to strengthen your internet connection either.

So, if its not a smart plug and its not a smart speaker, what is Echo Flex?

What will it do and why should you add it to your shopping list?

Heres where it gets interesting and heres where Amazons USP really is a unique selling point.

As an added kicker, theres a full-sized USB port in the bottom enabling you to charge your phone or tablet without sacrificing another outlet. Theres also space for accessories to slot onboard. Well glance at this modular aspect below in more detail. In many ways, this is the most exciting element of Echo Flex. For us, its more about what this device could be than what it is when it comes out of the box.

Well walk you through the basics of the simple but effective Echo Flex so you can decide whether youll be pre-ordering.

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