Echo Flex Assessment: A $25 plug-it-in Alexa speaker
“Being a stand-alone, absolutely practical Echo speaker, the Echo Flex is a wonderful worth.”
Has audio output jack
An impartial Alexa speaker
Equipment value further
Poor audio high quality
Poor voice recognition
Amazon not too long ago launched a number of new Alexa units, and one of many firm’s most inexpensive new choices is the Echo Flex. The Flex retails for $25, however throughout Cyber Week and different buying occasions, Amazon has been providing the system on sale for a good lower cost. What’s the Echo Flex? What precisely can the Echo Flex do? What options does it boast? Is that this $25 system an appropriate various to bigger, costlier Echo audio system?
Plug it in, plug it in
The Echo Flex comes packaged within an extremely cute little field, and it comprises the Echo Flex speaker and a fast begin information. There aren’t any cords or cables obligatory, as you merely plug the Flex proper into an outlet. After you obtain the Amazon Alexa app to your smartphone and plug the Flex into your wall outlet, you simply comply with the on-screen directions within the app so as to add the Echo Flex speaker.
Nonetheless, if the app doesn’t robotically immediate you to arrange your Echo Flex, you simply faucet the units icon within the app, choose the “+” signal so as to add a tool, select so as to add an Echo Flex, and comply with the on-screen prompts. Total, setup takes lower than 5 minutes.
Erika Rawes/Digital Traits
The Echo Flex speaker is extraordinarily small, measuring solely 2.Eight-inches tall and a couple of.6-inches vast. Not like most Echo audio system which have a cylindrical form, the Echo Flex is box-shaped. It has a USB port on the underside portion the place you’ll be able to join the non-obligatory equipment (extra on that later), and you may even join a charging cable and cost up your telephone.
You may plug the Flex straight into your wall outlet the place it will possibly sit unnoticed. It’s not an excessive amount of greater or any extra noticeable than a typical sensible plug.
On the entrance face of the Echo Flex, there’s an indicator gentle that allows you to know Alexa is listening. There’s additionally an motion button and a microphone off button, so you’ll be able to fully cease Alexa from listening in order for you. On the aspect of the system, there’s a three.5 mm audio output jack.
Full Alexa performance
Amazon has different miniature Alexa units, just like the Echo Enter. However, the Echo Enter requires a separate speaker to function. The Echo Flex is a totally standalone, extraordinarily compact Alexa-enabled system. Alexa’s responses come straight from the Flex, because it has its personal built-in speaker for playback and microphones for voice detection.
The system can management your sensible units, play the information, carry out Alexa expertise, reply questions, and extra. You may even use the Echo Flex to make hands-free calls, use customized expertise you create by Blueprints, handle your schedule, or get the morning visitors report.
Poor audio, and even poorer voice recognition
You may play music on the Echo Flex, simply as you’ll be able to with bigger Echo audio system, however Amazon clearly states within the product’s description that the speaker is “not optimized for music playback.” So, the audio high quality on the Echo Flex isn’t excellent in any respect. Sure, you’ll be able to hear music, and you may hear Alexa’s responses, however the sound isn’t very loud and it lacks depth. It in all probability sounds about nearly as good because the audio system on a mean smartphone. You may, nevertheless, join a extra highly effective speaker through Bluetooth or utilizing the three.5 mm audio output jack.
It’s not optimized for music playback
Though the awful audio may be circumvented by connecting an exterior speaker, there’s nothing to assist out the Flex’s poor speech detection. The Flex’s microphones don’t do an excellent job of listening to instructions until you’re in shut proximity to the system. You often must be inside six to eight toes of the Flex to get it to persistently hear your instructions. That is maybe the system’s greatest flaw.
The Echo Flex is beneficial in areas just like the kitchen or the storage. You may management your sensible lights and use Alexa with out having to shout instructions at one other Alexa speaker in one other room in your house. Should you’re cooking within the kitchen, you’ll be able to ask Alexa questions on measurements and recipes, or have her management your sensible home equipment.
Cool non-obligatory equipment
You should buy non-obligatory equipment which can be uniquely designed for the Echo Flex. They plug straight into the USB port on the underside. The 2 equipment — aand a — develop the system’s options, they usually every retail for $15 (however you’ll be able to generally discover them on sale for $12).
Plug both of them into the underside of the Echo Flex, it robotically acknowledges the accent. There’s just about no setup required. Because the Echo Flex solely has one USB port, you’ll be able to solely use one accent at a time, so you can’t use the sunshine and the movement sensor concurrently (until you’ve got two separate Echo Flex audio system).
Erika Rawes/Digital Traits
The movement sensor is a PIR (passive infrared) sensor. It will probably detect movement as much as 20 toes away, and you may create routines utilizing the sensor. As an example, you’ll be able to have your lights or a fan activate if you enter the room, or you’ll be able to have Alexa play a customized message if you stroll by.
The nightlight additionally connects to the Echo Flex’s USB port, and it options 6 RGB LEDs you’ll be able to management together with your voice or with the Alexa app. You may inform the nightlight to alter colours, modify the brightness degree, or create routines utilizing the sunshine. It additionally has a sensor that robotically turns the nightlight on when it will get darkish, after which turns the sunshine off when it’s daylight.
Erika Rawes/Digital Traits
I examined each equipment as a part of the evaluate, and I discovered myself utilizing the nightlight greater than the movement sensor. The nightlight isn’t super-bright, nevertheless it’s simply vivid sufficient to gentle the best way in pitch darkish. It’s enjoyable to alter the sunshine’s colours from pink to blue to inexperienced, and the sunshine makes the Echo Flex look extra full, and it improves the general aesthetic.
The movement sensor, whereas considerably helpful, operates on a little bit of a delay generally. I set a routine to have the lights activate when the sensor prompts. Nonetheless, it took nearly 45 seconds for the motion to completely happen. The sensor additionally falsely studies movement at occasions due to sure environmental triggers. So, all in all, I’d say the sunshine is extra of a worthwhile addition.
The Echo Flex comes with a 90-day restricted guarantee. Nonetheless, you should buy an prolonged accident safety guarantee from Sq. Commerce for between $three and $Eight that covers the system for as much as three extra years.
Being a standalone, absolutely practical Echo speaker that retails for $25, the Echo Flex is an especially good worth. Though it doesn’t provide stellar voice-recognition or sound high quality, the system nonetheless has its deserves as an additional speaker for placement in rooms like garages, bedrooms, and kitchens.
Is there a greater various?
That relies upon. The Echo Dot is a extra highly effective system when it comes to its sound high quality. It has 4 far-field microphones to choose up your voice, and it has a considerably bigger driver for playback. Nonetheless, the Echo Dot is designed for positioning on a floor, as a substitute of in a wall outlet. The Dot additionally retails for $50, which is double the value of the Flex.
How lengthy will it final?
Amazon updates its … rather a lot. The corporate continues to come back out with increasingly Alexa units, so the Alexa app probably isn’t going anyplace for a very long time. The corporate additionally seems to be focusing extra on inexpensive audio system and shows. The Echo Present 5, Echo Present Eight, Echo Dot with Clock, and Echo Enter are all examples of such inexpensive Echo choices.
Based mostly on what we’ve seen from Amazon over the previous few years, historical past tells us the corporate will probably come out with a brand new or completely different model of the Echo Flex. However, this doesn’t imply the corporate with discontinue assist for the Echo Flex anytime quickly. You may confidently buy the system, and it ought to final you for fairly some time. The Echo Flex is well-made general, and it shouldn’t randomly break with out purpose.
Do you have to purchase it?
Sure. Should you’re on the lookout for an ultra-entry-level sensible speaker, or for those who’re trying so as to add one other Alexa speaker to your property, the Echo Flex is an efficient selection.