Kitz Forum

Computers & Hardware => Other Technologies & Hardware => Topic started by: Weaver on January 16, 2017, 11:58:57 AM

Title: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: Weaver on January 16, 2017, 11:58:57 AM
Has anyone tried the Amazon Alexa voice-controlled thingummy?
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: matt9 on January 16, 2017, 04:24:53 PM
Yes! Indeed! We welcomed Alexa into our home over Christmas and haven't looked back since. We have the dot which is cheaper and the only difference is that it's missing the speaker underneath - but we have our own portable speakers.

So far so good! It's a pretty fun addition to the home. We sync it up to our Spotify account which works very well - despite confusing a few obscure music requests. We're beginning to rely on it for things like alarms, timers and the morning weather forecast. We have found that we need to enunciate our words a bit better, but that never harmed anyone!  :)
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: Chunkers on January 16, 2017, 07:46:52 PM
We have one as well and we think its good fun, if nothing else it makes an excellent hands-free internet radio - we have the full speaker version and the sound quality is not bad considering its size (and I am very fussy about sound)

My son never gets tired of the jokes, insults and I like the instant football scores and fixture info.

Overall, worth it, I would say
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: tickmike on January 24, 2017, 02:31:32 PM
All the personal data and what you do with it goes back to Amazon  :o
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: Chunkers on January 24, 2017, 09:01:56 PM
All the personal data and what you do with it goes back to Amazon  :o

I imagine so, but they already know so much about us anyway it is hardly a deal-breaker for us (we already shop with Amazon, use Amazon Prime)

I could see why more security conscious people might be concerned.  I guess Alexa *could* be listening into our conversations, in which case she will probably commit virtual suicide shortly.

Chunks
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: matt9 on January 25, 2017, 04:30:47 PM
I imagine so, but they already know so much about us anyway it is hardly a deal-breaker for us (we already shop with Amazon, use Amazon Prime)

I could see why more security conscious people might be concerned.  I guess Alexa *could* be listening into our conversations, in which case she will probably commit virtual suicide shortly.

Chunks

I totally agree with Chunks here. Unfortunately not too much is discussed in our kitchen in the mornings though - just stern requests to Alexa!  :D
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: Weaver on January 25, 2017, 08:44:50 PM
A delight to our friends at GCHQ, surely. Think about it.
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: admin on March 01, 2017, 02:23:12 AM
Been thinking about this, as Ive been hankering for one for a while since my cd player broke.   

Is it that much different to Apple's Siri, Androids "OK Google" or Windows Cortana etc?

All of these devices are listening all the time for the activation word. 
Even my car has voice commands for certain things, only difference is that it requires pressing a button on the steering wheel to wake it.
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: admin on March 01, 2017, 02:36:37 AM
I imagine so, but they already know so much about us anyway it is hardly a deal-breaker for us (we already shop with Amazon, use Amazon Prime)

Whats the music/tv choices like on Prime?    I cant seem to find a list of what music is currently available.

As I already spend a fair few quid per year on postage with Amazon, it could be a viable option.   
I just want the basic Prime and don't want to pay the additional 7.99pm for unlimited music.

Do any of you also use it with your existing MP3 collection.  Cant seem to find much info about what devices it will work with.   Currently most of my MP3s are on a network device, but some of my favs are on my phone. 
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: Chunkers on March 01, 2017, 05:28:09 AM
Whats the music/tv choices like on Prime?    I cant seem to find a list of what music is currently available.

Do any of you also use it with your existing MP3 collection.  Cant seem to find much info about what devices it will work with.   Currently most of my MP3s are on a network device, but some of my favs are on my phone.

Its a bit off-topic, but I'll bite :)
Amazon Music streaming service is included free with Prime and includes a large catalog of music but its not 100% as some labels are not available, if you have ever bought music from Amazon it also integrates this into the catalog and works seamlessly with Alexa from what I have seen.
The Amazon video and Amazon Exclusive video streaming includes some excellent entertainment choices and series otherwise not available and the free next delivery is pretty cool. 

We subscribe to both Netflix and Amazon Prime (we don't have Sky) and I happen to think they are both excellent value for the original content and other features.  I might point out also that no-one in our house watches Top Gear, I am not a fan personally, but I know this is also a factor for some people as it has a massive following and might be another reason for some people.

Cheers

Chunks
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: admin on March 01, 2017, 12:04:02 PM
Thankyou :)

Quote
Its a bit off-topic, but I'll bite

The reason I asked is because the Amazon Alexa is anticipated to be mostly be used as a music player and I was trying to look at all the options at how this could be done for streaming - Prime being one of the most obvious ways.

Someone I know has an Alexa uses it with their subscription Spotify account.  However I dont want to subscribe to any more monthly payments which is why I wondered about getting a Prime account and what their basic streaming service was like.   

Looking at my Amazon account over the past year and what Ive paid on postage, Im just slightly over half way to the cost of a Prime account, so it could be the most economical way.  The TV would be a bonus.  As is the fact it also supposedly works with the TP-link smart plug app.

I would think those getting an Alexa who would be using it as a music player would be interested in the various ways that it could be done. 
From what I can see it should be very easy to hook it into my speaker system if I wanted.  It should also easily hook into my TV sound plate but with the Alexa being bluetooth and not wifi,  I dont think there is a way I can directly connect it to my NAS which holds my MP3 collection.....  so back to a streaming service like Prime/Spotify. 

Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: kitz on July 11, 2017, 01:20:15 AM
I've just bit. 

My bro had convinced me how good they were and with a few other family members clubbed together for my b/day so I almost get one.  However very soon after that someone close died, and with having to sort out the funeral etc, then my arm getting worse it got forgotten about.

Until tonight...  when by bro phoned me to let me know its Amazon Prime day.
The Echo has a massive 70 off and there's 15 off the echo dot.  Firesticks have 10 off.

See below for offers.
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: roswellgrey on July 12, 2017, 10:15:11 AM
... snip ....

I would think those getting an Alexa who would be using it as a music player would be interested in the various ways that it could be done. 
From what I can see it should be very easy to hook it into my speaker system if I wanted.  It should also easily hook into my TV sound plate but with the Alexa being bluetooth and not wifi,  I dont think there is a way I can directly connect it to my NAS which holds my MP3 collection.....  so back to a streaming service like Prime/Spotify.

The NAS option, on your own LAN, is complex to say the least due to how the Alexa voice service works with service endpoints.

Another option, though,  is to cough up 22 p.a. to upgrade to the paid Amazon Music Storage Subscription.
By default, you have 250 tracks of free cloud storage for your music.
Upgrading (i.e. paying)  gives you 250K tracks worth of storage.
'Tis a bit dear imho (especially when compared to the 50K free limit on Google Music storage), however it does give you unfettered access to your own music from your echo devices.

Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: Dray on July 12, 2017, 11:29:50 AM
Presumably it's quite simple to setup either Plex or Kodi to play from your NAS an also easy to use the Plex skill or Kodi skill with Alexa
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: roswellgrey on July 12, 2017, 11:35:02 AM
I assumed the requirement was to get the echo to actually play the music, rather than act as a control device for another h/w player. Good point, though
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: kitz on August 11, 2017, 08:56:42 PM
Now Ive got one and am more familiar with how it works I should update on this.
I absolutely love my new toy and over the past month Ive found it to be more capable than I first thought. It's extremely easy to use for daily things such as reminders, news, shopping lists and even just asking it general knowledge type questions.

To answer my own question above.  Their 'free' music service via prime covers most of my albums and favourite artists.  There's only been a couple of the more obscure or less well known bands -such as Jack's Mannequin which isn't on the free list, but it did play many of the songs by Andrew McMahon (who was their lead singer).   

If you do have favourites that arent available for free, you have a couple of options:-
1) You can pair your mobile phone/tablet and play music from there
2) You can upload 250 songs from your PC to your free 'My Music' account.

This means for me its not been a problem and I'm more than happy with the included service.   It will also play 'Music Stations' which offers a wide variety of choices and tastes in music.  If you want all the latest hits and releases though I should imagine you may find those only on the payfor lists.

Alexa learns quite quickly and Ive found the voice recognition better than Google/SVoice/Siri and very intuitive.   I can just say things talking normally and without any emphasis.  My friend & I had some giggles the other day - She has a wolves accent and it had previously only been used to my voice.

The free IPTV is OK.  It does offer a selection of newish movies.  IMHO its never going to beat Netflix, but then again its unfair to compare free -v- a payfor service.   You can upgrade but I haven't as I don't really watch that many films and there is enough in the free section to keep me going for a while if I do get bored.

I also get access to quite a large library of free iBooks but you can pay more for access to a full library.
For those of you on here who tested the TP-link smart plug - it works with that - Much easier to say "Alexa turn on blah" rather than using the TP-link app.

I'm still learning and haven't yet explored all the Alexa Skills as there's thousands of them to choose from.
IMHO best geeky thing Ive bought for a while and if you took it away from me now I really would miss it. 
Title: Re: Amazon Alexa thing - any good?
Post by: Dray on August 11, 2017, 11:07:45 PM
Upon your recommendation for prime day I also purchased an echo dot. I too am impressed by Alexa. Thanks for that :)