I read a recent article in The Guardian about Amazon Echo, the nondescript black obelisk that sits in your home and caters to your every whim and question and pushes you further into the Amazon cult. I thought I’d give a quick opinion on my former relationship with Alexa, the female voice that embodies Echo.
Full disclosure: I am in love with Amazon. I order stuff from them at least once a week. I got the Echo at a deeply discounted rate as an early-adopting Prime member. It was great. You talk to Alexa in casual language and she answered most queries accurately. Much better than the absolutely horrendous Siri. All was well and good. I had her play NPR’s national top-of-the-hour news when I was getting ready for work and she played music too.
However, that’s when the coolness ended. Sound quality, although decent, wasn’t anything compared to my Sonos Play:5. On top of that, you soon realize that Echo listens to everything. Sure, Alexa is only supposed to really listen and respond when you say her name, but can we really be certain? Echo’s code is closed-source, and Amazon, as great as they are when buying random crap late at night, have one goal in mind: to be the only place where you buy things. To do that, they want to know what you think about buying, what you discuss buying, et cetera. It was this reason, along with it’s redundancy in my home audio system, that caused me to sell Echo on eBay at a huge profit.
Yeah, Echo is a cool tool that has had many other features added to it, like IFTTT and smart home features, but at it’s core, it’s a salesperson. I don’t like salespeople coming into my home.