Amazon Echo - any interest?

Amazon Echo is being released in the UK at the end of the month, and anyone that places an order for one before 5pm on Friday will get a £50 discount.

I’m wondering if anyone here is interested in jumping into this particular tech pool, and their thoughts on it as a device at this point in time.

I have to admit, part of me really wants to dive right in and have a swim around, to see what’s possible - but £100 isn’t exactly pocket change. There’s also the fact I have Sonos already, meaning the speaker part of it is somewhat wasted on me (although, I could take my £100 and split it between two dots, one for the living room and another for the bedroom).

I’m interested in your thoughts on this - both from people who are going to get one (why?) and people who have no interest (why not?)

Oooh. I have Sonos as well, but I think I’d get another of them. I have a pretty hefty network share of music, and I couldn’t use it on the Echo without uploading it to Amazon Music (which has a 250 song limit on the free tier :confused: ).

Yep! I preordered one as soon as they were available - To me this is a device that will be able to tie up all of the various IoT bits and pieces sitting around, and which seems fairly extensible so I can hook it up to other APIs myself. I tried doing the same thing before with SiriProxy but that was pretty lacklustre, from what I hear the Echo and Alexa are far better.

This is an interesting difference between us - I have no local music at all, instead relying upon Spotify (and TuneIn Radio).

I’ve been very close to cancelling Spotify for a while (which I would have done already, if not for the fact I’m getting it for free with Vodafone right now), favouring Deezer because I prefer their system for building a library, and their better support in the Sonos app - but the recent news that it’ll soon be possible to control Sonos directly from the Spotify app makes me rethink this.

I buy a lot of stuff from Bandcamp etc (i.e. not on streaming services), and don’t want to rule out a fancy audiophile type setup at some point in the future, so I have a lot of lossless files that I’d want to play… I’ve just never got on with the idea of streaming services, tbh.

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This is somewhat how I’m thinking of it, but I don’t know just how much support it has for extending its functionality. I understand it has IFTTT support, which combined with a Raspberry Pi and the maker channel should offer quite a lot of flexibility - but I’m a bit concerned about being siloed in - i.e. if I do go down the Alexia route, then I’m stuck with whatever services are compatible (i.e. no Deezer, like mentioned in my previous post).

One other thing which I like about the Echo is the audible support. This is something which has been missing from Sonos for far too long, and now that my commute is reduced to a single day each week, I’m listening to it far less (and as I don’t have a Bluetooth speaker, and the speakers on my phone are crap, I don’t want to have to wear my headphones indoors).

One other thing I think worth mentioning is the ability to build your own Echo using a Raspberry Pi. From what I understand, this will work in exactly the same way as the Echo, except for the fact you’re not allowed to have it always listening, and instead you have to physically press a button to activate the microphone.

I think building something like this could be a fun weekend project, but right now my weekends are taken up building my robot, so this would have to wait.

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How open is this? I can see that it’s an integrated speaker and mics to connect to an Amazon AI service but do I need one from every service provider? That’s just silly. I’d like to be able to talk to Google and Apple too, by name.

My Microsoft web cam has a mic and just started working with Ubuntu Linux for pictures again. I didn’t try the mic. Open source voice routing?

No idea, you’d have to read the specs for the service. I don’t think it’ll be particularly open, however.

That said, (I think) I know you can hook other services into it, which you refer to as a third entity, for example:

“Alexa, tell Home Assistant to turn the living room lights on.”

So while it might not be open, I’ve got a feeling you should be able to do quite a lot with it, if you’re willing to put the effort in.

No. “Voice Home, turn the lights on” or “Voice Alexa, I want to buy toys”. I want to own Voice.

Mac OS X has Siri now.

I guess you’re going to be out of luck then, at least with Echo. Take a look at Mycroft.

My Mycroft should be arriving soon, so I’ll report back then :grinning:

Loosely related: is anyone using voice to text software? Back in the Dark Ages you could buy an analogue voice recorder with Dragon for about £100. My phone will record or my tablet or my PC. Dragon is now £300. Siri, Google & Amazin do it free. Is there any Free software that will transcribe notes taken while walking when I get home?

…I should probably have scrolled down from the Mycroft ordering page.

No I Shouldn’t. Google gave me a different page

What is it? Open source software on a Pi? Can I just buy the sticker?

On paper, at least, Mycroft seems to have far better support, and being open source, you’re free to tinker as you so desire - but I’m concerned it won’t get the exposure needed to make it truly successful.

I only know about it because it was spoken about on Bad Voltage.

I’m not vastly interested in the speaker as a way of playing my music - I’ve not got much on Amazon music myself, and I dunno if Echo will allow you to stream from other sources easily. What I am really interested in is their Siri/Cortana/Google Now-alike AI voice recognition system, which Amazon have opened up for other people to include in their own apps & gadgets. From what I hear it is way better to use than either Google voice search, Cortana or Siri.

How’s the voice recognition on Mycroft? Is it up to par with these I wonder? Might be worth creating a Mycroft box or two with the Amazon voice technology.

With less than 2 hours before the discount deadline, I’ve just placed my order for one. I’m interested to see what it can do, and I’m only really going to be able to find that out by getting one.

It would be interesting to do a proper comparison between the Echo and Mycroft, if @sil is interested in working on such a thing with me? I’m thinking it would be cool to create a bunch of tasks for each of them complete, to see how well they do them.

Happy to! I suspect that Mycroft’s speech recognition will be bobbins, but we’ll find out :slight_smile:


I guess the first thing then (other than waiting for the things to arrive), is to come up with a bunch of tasks. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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