I had mentioned before that we are enjoying our Amazon Echo, one of those robots that listens and then responds with a certain degree of intelligence.
We don't use the Echo for very many things, but that is partly because we are not in the habit. For example, if I'm sitting in a certain chair in the library, reading, I have to stand up and turn around and kind of bend over in a certain direction to see the clock on the wall. Or, I can say, "Alexa, what time is it?" and the Echo Dot tells me. But, I almost never think of asking Alexa. But over time I'm sure I'll get in the habit, and after that, stop moving around as much. Which will ultimately lead to atrophy about the time the robots take over, which I assume is their plan.
I use Alexa's shopping list, we ask it questions one might as Google Assistant (but Google Assistant is much more likely so far to come up with the answer). Alexa has a large number of useful information and entertainment services, which we are using more and more, such as getting a news update, the weather, and so on.
In any event, I recommend giving Alexa a try, and if you happen to have an Internet Of Things devices, then you simply have to pepper your home with dots and stop moving entirely.
But, the reason you don't want to just go out and buy an Echo or related device at this moment is because Amazon just came out with a new line of them. Here is some basic information to help you get oriented. Then, if you pick the second generation Echo as your first Alexa device, go for it, otherwise, I might wait until the other devices are out for a few weeks to see how people like them.
If you want to cut to the chase, CLICK HERE to see a page at Amazon.com with the details, including a product grid to help you pick out which robot you want to have as your new overlord.
The Echo Dot (2nd Generation) is your basic entry level device. It has an adequate speaker but not really good enough for music, but it also has an output you can hook to your own speakers. Your first device should be this inexpensive dot. Then, later, if you want to upgrade to a fancier device, you can still use this one as a second device say, in your garage or bathroom or somewhere.
The Second Generation Echo is essentially the Echo Dot sitting on top of a high quality speaker, and runs about twice the cost of the Echo dot.
The new Echo Plus includes a hub from which to run your smart home devices, has a somewhat better sound system than the Echo 2nd gen, and is slightly larger. This will cost you fifty another fifty bucks, so now we are up to $150, but since it includes the hub it is probably worth it.
The new Echo Spot is Echo Dot size but with a screen, small at 2.5", but possibly useful. This is not cheaap ($129). The sound quality sis probably better than the traditional Dot. It does not have the hub.
The top of the line is the Echo Show. This has top speakers, a 7 inchs screen, and blue-tooth only audio output (all the others have plug in audio output).
All these devices can control smart home items, and allow free audio calls between people with Echos across North America. They all stream music, etc. using the services that you may or may not have such as Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, etc.
I'm not sure that I personally grok the combination of devices. Maybe I want a hub that is separate and inexpensive. Maybe I want a screen that is 7 inches or so to wall mount but it is only an output screen, but it can sit near my front door and tell me the weather, something about traffic, and if the garage door is open. I'll have to think about it.
For now I'll stick with my dot, and keep playing around with home made devices and robots until I see how it goes.
The big question for YOU is which device to get if this is your first one. I would recommend the Echo Dot then see how it goes, just to be conservative.
However, make sure you get a second generation Echo Dot, or Echo.
Also, Amazon is currently running a promotion where you can get the Echo Dot plus a Fire TV stick (which is roughly like a Roku, I believe) for about 90 bucks, which is cheap.. And, you can browse around for certified refurbished devices which will save you typically ten or twenty percent. Not a huge savings but they are certified.
One other thing to consider -- whether you are already in the Amazon echo system.
We don't have Amazon Prime (I order some fountain pen ink from Amazon occasionally, but that's it), don't subscribe to their music or video services, etc. I'm not sure that I would even if I had an Echo (and I know they're good devices from feedback here and from friends who do have one or more).
I have a Google Home -- I use (don't subscribe, however) their music and entertainment system. It is linked to my calendar, etc, and will cast to a tv and to a chromecast. Google has small versions coming out soon.
It's interesting watching Amazon and Google fight back and forth over this. It's the technology version of Godzilla vs Mothra.
So which one is best?
An Echo in the bathroom?? All your other devices will start displaying for you ads of woopie cushions.
uXDT is the practice of advertisers hiding ultrasounds in their ads. When the ad plays on a TV or radio, or some ad code runs on a mobile or computer, it emits ultrasounds that are picked up by the microphone of nearby laptops, desktops, tablets or smartphones.
SDKs embedded in apps installed on those devices relay the beacon back to the online advertiser, who then knows that the user of TV "x" is also the owner of smartphone "Y" and links their two previous advertising profiles together, creating a broader picture of the user's interests, device portfolio, home, and even family members.
Orwell was wrong, Huxley was right. The way to enslave humans isn't by threatening them with pain, but by enticing them with pleasure or at least laziness. So: you're going to invite Big Brother into your home, cameras as well as microphones, so you don't have to turn your head to look at a clock, or get your derriere out of your chair to flip a light switch. That's just PATHETIC.