This was the year Amazon went all-in on Alexa. September saw the announcement of a new echo note, show and plus, a subwoofer, an audio input device, an auto dongle and an amplifier. It would have been a lot, but the company also began to dip its toes to the other side of things.
2018 also found Amazon to experiment in the connected device category – namely a microwave and wall clock (oh and a song fish too). There is a strange feature on it. After all, there are countless companies that guard a small piece of that mindshare.
But Amazon has a few important things to do for it. For one, the company derives from construction products that exist exclusively to complement the Echo units. For another, it is able to sell products at ̵
The echo wall is distributed quite a lot for both of these factors. It is $ 30 unit that is actually useless without an Alexa device. In fact, Alexa is required to set the time. There is a disadvantage in the random coincidence you happen to have along one of these products without an echo nearby. But it's convenient when it comes to setting up.
Find a location within 30 feet of a compatible device (Echo, Dot, View, Plus, E Spot or Input.). Open your back. Pop in four AA batteries (included). Tell Alexa, "Set up my echo clock." Hold the small blue button on the back of the headlight becomes a kind of vibrant orange. Alexa wants to go to work, and when everything is good to go, the light turns blue.
Initially, I tried to configure the device in the office Wi-Fi. Never a good idea with these types of linked products. Large corporate networks are a crapshoot and the two devices were off again. Assuming you have a similar setup, you will want to keep the Wall Clock (and, for that matter, most Alexa devices) at home.
When I switched to a personal network (via a MiFi), it went much more smoothly. Alexa will set the clock to your time zone. Bonus: It will automatically fall back and come forward when there is a time change – certainly a leg on most wall clocks.
There are a few things worth noting here, before we go any deeper. First: The wall clock is, for lack of a better expression, cheap to see. It's big and it's plasticky. There is no front glass. It is honestly the type of design you expect from a wall clock made by Amazon. There is no razzle blend here. It's a simple-looking watch with a simple design. The result is that it is minimalist enough to fit in most living rooms and kitchens.
This simplicity also extends to the function set, which is currently mostly limited to timers. The 60 minute markers that stretch the edge are actually all individual LEDs. Tell Alexa to say, "seen a 10-minute timer" and 10-minute hands will light up and then become individually dark to count down the time. When the countdown is over, the entire diameter will flash slowly until you tell Alexa to stop.
And that's it. Timers and alarms. The wall clock is one of the first passive Alexa devices from Amazon. Your echo really makes all the heavy lifting, including listening and talking. You can't say, ask the clock for the time or the weather, and therefore you need an echo nearby. It also does not sound when the alarm goes off. Of course, it means a cheaper price – and much longer battery life.
The echo clock is not a necessary device, but it may prove to be a practical one. If you cook a lot, for example, it's nice to have a great visual reference in addition to Ekko's built-in timers. Beyond that, however, I struggle to come up with too many scenarios where it feels indispensable. And honestly, I don't hold my breath in the expectation that Amazon will bring more to the table here.
The device succeeds more as a proof of the concept of ways Alexa and compatible devices can push the boundaries of the smart home. There is nothing particularly convincing here for most consumers – but at $ 30, maybe it doesn't have to be.