Social Media / Technology Committee
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by Pat Hoover
Alexa is GREAT!
This column will try to explain the many uses I have taken on with the amazing Amazon Alexa. My hope is that Alexa can make your life a little easier. The setup is very easy, but if you encounter problems, the Alexa customer support reps are available 24/7.
The unbelievably modest price point and the ease of use of the Amazon Alexa devices compared to the cost of other personal digital assistants rates Alexa as the top dog. During the holiday sales, you could purchase the Amazon Echo Dot for $20. The Dot has a crappy little speaker, but pairs easily with other speakers either thru Bluetooth or direct wire, and offers nearly all of the robust features of the more expensive better built-in speaker Alexa devices. As for the software and the ability to understand your voice commands, questions, and messages, there is no question that Alexa has a far superior ability across the board. With its advanced, mature and continually improved voice detection, Alexa’s understanding and its evolving artificial intelligence (AI), beats Siri and Google on every feature.
A few years ago, jealous of my friend’s Amazon Echo device, I bought one of the then-new Amazon Dots. It was fun, but having multiple Alexa devices has opened up the machine in remarkable ways I’d never imagined. I had always wanted a whole-house Sonos-like music system but I couldn’t justify the significant cost. Alexa gives me the same experience, while using the Alexa devices paired with a few old, but still great sounding, speakers. Streaming music, or more recently the news and the historic impeachment hearings, to multiple speakers in different rooms sounds great. If you’ve visited my home over the holidays, you have heard the same holiday music playing from the front door to the family room, to the kitchen and to the garage, all synchronized and coordinated as one. So cool and better yet, so affordable.
Guess what … waking to music alarms, getting a rundown on the days weather, hearing my daily appointment schedule and listening to my emails and text messages, all while dressing for the day, is awesome! Alexa is also great at opening my garage door, turning on and off the lights, changing the thermostat settings, getting the evening cable and sporting events offerings and far, far more. And now for the car, the new ($20 on sale) Alexa Auto gives driving directions, sets reminders and reads my ebooks and newspapers, etc. Hearing Alexa stream my music thru any of the several different music services (without added cost) including Apple Music’s gazillion songs...well it’s been a really great experience. And no, I’m not afflicted with some condition where I must have the accessibility features of Alexa, but it’s sure nice to keep both hands on the wheel when driving (Maryland law forbids anything but voice use of a cell phone when driving). So you get me - Alexa is a real boon, inexpensive and very sophisticated providing amazing functions. Next time I’ll explain how Alexa excels on the job. Try it!
February 13, 2020
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