alexa Gets smarter

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - TEST BENCH -

AMA­ZON has spruced up its Alexa-pow­ered (the voice as­sis­tant) smart speaker range. We tested the top-of-the­line Echo Plus and were quite im­pressed. Set­ting it up is easy. Con­nect the speaker us­ing the Alexa app to the home Wi-Fi network, and you are good to go. Ask Alexa about the weather or to play a par­tic­u­lar song, and Alexa will swiftly oblige. Ama­zon has equipped Alexa with close to 10,000 skills that are to be ac­ti­vated from within the app. Some of the ‘skills’ in­clude book­ing a cab on Uber and Ola, or­der­ing food on Food­panda, check­ing ESPN circinfo for cricket scores and In­dia To­day for news. The Echo Plus comes with a built-in hub to con­trol com­pat­i­ble smart light­ing and ap­pli­ances. We tested this fea­ture with the Philips Hue smart bulb. On say­ing, “Alexa, dis­cover de­vices” aloud, it started search­ing for com­pat­i­ble de­vices and added them un­der Smart Home on the app in 45 sec­onds. Once con­nected, I was able to turn on/ off the Philips Hue, and also com­mand Alexa to change the colour of the LED.

Alexa recog­nises Indian ac­cents well and gets bet­ter at it with use. At an in­tro­duc­tory dis­counted price of 10,499, the Echo Plus is a good buy. But if you are not plan­ning to in­vest in smart home ap­pli­ances or switches, you should con­sider the slightly af­ford­able Echo Dot or Echo.

Price ` 10,499

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