Smart Home products are all the rage. How would you like a Smart Car, too? Not the boxy two-seater, but instead a device that gives any car a hands-free infotainment system that goes far beyond a GPS.
Amazon’s Echo Auto is the latest addition to the roster of hands-free devices designed to make life easier, bringing Amazon’s Alexa right into your car. It’s marked down to $15 for Prime Day, from its regular price of $50. So, it’s a deal. But is it worth it? We’re going to break it down for you; what it is and what it does, so that you can decide if this is one of those “I gotta have it” gadgets.
What Is Amazon Echo Auto?
Amazon Echo Auto is a tiny device that mounts on your vehicle’s air vent and connects to the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone. You can have the benefits and convenience of Alexa, directly through your car’s speakers. It connects via Bluetooth to your phone, or via the auxiliary jack to your car’s stereo system.
The unit utilizes eight microphones and far-field technology to be able to hear your voice commands over music, road noise, and air conditioning noise. It provides all the functionality that Alexa offers around the house, and we can imagine that might be appealing to those behind the wheel. You can use it to play your favorite music, stream podcasts, make and answer phone calls, check the news or weather, set reminders, update your to-do list, pay for gas, and of course, link to the map app of your choice for turn-by-turn directions.
What We Like About Amazon Echo Auto
Is it a must-have? The Echo Auto is perfect for folks who with cars that don’t come equipped with high-tech bells and whistles. If you drive a vintage resto, a classic muscle car, or just a beat-up old commuter sedan, the Echo Auto brings your car stereo into the 21st century with hands-free actuation. That’s a good thing.
All you need is the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone. If you have Alexa in your home, you probably already have and use it. Just sync your Amazon Prime account to the Echo Auto device. Then, mount it to your car’s vent, plug it in to power, connect it to your phone, and you’re ready to rock. It’s easy to set up and relatively inconspicuous.
Amazon Echo Auto is an economical and affordable way to turn your car into a smart car. And if you purchase it on Prime Day, now through midnight p.s.t. on June 22, you can get it for just $15. That’s a whopping savings of $35.
Sounds like the perfect opportunity to give the Echo Auto a try.
What We Don’t Like About Amazon Echo Auto
[Ed. Note—Full Disclosure, we did not get our hands on an Echo Auto to test for ourselves. But at this price? It’s worth a shot.]
With all the awesome features that the Amazon Echo Auto has to offer, you may think it’s the perfect thing for you or a friend or family member to add to your road trip repertoire, but there are a few drawbacks.
For one, if you have a newer vehicle that’s already compatible with your smartphone or proved hands-free comms, the Echo Auto doesn’t offer much more that Siri or your built-in infotainment system already provides—unless you often feel a pressing need to order from Amazon while driving.
Further, the Echo Auto is also not compatible with all makes or models of cars. It requires a specific (but fairly standard square or rectangular) air vent setup to be able to mount securely. Modern round or oddly shaped vents may not work—but then, cars with such stylishly designed air vents are probably newer and likely already have hands-free connectivity already.
The Echo Auto isn’t completely wireless. Without a wireless Bluetooth connection to your car stereo, you’re going to have annoying cords hanging around and getting in the way. Most disturbingly, reliable and uninterrupted connectivity seems to be a common concern among reviewers. That sucks while behind the wheel, because in order to check your connection or restart the app, you’ll probably need to pull over. But when it comes to gadgets, such tech-y quirks are often worked out in subsequent models.
Multiple users report that the Alexa connection isn’t made for several minutes after they’ve started the ignition. That can be a problem if you’re waiting for directions. Users also complain that Command prompts can be confusing for the Echo as well. Ask for navigation to a certain destination and you might get traffic info or Audible book recommendations.
Despite some glitches and headaches with a brand new technology that Amazon is sure to be working on improving quickly, the Amazon Echo Auto does offer some great selling points that make it worth a try, especially at this deeply discounted price for Prime Day.
If you want hands-free infotainment while driving and don’t have a system to do so, the Echo Auto might be a great option for you. Setup is straightforward and easy, making it a much more economical or affordable option than installing a touchscreen audio system in your vehicle. Again, it’s ideal for older vehicles.
With Amazon’s customer service and reasonable return or exchange policy—and this crazy Amazon Prime Day discount—what have you got to lose? See if the Amazon Echo Auto will be the commuter companion you’ve been looking for.