Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is not a smart home product that is reliant on a mobile device to operate. Once set up, the Echo is entirely voice activated and it's very good at it. And because there's a web app you can handle everything from your Windows 10 PC.

Products used in this guide

Setting up other Amazon Echo devices will follow the same process, but for the purposes of this guide, we used the standard, 2nd generation Amazon Echo.

Which Amazon Echo should you get?

Amazon Echo

Amazon now has a whole range of Echo products to choose from: The Echo Dot, Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Show and Echo Spot.

The first big difference between them is the price. The Echo Dot is $50, the 2nd generation Echo is $100 and the Echo Plus is $150. The Spot is $130 and Show is $230, with these two also having a display (Show has a big rectangular screen, Spot's is little and round), not just audio-based features.

Echo Spot

The Echo Plus tops the range of the speakers because it's also a built-in smart home hub, and it's basically the same form factor as the standard Echo, but is more expensive at $150.

The Echo Dot has recently been refreshed, and for $50 you get all the same Alexa features as the other two in a teeny tiny package. It's not as good for playing music, but you can get a pair for the price of one Echo and the newest version is a marked improvement in both quality and volume. Or if you'd prefer one for the kids' room, the Kids Edition is available for $70 with a neat case and an included year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited.

If you're looking for an extended Echo experience, the Show and Spot have built-in displays that can show you the time, weather, make video calls and take advantage of skills like the Ring Doorbell. You can answer the door and check your cameras using the Echo Show and the Echo Spot.

How to set up an Amazon Echo with Windows 10

Before you get too excited there are a couple of caveats, the first is that you'll have to set it up through your desktop browser. Unless you're a weird outlier like me and using a smaller browser like Opera, you'll probably be supported — if your browser's not, Edge will work just fine.

Setting up using your browser is fairly straightforward:

  1. Go to https://alexa.amazon.com in your browser.
  2. If you're not already logged in, hit log in.
  3. Plug in and turn on your Echo.
  4. Wait for the Echo's ring light to turn orange. The Echo should appear in the Alexa web app, as it's was automatically attached to your Amazon account when you ordered.
  5. Hold down the action button on the Echo for 5 seconds.
  6. In the web app, click on settings.
  7. Select set up new device.
  8. Choose the type of Echo you have.
  9. Select your Wi-Fi network in the web app.
  10. Click connect

After a few seconds, your Echo will set up and you can begin talking to it!

What you get inside the Alexa web app is a very simple to use layout to manage all your key Amazon Echo features. If you're using an Echo it's mostly a given you're also a Prime subscriber, and this will be your default music service. In the UK, Echo has support also for Spotify Premium, but that's it.

Amazon now has Music Unlimited, which has a special, lower-cost Echo only subscription that opens up more music for about $5 a month. To enable it, just ask Alexa to start your Music Unlimited trial.

Alexa on Windows 10 PCs

Announced at CES 2018, Amazon has Alexa to Windows 10 PCs in partnership initially with companies like ASUS, Acer, and HP. While not specifically for interacting with an Echo, it does provide another outlet to handle Alexa, requests and skills on your PC.

Amazon has since released a dedicated app for Windows 10 which can be used by everyone. It can't be used to set up an Echo device, you'll still need to follow the steps above and use the web app for that.

But, it expands the reach and makes Alexa even more convenient to integrate with your life, and your home. It's a little rough right now, but it's a start.

Our pick

Amazon Echo

A great way to get Alexa in your life.

The standard Amazon Echo is the best balance of sound quality, design and price, and unless you need a screen, it's the one to go for.

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