Alexa, is the Amazon Echo actually any good?

by | The Lowdown

Amazon are about to release the next generations of their Echo family, so now is definitely the time to make your life a whole lot smarter! Here’s the LOWDOWN, and to make things easier everything pink is a link!

First things first, after using Sonos, Bose and numerous other speaker brands I can honestly say that the Amazon Echo easily sits up there with best, it’s AWESOME!

What is it?

The Amazon Echo is a voice-controlled, wifi-connected speaker that can play music, answer questions, read you the news and weather, set timers and even control the lighting, heating and other devices in your house. Pretty cool huh?

What can it do?

If you’ve never used a voice-controlled device before (and even if you have, I’m looking at you Siri), you’ll be really impressed with the Echo. After downloading the Alexa app to your phone or tablet and running through the quick set-up, you can get started straight away!

You can ask Alexa all sorts of things, with the list growing daily. Here are just a few handy ones:

  • Play music from a host of streaming services, including Spotify, Prime, Tune in Radio, etc. *NEW FEATURE* – You can now send music straight to your Sonos speakers via Alexa too!
  • Read you the news headlines, football scores or the weather forecast.
  • Set a timer, “Alexa: time 10 minutes”, Great for when your hands are full in the kitchen and you don’t want to burn your roast!
  • Use Alexa as your alarm clock and set a regular daily wake-up call.
  • Control your heating if you have a smart thermostat like a Nest or Hive.
  • Add items to shopping lists or to-do lists, which then appear on your phone (or whatever device you have the Alexa app installed on).

It’s so easy to use, my Mom has one! When I bought one for her as a Christmas gift she was absolutely blown away by just the basics, like being able to request songs, switch to a particular radio station and turn the volume up and down. You do all this simply by saying “Alexa” followed by a command. (Although, she found it difficult – for just a moment – when she forgot the wake name was Alexa! Shouting Shelia didn’t quite have the same effect!

When you get into what are known as Skills (features added to the Alexa app), there’s a whole host of other things you can do too. I won’t list them all here as there are hundreds, you’ll have to see for yourself!

To top it all off Alexa can tell you joke to cheer you up, what a lass!

There are 3 main Echo designs to choose from.
Alexa, is the Amazon Echo actually any good? 1
The new Amazon Echo is the original speaker’s replacement. It costs £89.99 and launches on 31st October.

This Echo blends in with your home’s décor better than the original Amazon Echo did. You can buy it in black fabric, grey fabric and sandstone fabric. If these fabrics don’t fit in with your home’s décor, you can opt for a black, silver or oak finish instead. At just 5.9 inches tall it’s smaller size will help it to blend in better too.

This Echo has superior sound compared to the last model, with a 2.5-inch subwoofer and dedicated tweeter. Deep lows and crisp highs will make all your music sound at it’s best.

It also has some tricks the original Echo didn’t. For one, this Amazon Echo’s upgraded microphones help it detect your voice commands more easily when you’re listening to music already. That’s something that first-generation Amazon Echo users sometimes had issues with. Another great new feature is an audio port in the back of the new Amazon Echo which lets it connect to other speakers and audio systems so that you can use them with Alexa voice commands.

Alexa, is the Amazon Echo actually any good? 2
The Amazon Echo Plus looks a lot like the original Echo and comes in silver, white and black. It’s made for anyone that wants great sound and has plenty of smart home accessories they want to control.

In most ways, this Echo is just like every other. Inside the Echo Plus is a 2.5-inch subwoofer and a 0.8-inch tweeter. You can use it to fill an entire room with sound and an audio port on the back lets you turn your existing speaker system into an Amazon Echo.

However, this is the only Echo you can buy that doesn’t need to rely on Amazon’s cloud service or a hub to control your smart home accessories. It can talk to Hue light bulbs (you get one included), door locks, switches and blinds directly.

That added smart home hub functionality does come at an additional cost. The Amazon Echo Plus is £139.99 and it launches on 31st October.

If you’re planning a smart home or already have some smart home accessories you’d like to control with your voice, the Amazon Echo Plus is the best Amazon Echo you can buy, and you still get quality sound.

Alexa, is the Amazon Echo actually any good? 3
When you have a hallway or small room that you’d like to use Alexa in, you buy the Amazon Echo Dot. At £49.99, it’s the cheapest of all Echo devices, and it still has a lot of functionality.

You can ask Alexa questions, stream music or set reminders with the Echo Dot. It stands just 1.3-inches tall, allowing it to almost disappear in any home. It’s perfect for a bedside table! A selection of fabric cases can be added to help Echo Dot blend with the rest of your room’s décor.

It’s small size does mean you don’t get the best sound quality – because there’s no woofer. Instead, there is a 0.6 inch speaker and that’s not surprising given the form factor of the Echo Dot. It’s tiny!

On the plus side, it does have an audio jack and Bluetooth built in. So if you already have a great speaker system, getting the Echo Dot is the cheapest way to add Alexa to your home. For example, I have one connected via Bluetooth to a wireless Bose Soundlink speaker.

What’s the verdict?

Beyond playing music, there are a number of ways Alexa can help you in your daily life and with new Skills being created all the time, those are only going to increase. It’s the first time I’ve truly experienced a deeper and more satisfying relationship between tech and user. I think she likes me too 😉

With very reasonable pricing the Echo is a good investment for music fans and those who want to take the first step into voice-activated technology – or it would be the perfect gift (perhaps for Christmas) for someone else!


Our services

Web Design


Site Maintenance


Client reviews.

simon Adams
simon Adams
11:11 12 Mar 21
I would highly recommend DCX Design for website development, website design, website maintenance.Dan from DCX Design is also happy to help, very quick to answer questions & give advice.Our website was not originally built by DCX Design, there was a lot of coding problems but Dan has sorted them out & continues to support us with website maintenance.It's great knowing that our website is fully backup & protected so we can focus on our business.Thanks Dan.
Spencer Davey
Spencer Davey
17:55 08 Feb 21
It was time for a refresh of my website and I am so pleased that I came back to you. Looks fab, Dan. Very very pleased with it. Thank you so much.
Mandy Durell
Mandy Durell
13:41 26 Jan 21
I have had my web page made by Dan, at DCX Design.I couldn't have asked for a more friendly, professional and great value service. He listened and understood everything I have asked and tasks were done straight away, with a can-do attitude!I will definitely be recommending Dan to my clients, friends and family, for any future website design. Thanks for a great service, Dan!
Claire Ruston
Claire Ruston
07:30 19 Nov 20
Dan and DCX Design did a fantastic job on my website. Dan was only too happy to help with my many questions, and was a delight to work with. I especially liked that there were lots of beautiful design templates to choose from (helpful for a non-visual person like me, who didn't necessarily know what I was looking for) -- and Dan was able to tailor my preferred design so it suited my project perfectly. I couldn't be happier.
Dalton Roofing
Dalton Roofing
13:00 04 Sep 20
Dan at DCX Design did a fabulous job at creating and designing our new website! He was able to fulfil our requests by turning ideas into reality as well as giving us his advice and continues to guide and support us! Couldn’t recommend them enough.
Richard Pearson
Richard Pearson
18:51 19 Jun 19
Excellent service, Dan has built me a great looking website. Very happy with everything. Thanks again
Frances Cassell
Frances Cassell
07:46 22 May 19
Dan is extremely reliable, efficient and a valued creative member of our team. His ideas for online presentation of content have far surpassed our expectations at OCTOPUS and I have no hesitation recommending his services to our clients.
No18 Interiors
No18 Interiors
14:30 02 Jan 19
No18 go live has finally happened and I genuinely couldn’t be more excited or happy with the website Dan has created.Dan totally understood my brief and what I was trying to achieve from the get go. He even some how managed to turn my (at times) crazy ideas, into action and I genuinely believe the website speaks for itself and showcases his many talents. Dan’s personable approach makes it incredibly easy to discuss ideas with ease and I genuinely enjoyed working with him to pull my website together. Couldn’t recommend him or his services enough. Thanks Dan for helping me bring my dream business to life! Tara (No18 interiors founder)
Mark Kingston
Mark Kingston
11:38 26 Nov 18
From our very first meeting Dan listened and understood exactly what we wanted from our website. We were kept informed every step of the way regarding content changes and timescales, nothing was too much trouble. I would highly recommend DCX to anyone looking for an online presence.Thank you
R3D2 Social Media
R3D2 Social Media
10:32 26 Nov 18
Fantastic to work with Dan and on our website which is now a lot slicker and Dan was a pleasure to work with always very prompt with any queries we had whatever time of the day
Kate Mason
Kate Mason
06:31 21 Jul 18
Loving my website designed by Daniel. Amazing service, so helpful, patient and professional. Thank you so much x
Mark Burland
Mark Burland
15:49 20 Jul 18
We needed a professional looking website but had been quoted such high prices for what we could afford. Dan did an amazing job, we just chatted for about 30-45 mins, sent him some text and images and he created the perfect site. Couple of very minor tweaks and was all done, up and running within a week! Spot on service and very professional.
Mark McLennan
Mark McLennan
14:33 07 Jun 18
After 3 months in business I needed my website updating, and Daniel seemed to know what i needed more than me, he understood what i wanted the site to do and he did the rest, great service, support, advise and backup, all completed in the time allowed and within budget, Highly Recommended.
Rob Howe
Rob Howe
21:09 18 Feb 18
My experience with DCX Design was a first for me in terms of website design and construction. However despite a complete absence of knowledge on my part Dan was able to interpret my somewhat sketchy ideas and requirements and turn them into something way beyond my expectations.The speed at which Dan was able to do this was incredible. The time between our initial meeting to having the website live was far shorter than I was imagined possible.To top it all, working with Dan was a pleasure – his friendly but professional approach put me immediately at ease.In short the service provided by DCX Design has been nothing short of phenomenal. I would recommend them highly to anyone looking for a website.Rob HoweDirector - PlanCon LTD
Sammy Woodhouse
Sammy Woodhouse
15:52 18 Dec 17
I would like to say a big thanks to Dan for building my first ever website. Dan was affordable, professional, friendly and easy to work with, especially given the sensitivity of the subject of which the website was about. Would recommend him to anyone! The feedback on the website so far has been really positive!
Tech Spray
Tech Spray
14:33 31 Oct 17
We are extremely pleased with the website delivered by DCX. We were in massive need of an updated, faster and more responsive website with a modern appearance suitable for mobile devices as well as desktops. Not only did Dan at DCX exceed our requirements, he did so in a friendly, helpful and professional manner and with very little from us in terms of a brief.I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend DCX and thank Dan for assisting our business in moving forwards digitally.
Matthew Newbould
Matthew Newbould
14:05 21 Apr 17
Great service provided by Dan. Would definitely recommend. Thanks!
Zoe Round
Zoe Round
12:58 13 Jan 17
Dan has been invaluable in the setting up and initial running of our holiday let business.  He built our website with limited and sporadic instruction / information from me due to the birth of my baby girl.  He is approachable, efficient and most of all creative.  Dan has been very patient with me and not made me feel like a total technophobe which I am.  I would highly recommend Dan if you are starting any business and you need a website designer.