Now nearing three (!) years old, the Amazon Echo still feels futuristic, even though it’s become as familiar a part of my daily routine as my coffee maker. Just today, I asked Alexa to play music, got a weather forecast since it seemed like it may rain, listened to the morning news on WNYC, set a timer to remind me to grab something out of the oven, and ordered a door-stopper paperback novel in preparation for some time by a lake next month.
Still, it remains relatively pricey, at $180 for a new unit — especially considering that I mainly just use it as a speaker that will play Spotify, but also let me bug it with random questions. But with Prime Day approaching, Amazon — for the first time since it released the Echo — has dropped the price down into double digits. For just $90, you can pick up a certified refurbished Echo.
I’ve yet to be burned by Amazon’s certified refurbished program on its own devices. I haven’t used it for an Echo, but I got my last two Kindles from the program, and both were indistinguishable (to my eyes) from brand-new items — expect I paid a bunch less for both.
Even if you’ve already picked up an Echo for yourself, they make for surprisingly good gifts across a pretty broad range of people. During a recent deep discount (sadly, not quite as deep as this one), I decided to get one for my jazz-loving dad for Father’s Day. It’s been a quick hit in the house in a way that past gadget gifts haven’t. I’ve already received multiple text messages and phone calls of appreciation, as he and my mom figure out new stuff to do with it.
The Echo is like that. It’s one of those products that can feel a bit silly to describe: “It lets me check the weather without, um, looking at my phone or out the window?” But once you’ve used it for a few days, pulling out your phone to set a timer or put on a playlist feels as old-fashioned as getting the magnetic tape back in a cassette with a pencil and some luck. You just don’t need to do that anymore.