It’s hard to feel the same simple joy in Prime Day that we once did as children — it’s just so commercialized now — but there is at least one good reason to celebrate the annual one-day sale, which ends tonight at midnight: The Echo, Amazon’s voice-enabled speaker-assistant, is on sale for $129.99, down from $179.99. And you should buy one.
(Update: Prime Day is over. But we still think you should buy one.)
Yes. I mean — maybe you live off the grid or something; I don’t know. But if you’ve got electricity and internet access and disposable income to the tune of 130 bucks, the Echo is a genuinely great gadget that will be useful in basically any home.
My life is basically fine without an Echo.
Sure. It would be easy to keep living without an Echo. And, look, it won’t solve any particular problems for you. But it’s not supposed to. All it really does is make your life just a little bit easier, in ways that you don’t really start to appreciate until you’ve had it in your house for a while.
What do you mean?
Take checking the weather. This is a task that has been made increasingly easier over the last two decades, to the point of being, more or less, the easiest thing you can do on an iPhone: You just have to swipe down, and your weather widget will show you the temperature.
But taking out your phone, and swiping, and reading is still more complicated than asking Alexa: “Alexa, what’s the weather like today?” It sounds ridiculous if you haven’t used it, I know. I’m embarrassed to even type it! But after a few days of using Alexa to check your weather — from bed! In front of the closet! On your way out the door! — using your phone starts to feel like an enormous burden.
This just sounds like a lazy man’s enabler.
When you consider the number of things Alexa allows you to do while doing something else — setting a timer while putting food in the oven; ordering more toothpaste while finishing the last tube; putting on a playlist while setting up for a party — you could potentially make the argument that the Echo actually saves you time and makes you more efficient. But, honestly, my answer is: Why not enable your laziness?
Still: All the things it does are so minor. Why spend $130 on it?
The slightness of its chores, in my experience, is the whole point. Think of every basic daily fact you’ve Googled and every task you’ve launched from your iPhone’s bottom drawer. All that stuff can be done, with less effort, and with more use, by Alexa. That’s not just a collection of small features — it’s a whole category of service. Plus, figure you’re already going to spend about half that on a Bluetooth speaker of equivalent quality, so really, you’re spending the difference on the services.
Well, does it work?
Yes! Vastly better than the current form of Siri. This is the real selling point: It works extremely well. Space-station-AI well. Robot-butler well. Future-of-tech well. And definitely worth-$130 well.