The "Alexa" Blog - 2

In our second installment of “The Alexa” blog, we examine the most up-to-date Amazon Echo family of devices that are currently on the market, steps to follow for the initial setup of the “Echo,” and a few basic commands to start interacting with “Alexa.”
  • First up is the new Amazon “Echo” (2nd Generation) which retails for approximately $100.00). This all-new “Echo” has a new speaker, new design, and is available in six styles including fabrics and wood veneers. The “Echo” connects to “Alexa” to play music, make calls, set alarms and timers, and ask questions, control smart home devices, and more—instantly. This is one of the two Echo devices that we will primarily be focusing on in the "Alexa” blog.
  • Next is the Amazon Echo “Dot” (2nd Generation) which retails for around $50.00. This Amazon Dot is also a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses “Alexa.” The “Dot” is basically a small version of the “Echo,” but without surround-sound speakers embedded in the device (blue tooth speakers can be purchased and paired with the “Dot” to provide improved sound quality). This is the second Echo device that we will primarily be focusing on in The "Alexa” blog.
  • The Echo “Plus,” Echo “Spot,” the Echo “Show,” and the Echo "Look" currently complete the Amazon Echo family of devices.  Additionally there is the Amazon "Tap," which is a portable Echo like device, but we will not focus on these for now, but save them for future discussion in later installments to this blog.

The first thing you want to do after you obtain your “Echo” is to unbox it ( the “Echo” comes with the “Echo” tower, a wired plug-in adapter, and some have a remote and two double-A batteries for the remote) and  set it up - a fairly easy and painless process.  Please note: the “Echo” comes with instructions in the box for the initial set up of the “Echo,” which generally follow the set-up information below.

  • First, download the Alexa app for iPhone or Android (from the Apple Store or Google Play) onto your mobile device (i.e., your smart phone). You can also setup the “Echo” via your computer’s web browser by going to (settings/set up new device).
  • Next you’ll need to plug the “Echo” into a wall socket and position the Echo at least 8 inches from the wall.
  • After plugging in the Echo, you’ll see the LED ring around the top of the device glow blue, and then it will turn orange (depending on what generation of "Echo" you have, you may have to press and hold the action button on the top of the “Echo” for at least 5 seconds). At this point the “Alexa” will greet you.
  • The next step is to use the app/browser to connect (or pair) the Echo to your wireless (Wi-Fi) network. In the Alexa app, find Settings and select: Setup New Device. “Alexa” will tell you that you have connected to the “Echo” and to follow the steps in the Alexa app to complete the connection.
  • This will lead you to a list of the available Wi-Fi networks that will appear within the Alexa app/browser.
  • Select your Wi-Fi network and enter the network password. “Alexa” will then tell you that you are connected.
  • The Alexa app will then direct you to set up your remote (which comes with some versions of the “Echo”). “Alexa” instructs you to put the batteries in the remote and press the fast forward button to complete the pairing of the remote with the “Echo.”
  • After that, you’ll see a confirmation message (and an optional “Echo” informational video) within the app and you’ll be ready to use “Alexa.”

(If this guide (or the accompanying set-up instructions are still confusing to you) there are many good videos on YouTube that show step-by-step instructions for the initial set up of the “Echo.”)

Now you can try a few basic commands to begin getting comfortable using the “Echo” or “Dot.”  Remember to first say the wake word, “Alexa” to alert the “Echo” to listen to you.  For example, facing the “Echo” you can say:

  • “Alexa, what time is it?”
  • “Alexa, what is the weather today in Harrisonburg?”
  • “Alexa, what is in the news?”
  • “Alexa, stop.”

Or try this one:

  • “Alexa, good morning.”

There you have it for today. In my next blog we will examine the Echo’s hardware structure, buttons and “fire ring,” and we will go into more detail on the basic and more advanced ways of interacting with “Alexa.”