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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Amazon Echo Flex review: A tiny plug-in smart speaker for compact spaces

With the Echo Flex, Amazon is trying to bring Alexa to impossible places where the Echo smart speakers otherwise couldn’t reach.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Rs. 2999
Written by Anuj Bhatia | New Delhi | Updated: December 15, 2019 4:33:11 pm
Amazon, Amazon Echo Flex, Amazon Echo Flex price in India, Echo Flex price in India, Echo Flex features, Amazon Echo Flex review Priced at Rs 2,999, Amazon’s Echo Flex is essentially a small Echo speaker that plugs directly into the wall. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Amazon wants its Alexa voice assistant to be everywhere… and that might include the dashboard of your car or just a power plug in your living room. I was not sure of the utility of the latter, but the Echo Flex did change my perspective.

Priced at Rs 2,999, Amazon’s Echo Flex is essentially a small Echo speaker that plugs directly into the wall. It doesn’t have wires or rechargeable batteries and takes up very limited space. It’s an interesting device, because the Echo Flex puts Alexa into those corners of the house where you don’t have the space to keep the Echo, like in your bathroom or the balcony in your house.

I have been using the Echo Flex for a few days. Here’s what I’ve found.

Amazon Echo Flex review: Compact size

The Echo Flex plug-in speaker doesn’t look different from the international converter I take on work trips. It is 2.8 inches tall and 2.6 inches wide. It’s made of plastic and comes in white. Unlike the Echo Dot or Nest Home Mini that are puck-shaped, the Echo Flex is box-shaped. You’ll notice the Alexa button and a microphone mute on the front above the speaker grills and below the LED indicator light. A USB-A port is on the bottom so that you can connect a Smart Night Light or a Motion Sensor accessories — both not available in India. Or else, that outlet lets you plug in a cable to charge another device, like a phone or a tablet. On the side of the device, there’s a 3.5 mm audio output jack.

Amazon, Amazon Echo Flex, Amazon Echo Flex price in India, Echo Flex price in India, Echo Flex features, Amazon Echo Flex review The Echo Flex plug-in speaker doesn’t look different from the international converter I take on work trips. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Amazon Echo Flex review: Full access to Alexa

The Echo Flex’s simplistic design and the ability to get Alexa voice assistant in every single corner of your home is its biggest draw. I chose to use the Flex in my bathroom, because I thought that’s one place I needed this device the most. I wanted to keep my Echo Dot, but there’s no place to keep the speaker. So the Flex comes handy, as it provides access to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant where you have an electrical outlet.

I found myself using the Echo Flex more than I use the Echo Dot throughout my entire day. I used the Flex to listen to light music, check the weather or playing a daily flash briefing when I am getting ready for work in the morning.

The Flex is just like any other Echo with Alexa built-in. It can control your smart devices, play music, answer questions, and more. Where, I think, the Flex manages to impress is its compact size. It’s extremely small, has its own built-in speaker, and gives full access to Alexa voice assistant.

Amazon, Amazon Echo Flex, Amazon Echo Flex price in India, Echo Flex price in India, Echo Flex features, Amazon Echo Flex review The Echo Flex is designed for listening to music. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Amazon Echo Flex review: Poor audio

One major downside of the Flex is its weak speaker. The speaker is fine for listening to the news and you can hear Alexa’s voice clearly. But I don’t think the Flex is designed for listening to music. I have listened to every genre of music on the Flex — and you will be disappointed.

The sound quality, as well as the volume, make this a bad speaker. Another thing I don’t like about the Flex is that it doesn’t do a good job with microphones. The Flex’s microphones work when you’re in close proximity to the plug-in speaker and that annoyed me a lot during the course of my testing.

Also read| Amazon Echo Studio review: When smart sounds good

Amazon Echo Flex review: Conclusion

The Echo Flex has certain limitations, but at the end of the day, it is a device that makes a lot of sense. With the Flex, Amazon is trying to bring Alexa to impossible places where the Echo smart speakers otherwise couldn’t reach. I still think the Flex is no replacement for the Echo Dot yet, and Amazon is very much well aware. The full potential of this device is for when you have enough accessories to go with it.

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