Amazon's Echo Glow is a smart nightlight for kids that can change color and create cute effects. It's one of a whole slew of new devices that Amazon unveiled on September 25, including the Alexa-enabled Echo Buds and Echo Studio. Don't let the title confuse you: The Echo Glow isn't an Echo speaker, and Alexa isn't built into it. We tested it during the event, and here are our first impressions. You can preorder it now for $29.99.
If you want to introduce your kid to Alexa, but are creeped out by the idea of an Echo speaker in their bedroom you are the target demographic of Amazon's Echo Glow, one of the cheapest devices that the company unveiled at its September 25 launch event in Seattle. It's a cute smart lamp that can change color and create some simple lighting effects. Contrary to its name, the $29.99 Echo Glow isn't an Echo speaker. It's actually an Echo accessory, much like the Echo Buttons Amazon released in 2017. That means Alexa isn't built into the Glow; there's no speaker and no microphone. Pair the Glow with an Echo or other smart speaker, and you can use Alexa to control it. I played around with the Echo Glow for a few minutes — here's what it was like. The Echo Glow is just for fun.
Let's clear one thing up: At 3.9 x 3.9 x 3.2 inches, this is a very small lamp. I could palm it easily, and I have the smallest hands of anyone I know. It is also not bright enough to light up your child's room. It's only rated for 100 lumens — most smart bulbs deliver between 800 and 1200. If you're buying the Echo Glow, you're not buying it to be a lamp; it's essentially either a toy or a nightlight. Preorder the Echo Glow on Amazon for $29.99 (ships November 20) It's cool, but it's no Philips Hue.
The Echo Glow can produce a few smart-lighting effects. They're fairly basic compared to what other smart lights can do, but they look cute, and your kid may love them. You can:
Change the Glow's color and adjust the brightness. Set a "rainbow timer," which cycles the Glow through various colors as a specified time (bedtime, for example) nears. Set a morning alarm that causes the glow to gradually brighten as wakeup time approaches. Cycle through color effects including "campfire," in which the Glow emulates the look of flickering flames, and "party," in which the Glow strobes in different colors alongside music.
"Party mode" is the coolest feature, and it worked pretty well in the demo I saw. That said, given the lamp's small stature and limited brightness, the effect is pretty contained to the area directly around it. It's not nearly as striking as the displays you'll get from music-sync features in bulbs from brands like Philips Hue and Lifx, which can drown a full room in disco-esque light and color. Below, you can see the Echo Glow bopping alongside "Uptown Funk". Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1176959398821818368?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Here's the Echo Glow in action. Its music sync feature, though not super bright, is cute to watch pic.twitter.com/fBL1jMYLMu You can also create a flicker effect, similar to what you might see from a candle. These are cute effects, but they're nothing new. You can get the same effects from pretty much any high-end smart bulb, but these have the added benefit of being able to light your room, and have a much more striking look. Ultimately, however, I think I would buy this for my kid. Preorder the Echo Glow on Amazon for $29.99 (ships November 20) The controls take some getting used to.
There are three ways to control the Echo Glow. You can issue voice commands to Alexa via your smart speaker to say, "Alexa, dim Bobby's Lamp," or "Alexa, turn on party mode." You can also use the Alexa app on your smartphone. Or — and this is what your kid will probably be doing — you can use the device's touch controls. Tapping the device once turns it on, tapping it again cycles its color, and tapping it twice turns it off. I played around with the touch controls and found that I had to tap the Glow a bit more forcefully than was natural for it to register my command. The low sensitivity certainly decreases the chance that your kid (or a pet) will accidentally turn it on by brushing past. On the other hand, as I cycled through a dozen colors searching for a particular shade of pink, I was frustrated that only two-thirds of my taps registered. It's possible kids used to tapping with the necessary force, but I can also see them getting impatient with the device before this can happen. Preorder the Echo Glow on Amazon for $29.99 (ships November 20) The Echo Glow is a good introduction to smart home devices.
I'm not a parent, but I can see why one might buy this for their kid. It's not a particularly innovative or high-tech device. Smart lights, nightlights included, have been done before, and are being done better by many companies. But I like the Glow because it's an easy way to introduce a kid to what a smart device can be. It prods them to practice simple gesture controls, issuing simple voice commands, and creating their own effects. More importantly, it demonstrates preliminary ways in which smart objects might fit into their lives; not just as neat-looking toys, but as objects of use as well. And unlike the Echo Dot Kids, Amazon's first attempt to court tech-savvy parents, the Echo Glow doesn't plop a microphone into your child's bedroom. Preorder the Echo Glow on Amazon for $29.99 (ships November 20)
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