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Echo Auto - First Impressions

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Offline jwlv

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Echo Auto - First Impressions
« on: July 10, 2019, 08:36:06 am »
After waiting nearly 8 months, I finally got my Echo Auto invitation two days ago. It was delivered yesterday and here are my initial impressions.

Well, it's really nothing special. It's basically the same as any other Echo device, except it's in your car.

The one significant thing about the Echo Auto is it uses Bluetooth for its data connection rather than WiFi. It does not support WiFi at all. When you first set it up through the Alexa app, it will connect to your phone's Bluetooth. Then you have an option to use Bluetooth for the Echo Auto's audio output or connect a 3.5mm audio cord to your car's AUX port.

The Echo Auto gets its power from a micro USB connection. Amazon included a USB cord as well as a 3.5mm audio cord and a plug with two USB ports for the car's 12v accessory socket. You only need to use one USB port for the Echo Auto. The other one is open to whatever you want to use it for, maybe your phone's charger cord.

It appears that the Echo Auto's main hardware is the 8-microphone array, a Bluetooth chip, and probably not much else. All of the heavy lifting is done on your phone via the Alexa app. All Alexa responses are sent via Bluetooth to your car's stereo or if you are using the AUX audio cord, sent to the Echo Auto which outputs through the 3.5mm AUX audio cord.

I suppose an Echo Dot can do everything an Echo Auto can do since it does have Bluetooth and a 3.5mm audio port. But that's only IF (a very big IF) Amazon enables the Dot to use Bluetooth for its data connection.

One benefit to using the Echo Auto is the size. It's pretty slim and doesn't attract unnecessary attention. It's smaller than a deck of cards. I'd say it's probably about 3/4 the size of a standard deck of cards. It comes with a nice rubberized mount. It also turns on quickly. I assume that's because the Alexa app is the one that does all the work. The Echo Auto is treated like a Bluetooth audio device on the phone. So it doesn't take long to turn on or to connect.

The data it uses will be from your cell phone's data plan. Keep that in mind since many cell phone plans have a monthly allotment of data that if you go over, it could be very costly. I don't worry about that since my plan is "unlimited" until I reach a certain GB and then the speed is throttled (lowered) until my next month.

Is it worth $24.99 (invitational price)? Yea, I think so. If you're immersed in Alexa inside your house like I am (I have 8 Echo devices) then you'll definitely appreciate being able to use Alexa while in the car. Is it worth $49.99 (regular price)? Yes, I would buy it for $49.99. It's something nice to have and it won't break the bank to buy it.


Offline Laurel

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Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2019, 06:03:10 pm »
Jwlv, I have a question please. If I take the Echo Auto out of my car each night, do I have to go through the whole set up process again? I thought I would take it out so it doesn't get stolen. I find the whole process of setting it up each time a bit tedious if that is what I have to do. Are you just leaving yours in your car hooked up all the time? Do you worry about it accidentally using data if you do that?  Thanks for any expertise and help.  So far I am thinking it is nice to have the music I like at hand, but I'm not sure I'm up to pairing each time.  When I say pairing, I mean it seems I have to go through the whole new device set up once I unplug the Echo Auto.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2019, 08:17:02 pm by Laurel »

Offline kenf

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Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2019, 08:22:04 pm »
using my phone's Alexa app sounds like a red flag.

I'm on an iPhone.

If I say "Alexa, what time is it?"

Is it just gonna work like in my house?  Or do I need to load up the Alexa app first?




Offline Laurel

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Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2019, 10:09:37 pm »
Kenf you need to download the Alexa App to use Echo Auto.

Jwlv I am figuring things out!  I wasn't actually connected to Bluetooth in my car. So now I can unplug and take it out without having to go through the set up process.  We also figured out a hidden spot to set up Echo Auto near the USB port and it is well out of sight so I can leave it connected in the car, and we tested that is shuts down when we turn off the car so I am not going to use data accidentally.  I am loving it now that I am getting the hang of it. Thanks for your first impressions!!

Offline jwlv

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Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2019, 12:55:26 am »
Jwlv, I have a question please. If I take the Echo Auto out of my car each night, do I have to go through the whole set up process again? I thought I would take it out so it doesn't get stolen. I find the whole process of setting it up each time a bit tedious if that is what I have to do. Are you just leaving yours in your car hooked up all the time? Do you worry about it accidentally using data if you do that?  Thanks for any expertise and help.  So far I am thinking it is nice to have the music I like at hand, but I'm not sure I'm up to pairing each time.  When I say pairing, I mean it seems I have to go through the whole new device set up once I unplug the Echo Auto.

I don't plan to take the Echo Auto out of my car ever. I just leave it in the car. Most car's 12v accessory socket turns off automatically when the car shuts off. I've seen a few trucks that stays on. You should test that in your vehicle just to be sure.  Whether you take the Echo Auto out of your car every night, it will pair automatically when it's turned back on. Think of the Echo Auto as a standalone Bluetooth speaker or a Bluetooth headset. When it turns on, it should connect to your phone automatically. You don't need to set it up again. Because it's Bluetooth, the range is rather short. If you're more than 10 or 15 feet away, it will be too far to maintain the connection. Even if the Echo Auto remains on, it won't be connected to your phone any more just because of the distance. I have an unlimited data plan on my phone so I don't worry about how much data it will use. But it's a good idea to keep an eye on how much data it's using for the first few days so that you don't go over your plan's allotment.

Offline jwlv

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Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2019, 01:04:06 am »
using my phone's Alexa app sounds like a red flag.

I'm on an iPhone.

If I say "Alexa, what time is it?"

Is it just gonna work like in my house?  Or do I need to load up the Alexa app first?

Unlike other Echo devices, the Echo Auto requires the Alexa app on your phone. It won't work without it. The Alexa app is the Echo Auto's internet connection. For home Echo devices, your WiFi router is their internet connection. If you take the WiFi router away, they won't work any more. Similarly if you take the Alexa app away, the Echo Auto won't work any more.

Besides the difference in connection requirements, the Echo Auto works the same as other Echo devices. If you ask, "What time is it?" You'll get the same answer as the Echo devices in your house. You do not need to activate or open the Alexa app manually. You can keep your iPhone in your pocket the entire time if you want. The Alexa app must be installed on your phone. You don't ever need to touch the Alexa app again if you don't want to.

Offline Laurel

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Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2019, 11:34:10 am »
Jwlv thanks for explaining things.  One more question.  Is there any advantage to hooking up to my car's accessory system? Right now I have it connected to the USB port that goes into the media system. I do have the capability of using the accessory system.  I will show my ignorance here in that I thought if I hooked into the accessory system, it would not play through the car's speakers.  I gather that is not true?  My phone has a data warning system which I can set up to warn me when I am over a certain amount of data. I just have 4 GB monthly so I will keep an eye on that. Thanks.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 11:35:58 am by Laurel »

Offline jwlv

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Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2019, 08:36:12 am »
The audio from the Echo Auto goes through either the 3.5mm audio cord or through Bluetooth. Your choice.

Offline Laurel

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Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2019, 01:09:19 pm »
Thanks jwlv.

Offline tthoben

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  • Greetings from sunny Singapore!
Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2019, 09:35:20 am »
I have also waited and received the invitation about 2 weeks ago. After much thought and reading the reviews, I decided not to purchase the echo but use one of my spare echo dots in the car instead. To me it's still an experimental product but maybe with future updates it can finally have a killer feature (or two) that I'll be willing to part with my money for.

As it is now, you just need a nice mobile phone holder (which doesn't cost USD25) and use the Alexa app on your phone which can do everything the echo auto can do at this moment
Echo Dot @ SG

Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2019, 12:30:47 pm »
I just installed it too. The USB cable is too long, and really should be a right angle cable on the Alexa side. Fortunately, I have a right angle USB cable that's relatively short. They should also have included a cable clip of some sort to manage the cable to the charger dangle. I am going to order one to keep the cable away from my infotainment system.

I had assumed that I would be able to use it to trigger apps on my phone (e.g. Waze, Google maps). I am on Android. I also had hoped that I could use it to send or read aloud Gmail and texts. I can kinda do these things via "OK Google" but they are clunky and required multiple steps. I would like to say, "Alexa, navigate to Home using Waze,"  or "Alexa, send a text to Mom."

Am I being unreasonable to expect to do these things?
« Last Edit: July 14, 2019, 01:18:29 pm by kendoori »

Offline Laurel

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Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2019, 08:58:25 pm »
I found the USB cable too long as well and bought a one foot one. Can't answer many questions to help at all yet. But I found my Echo Auto wouldn't stay connected and then found this about battery optimization.  Hope it helps others. I know when I bought my fitness Motiv ring I had to turn off battery optimization for it to work properly.  I have just turned it off for Amazon Alexa. Fingers crossed as I was ready to chuck my Echo Auto as I could not keep it connected and was re-setting a zillion times.  This is what was written elsewhere:
"I've got some new information to share that may help us all! For Echo Auto to work properly, we may need to turn off Battery Optimization for Alexa. The process will look a bit different depending on which phone you have, but the general steps are to go to Settings on your Phone, and find Battery. In Battery Settings, find Optimization/Power, then Alexa, and make sure "Don't Optimize" is selected.
I'll share my experience doing this, because my phone had it setup differently than the steps above.  On Galaxy S9+,  in Battery Settings, I turned off Power Saving Mode, and scrolled down to see Alexa was set as an "Always Sleeping" app. I switched that option off for Alexa. I've only taken a few short drives since adjusting this setting, but so far I am seeing improvement."

Offline Laurel

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Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2019, 09:59:14 pm »
Concerning Echo Auto, I was having a terrible time getting the Echo Auto to go back and forth between my android phone and hubby's iphone. But the secret is to just give the Echo Auto about 5 minutes after you get in to pair up with the correct phone.  It is very smooth now and I am totally thrilled with Echo Auto and I am in Canada where it isn't available.  Best buy I have made in a long while.  Love it!

Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2019, 03:39:08 pm »
Concerning Echo Auto, I was having a terrible time getting the Echo Auto to go back and forth between my android phone and hubby's iphone. But the secret is to just give the Echo Auto about 5 minutes after you get in to pair up with the correct phone. 


What am I supposed to do during those 5 minutes...talk to myself?

Oh...wait. I already do that.  :o

Offline Laurel

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Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2019, 06:41:58 pm »
Concerning Echo Auto, I was having a terrible time getting the Echo Auto to go back and forth between my android phone and hubby's iphone. But the secret is to just give the Echo Auto about 5 minutes after you get in to pair up with the correct phone. 


What am I supposed to do during those 5 minutes...talk to myself?

Oh...wait. I already do that.  :o
LOL. Whistle a tune maybe?  It is getting much faster syncing each time now. Maybe 30 seconds to a minute.