They are finally here! After the multitude of new products announced on September 25, 2019 by Amazon at its annual conference, including the highly anticipated Echo Studio and 3rd generation Echo that we have already presented to you on our Facebook community, place to another of the last born members of the family ofAlexa : Amazon Echo Flex. Accompanied by two accessories designed by Third Reality, a movement detector et a night light, the new Echo Flex completes the already extensive list of Amazon Echo, but is not positioned on the same basis of price or use.
This small boarding enclosure Alexa is the 1st prize for devices from the brand with a smile. Sold alone at the price of 29.99 €, it could be a good way to discover the use of voice assistants at low cost. The other two optional extensions are respectively sold at a price of 14.99 € each. Echo Flex is in fact the main base to which can be connected thanks to its unique USB port either the night light or the motion detector. These two products can only work with this single base, it will not be possible, for example to connect one to this box and to place the other elsewhere on another USB port. And this is very regrettable, let us say it at the outset.
Echo Flex and its assistants
Unboxing and presentation
Three boxes for three devices. The most imposing, cubic in shape and containing EchoFlex, can be identified by blue, the color dedicated to devices Amazon Echo, while its two optional devices (night light and detectors) manufactured by the company Third Reality each come in a small rectangular white cardboard box.
The packaging of the Echo Flex, of higher quality than the other two, has a much more elaborate visual on the front. Amazon take care of its presentation and offers us on his box a photo of the last born as well as his identity, all in slight overprint. The boxes each containing a supplement are white with, on the front, a simple drawing of the devices. Their packaging could not be more minimalist.
On the back, we find small possible interaction sentences with Alexa, whether on the box of the Echo Flex or the night light, while that of the sensor invites us to go to the application Alexa for its management in routines.
Finally, on one side of the box, the logos are printed with technical information: USB-A port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and finally that the microphone that can be cut within the framework of respect for confidentiality, a mention thatAmazon highlights with regard to possible fears about the eavesdropping of which voice assistants have been subjected in recent months. The other small boxes just inform us of their content or on another side that they are "Made for Amazon ».
Once out of their respective packaging, our three items look very small. Indeed, Echo Flex measures only 72 x 67 x 73mm (plug included) for 154g, while the options that Third Reality has carried out do, according to our balance, 36g for the PIR sensor with its Cyclops eye covering an angle of 120 ° and 33g for the night light. Each of them to 36 mm thick. In each box, we find a user / configuration manual and in that of the Flex a second small booklet concerning information on electrical safety. Our three products made of smooth plastic and beautifully crafted are all dressed in white, so that once the optional part is added, the fusion is perfect.
On the front of Echo Flex we find from top to bottom, the Color led equivalent to the ring on an Echo Dot 3, below the Action button that can be used if necessary to redo a configuration, then the one intended for mute the microphone (if we psychotic on espionage) and finally the speakers, two in number and oval in shape. The microphones are also two in number and placed on either side of the LED and are the size of a paperclip. On the side we find a socket 3.5 mm allowing for example to connect headphones or more surely to connect it to speakers. On the back, a label with a QR code (probably that of the product) and various acronyms including the CE mark and information INPUT 100-240V - 0.5A. 50-60 Hz - OUTPUT 5V 5A max. Below the device, the USB-A socket which will allow you to attach one of the two additional functions available at the moment, which are the motion detector and / or the night light. Our Echo Flex is equipped with an integrated male plug, no cables are needed.
The illuminating part of the night light is made of translucent smooth plastic and is the width of the device. She embarks 6 LEDs that can provide up to 20 lumens of power. The sensor (or PIR) whose sensor has a large radius announced 120 ° for a range of 6m is also made of thick plastic slightly shaped like a honeycomb. Above each removable device, we find the USB socket and an informative label: INPUT 5V DC 400mA and feel like nominal power 2W. Finally, the operating temperature for these options must be between 0 and 40 ° C. They should not be used in an area fearful of frost such as an unheated outbuilding.
Before proceeding to the installation, here is the technical sheet from Echo Flex.
Echo Flex: a flexible device
Installation: three devices, three configurations ...
While waiting to be able to test the sound qualities of the last born ofAmazon, or its two assistants, we must install and configure the small box by plugging in our new Echo device on a power outlet. We then go to theapplication Alexa to start the adding procedure.
Once the orange LED flashes, the process starts. We are first asked toactivate bluetooth, then subsequently Configure Wi-Fi (indicating our corresponding password) either on the 2.4 GHz or on 5 GHz since the device supports either frequency indifferently. And… Tadam! Echo Flex appears in the list of our devices. We can change its name and put it in a group by assigning it a room.
We can now listen Alexa answer our questions or ask him to play music. And there, it is the surprise, well not if you followed the description of the Echo Flex: it does not have a volume button + and -. It will therefore be in voice or via the application that the settings will be made. Not embarrassing more than that since we mainly interact vocally with Alexa (and that's the main thing, isn't it?).
As for the sound, what comes out of this little box will be neither super powerful nor really enveloping, but this is not its primary vocation, let's be clear. On the other hand, he will know how to diffuse sound to fill the silence with a quality smartphone in speakerphone mode. That's all. On the other hand, it will be able to provide us with the same services as any other device. Amazon Echo : perform the home automation actions requested, make a Drop in, apples, messages, Classified, etc ... Its main use is to be there where the other Echo would not be easily usable at first glance and to be in addition the support to accommodate the night light or the PIR because it can be placed in a passage or occasional place. like a garage or an outbuilding (frost free). The other devices in the Echo family are all more suited to living rooms than this little Flex, on the other hand it perfectly complements it for less than 30th and occasional use.
Let us now see what it is about the use of the movement detector. We plug it into the Echo Flex's USB port and the detector's blue LED is activated to indicate that the PIR is starting to configure. No action on our part is required. A minute later, we see it appear in the app. Alexa under the name: first motion sensor. During installation the sensor is programmed to low sensitivity. It is quite possible to change this to put it in high sensitivity by unplugging / re-plugging the plug 4 times. Redoing this action will change the sensitivity again. The rapid or slow flashing of the Led indicates to us in which configuration the sensor is located. Once the choice has been made, it is possible to create routines from a detection: for example send a notification on your phone or start for example the weather forecast on an echo.
On the photos showing the recording of the detections we can see that they are of the order of one per minute. A reset time is in fact necessary between each signal. It will also need a new adaptation period in the event of a change in light. Regarding the detection range announced of 6 meters, this one seems a little overvalued to us and we estimate it at 3.50 meters. However, as this is a product that is not yet available, it may be improved by updating the firmware of the device.
Regarding the night light, the recognition procedure is exactly the same, namely that you just have to plug it into the USB port and wait a minute for it to be recognized in the application Alexa under the name of "First light". It will therefore be possible to integrate it into a routine. We have the possibility to select thelight intensity and choose from one 16 color range the one that suits us. This night light has two operating modes: automatic and manual (voice or via the application). Using the manual mode will turn off the auto function for 12 hours so that it does not turn back on immediately. You will have to go to the application to activate the night light again.
Here is a rendering in situation with the settings: "white" color and 100% brightness - on the last photo Echo Flex has been positioned upside down so that the lighting is more diffused in the room. We can see that it is very satisfactory and that it is even possible to put it at less power to see clearly.
Amazon has planned a last possible use of the USB port of the box: that of recharging a smartphone or to power a USB device. Small detail, but hey, it can always be interesting ... Or even more useful than the optional modules designed by Third Reality.