Got a small or lesser used space that needs smartening up? Amazon has just introduced the Amazon Echo Flex. The Echo Flex is designed to bring smart home control to small spaces, bringing help from Alexa to more places in your home. I had a chance to add the Amazon Echo Flex to my smart home arsenal, and I’ll tell you what it’s best for, how well it works as well as what it can and shouldn’t be used for.
What is Amazon Echo Flex?
Amazon Echo Flex is the smallest Echo device you can get. It fits easily in your palm, and has a plug built into the back so you can plug it directly into an AC outlet. Once connected, it links you to Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa. Use it to control your smart home gadgets like lighting, appliances, plugs and thermostats, or use it to get instant help setting timers, alarms and reminders.
What makes Echo Flex different?
Echo Flex is designed primarily to be a smart home connector where you can call for Alexa to turn the lights on, for example.
It’s not, unlike other Echo devices, meant to be a speaker for listening to music and other audio. Amazon makes a point of noting this on its website, admitting up front Echo Flex has a very tiny built-in speaker that is not optimized for music playback. The company recommends that for richer and louder sound trying the Echo Dot or connecting Echo Flex to your own speaker via 3.5 mm aux or Bluetooth.
Sound quality of Amazon Echo Flex
The speaker is definitely small and tinny; it’s just a 0.6″ mini speaker, so yes you could listen to almost anything on it in a pinch, but that’s not what it’s meant for, so for that reason I’m not going to try to evaluate the sound quality in detail.
Where would you use Amazon Echo Flex?
You might wonder what good a smart device like Flex would be if it’s not meant for music listening. There are a few special use-cases for Flex:
- Place it in an area you need smart home connectivity, but you don’t have furniture, a shelf or counter space available
- Use it in the basement to ask Alexa to turn lights on or off as you head down
- Use it on the laundry room when your hands are full
- Use it in a kitchen to set recipe timers or to add items to your grocery list
- Use it in the garage to get Alexa to turn the lights on in the house as you’re heading inside
- Try it in a high traffic hallway or near the door to call out for all the lights to be turned on or off as you enter or leave
- Place it somewhere you don’t want wires trailing to your Echo speaker or Dot, like a workshop, bathroom, or small kitchen
- Broadcast announcements like calling out dinner’s ready without screaming all over the house, or drop in using Amazon’s Drop In intercom feature which turns Echo devices into speakerphone-radios.
The Echo Flex also has a built in USB port in the bottom. You can use it to plug in devices for charging, or add one of Amazon’s accessories, like a motion sensor or night light.
Downside of Amazon Echo Flex
I did find one significant downside to the Amazon Echo Flex and that’s that it takes up an outlet unnecessarily, in my opinion. While it does allow USB access, that does limit what you might be able to plug into it. Plus, unless you want to block two outlets, the Flex also needs to be used in the bottom outlet.
Overall thoughts on Amazon Echo Flex
Overall I’m a fan of Amazon’s Echo smart devices. They’re smart, reliable, handy and they control my smart home well. This is another blade in Amazon’s Swiss Army knife of smart home connected gadgets, allowing you to place an Echo in places that weren’t possible before now.
Echo Flex is also the least expensive Echo on the market making it a great starter gadget if you’re wondering is getting a smart speaker-digital assistant is worth it.