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Geologist Dennis Keane with his Amazon Echo.
Geologist Dennis Keane with his Amazon Echo.

Yes, plenty of people have been able to purchase an Echo, and some of them are already big fans of Amazon’s intelligent, talking home speaker/virtual assistant.

And even in cases where they’re not entirely satisfied, they see the potential of the device.

Those are the takeaways from my email inbox after we posted yesterday about CNet’s review of the device. I asked anyone who had received an invite to purchase the Echo to let me know, and I heard from several within a short amount of time. I followed up with each of them and mostly heard praise for the device, or at least appreciation for what Amazon is attempting to do.

Echo Selfie
An “Echo selfie” from two early users.

“So far it is a unique hassle free addition to my life,” said Alex, a consultant from St. Paul, Minn. “Turning off the music as I walk out the door with just my voice does save time.  The price for Prime members and my overall positive experience with Amazon inspired me to buy it.”

What does he wish Echo could do that it doesn’t?

“Weather could be more descriptive (wind and windchill, I live in Minnesota),” said Alex. “It doesn’t interface with search engines right now and I think there is huge potential in that.  One of the first things we tried was movie times and that would be fun and handy.”

Another early Echo user, Giulo Savo, said via email, “Different levels of appreciation of it exist within my household for sure.” I have gone from a bit disappointed to really beginning to understand how to work around some limitations and know that this product is as you say, a true work in progress.”

And another Echo user, Dennis Keane, gave this pro-and-con rundown.

Pro:
Streaming music is nice. Streaming all sorts of classical and other genres through prime and IHeart radio.
Sounds good for the size at moderate volumes.
Streaming NPR is something I will use a lot.
Jokes are horrible elementary school level.
Being able to adjust volume, turn off, pause and stop via voice commands works really well.
Looking at the app, it understands each word I say without any errors I have noticed.

Con:
Jokes are horrible elementary school level.
Not a ton of functionality in the office other than music.
Tried to get some sports scores, did not work.
Some issues setting it up, couldn’t register with the cloud. Blame it on new tech.
Can’t control IPhone Bluetooth via voice commands (yet?)

An example of those jokes: “Did you hear about the two antennas that got married?  The reception was great.”

amazonechoHere’s a clue to how Amazon is distributing the device. Everyone who contacted me is an Amazon Prime member, who received the device (normally $199) at the promotional price of $99.

Is Keane happy with the purchase? “It was what I was expecting and the voice commands work better than I had anticipated – so for the $99, yes.  For $200 – I would want some more features.”

The assessment overall from early users was more positive than CNet’s assessment of 3 out of 5 stars, but less glowing than ZDNet’s 10 out of 10 ranking. The most consistent criticism was the lack of an iOS app for the device (it’s Android and Amazon only, for now) but the iOS app is on the way.

Here’s a video sent by another Echo user, showing the device in action.

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