When Amazon unveiled the Echo Glow, a $30 color smart lamp that's controlled via Alexa, I squealed in excitement. "How many is too many?" I thought, as I envisioned how a zoo of these glowing, orb-like fixtures would complement my collection of smart lights.
But now that it's available and I've tested out the quirky voice-controlled gadget, I've realized the Echo Glow is, as advertised, truly for kids.
With its palm-sized design, basic voice controls and elementary color capabilities, the Echo Glow is meant to teach youngsters the basics of Alexa. But even if the proposition of introducing your child to a corporate giant doesn't give you the willies, the Echo Glow only partially succeeds as an educational toy.
Echo Glow price and availability
The Echo Glow costs $29.99 and became available at Amazon on Nov. 20. Though the device works without an Echo speaker, you'll need an additional Alexa-enabled audio device if you want to control the Echo Glow with your voice. Check out our picks for the best Alexa speakers to find one that's compatible.
Echo Glow design
The Echo Glow doesn't look like a traditional lamp. It's a palm-sized, orb-shaped gadget with a flat rubber base. While this device is small enough to hold in one hand, it's designed to remain stationary. A built-in power adapter and physical power button are found on the back of the 8.6-ounce Echo Glow.
The smart lamp's matte finish feels more inviting than the reflective plastic of the bowl-like Philips Hue Go light. The Echo Glow is a rather homey-looking device by comparison. I could see it blending in among a child's toy displays and colorful artwork.
The Echo Glow is adorable and tempting to touch. In fact, you're meant to do just that. When you tap the Echo Glow, it changes color using RGB LEDs. Admittedly, I could tap it all day long, but the true appeal of the Echo Glow lies in its Alexa features.
At just 100 lumens, the Echo Glow is far too dim for you to use it as anything other than an accent or night light.
Using the Echo Glow with Alexa
When paired with an Alexa speaker, the Echo Glow becomes a smart lamp. You can change the color, as well as adjust the brightness and initiate morphing light modes using either the Alexa app or voice commands.
An underwhelming Campfire mode attempts to emulate a flickering flame. More impressive was Disco mode, but the colors merely flash in a random pattern and don't sync with any music that's playing, like the Nanoleaf Canvas lights do.
Parents can incorporate the Echo Glow in household routines. Using the rainbow timer, you can set the lights to turn off or change color to indicate scheduled actions, like daily reading quotas or bedtime. For example, from another part of the house, a parent can say, "Alexa, set a rainbow timer for 10 minutes on the Echo Glow."
When using the Echo Glow in conjunction with the Echo Dot Kids Edition, a child can comprehend how to communicate with rated-G Alexa to operate smart home devices. As Amazon increasingly establishes its smart assistant as a household name, the Echo Glow acts as a friendly introduction to Alexa's basic uses.
You can say, "Alexa, change the Echo Glow to purple," to get an instantaneous visual result. "Alexa, make Echo Glow dimmer," provides a similarly instantaneous experience. Speaking in smart assistant-suited phrases takes practice, and the Echo Glow provides an uncomplicated way to learn.
If you use or plan to use Alexa in your home, giving your child an Echo Glow can help lay the foundations for understanding how smart homes work. Though this device is cute to look at and fun to touch, the color modes are simple and it doesn't get very bright. But when it comes to using Alexa for the first time, the Echo Glow provides an inexpensive liaison — as long as you're not disturbed by your child having play dates with an artificial intelligence.