I've never seen a look of disappointment so great as when I had my wife open an Amazon box to reveal the Big Mouth Billy Bass.
"But it works with Alexa!" I said. Her demeanor did not change.
Now that Amazon's voice assistant is reaching maturity, we're bound to see Alexa used in more creative ways. Two years ago, some genius hacked a Billy Bass to work with Alexa, and now they're selling it online.
I needed this like Quint needed to catch Jaws. Naturally, I didn't tell my wife.
When it arrived, I found the Alexa-compatible Big Mouth Billy Bass to be pretty much the same as the original — it's a plastic fish mounted on a faux-wood plaque. Billy measures about 11 inches from tip to tail — a little too small to eat. A built-in stand lets you prop up the fish on a desk, or you can mount him on the wall. I suggested to my wife that we place him above our mantle. She suggested I pack my bags.
Billy Bass can run on four AA batteries, but this model also comes with a USB cord and plug. Power him up, and he drawls "Woo hoo! That feels good!" Already, this is looking like a great idea.
Like the original Billy Bass, there's a red button on the plaque; press it, and Billy starts singing "Fishin' Time." Classic.
But, when I started using Billy with Alexa, the scales were removed from my eyes. You see, Billy Bass doesn't have Alexa built in. You have to pair it via Bluetooth with an Echo device to use it with Amazon's voice assistant. Billy exclaims, "I’m ready for pairing to Bluetooth," and "Bluetooth connected to Big Mouth Billy Bass" — two things you never expect a fish to say.
When you say "Alexa," Billy’s head turns toward you, as if he's listening. It's both hilarious, and a little creepy. When Alexa responds, Billy's mouth jaws up and down in sync to what the assistant is saying. Ask it the weather, news, trivia, and it looks like it's talking to you.
But there's something fishy going on: While Billy Bass has a built-in speaker, it's not used by Alexa. He just mouths what the assistant is saying. So, if you want the effect of Billy actually speaking, you'll want to move your Echo close to the fish. While the speaker in Billy is worse than that of the original Echo Dot, I wouldn't mind the low quality in favor of the novelty.
Billy has one other Alexa-related trick: Play a song using Amazon Music — and only Amazon Music — and Billy will start dancing to the beat. Well, he flops around like a fish on the deck of a boat.
If it were $20, the Alexa-compatible Billy Bass would make a great gag gift for the holidays. At $40, though, I'd throw him back.
Credit: Tom's Guide