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If you already have an Echo speaker and are looking for more ways to integrate Alexa into your home, the Echo Wall Clock is an affordable and easy way to do so.
Amazon's smart-analog clock doesn't have Alexa built in. But LEDs around the device's face visually keep track of timers, alarms and reminders that you set with Amazon's voice assistant.
At $29.99, the Echo Wall Clock is a justifiable purchase for Alexa power users. But the timepiece is not that much of an upgrade over a regular analog clock, and if you're not an Amazon enthusiast, there are smarter clocks out there.
You're unlikely to have strong feelings about this device's aesthetic: The face is black, the numbers and hands are white, and the whole thing is made of a glossy plastic. There's an indicator LED above the 6, but there are no visible buttons (the only one is the pairing button, on the back of the clock).
The Echo clock is a grown-up version of the one in your elementary school's classroom. The device will probably look fine in your home, unless your furniture is particularly old-fashioned.
My one qualm is that, unlike many analog clocks, this one lacks a plastic cover, leaving it open to the elements. As a consequence, I got fingerprints on the face while I was hanging the device up and found a layer of dust on the hands after a week or so.
The clock comes with a mounting screw and plastic anchor, so you won't need anything special to mount the device to your wall. I stuck mine on a shelf, and that worked fine; the clock is sturdy enough to stand up on its own. The timepiece is battery-powered, and the four AA batteries that power it (included) are supposed to last for a few months.
Connecting the clock to my Echo was a piece of cake. As a millennial, I found the setup much easier than that of the older analogue clock I have at home.
All I had to do was say, "Alexa, set up my Echo Wall Clock," to my Echo. The voice assistant directed me to long-press the pairing button and then open the Alexa app, and using that app, I breezed through the rest of the setup. The clock's hands then set themselves to the correct time (it was a bit eerie to watch them swing around on their own). The hands also automatically adjust to daylight saving time, which is a nice touch. All in all, the process took less than a minute.
One note: The pairing button is located on the back of the clock. That means you'll want to connect the device to Alexa before affixing your clock to your wall. Otherwise, you'll have to take the clock down again to pair. I'd prefer this button to be in a more accessible spot, especially in case I need to pair the devices again or swap in a different Echo.
Back in January, Amazon halted the Wall Clock's sales after a number of users and reviewers reported being unable to pair the clock to their Echos or that the clock continuously dropped its Bluetooth connection. In February, the company released a software update to address the issue and began selling the product again. I'm relieved to report that the pairing process went off without a hitch and that my clock maintained its Bluetooth connection for the entire test period.
Timers, Reminders and Alarms: The only thing this clock does
There's only one thing this clock does that other clocks don't: It visually represents the timers, alarms and reminders that you set with Alexa.
The device handles timers pretty well. Say, "Alexa, set a 1-minute timer," and a full ring of 60 LEDs around the clock's face will light up (45 light up for a 45-second timer, and so on). As the seconds tick away, the LEDs wink out one by one. When the timer runs out, the LED ring pulses, along with the tone that plays on your Alexa speaker. If you set two timers, you'll see the shorter one tick down while the longer one is represented by a single traveling hash.
This visual element is a handy feature; while I was cooking, it was nice to just glance at the clock to check the time left on my timers, rather than asking Alexa. On the other hand, if you're not already using Alexa to set timers, it's not clear to me why using the Echo clock is much better than using the timers on your phone or your oven.
Additionally, the timer doesn't start immediately when you set it. After Alexa responded to my timer request, there was usually about a 5-second delay before said timer was displayed on the clock and started ticking down. If you're looking for a superprecise timer, you'll need to take that delay into account.
The Clock adds nifty effects to alarms and reminders, but these are more fun than they are useful. When a reminder goes off, the LED ring briefly lights up. After you've successfully set an alarm, the lights turn on and off in a pretty swirl pattern. The lights pulse with your alarm tone, as long as it's Alexa's generic sound, but they didn't pulse along (or even turn on) when I set it to music.
If you're looking for cool alarm effects, check out other smart clocks on the market, which do much more. For example, the Beddi Intelligent Alarm Clock has lights that intensify over a set period of time as you wake up; they also pulse and change color along with your music.
The Echo Wall Clock works with only basic Echo speakers (Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Plus, Echo Spot or Echo Input). No third-party speakers, like the Sonos One, or Alexa-enabled products, like the Ecobee4, will work with this device. You're also out of luck if you have a non-Echo Amazon product, such as a Tap, Echo Look, Fire TV or Fire Tablet. And this clock won't work with Echos in multiroom groups.
That's an OK selection, but this timepiece is still one of the least versatile smart-home devices on the market. It'd be nice to see compatibility expand in the future.
The Amazon Ecosystem
The Echo Wall Clock is one of the first releases from a new line of products Amazon calls Alexa Gadgets.
The difference between an Alexa Gadget and any other Alexa device (such as a smart plug or smart bulb) is that Gadgets aren't meant to be stand-alone devices you can control with your voice; they're physical extensions of Alexa. In other words, although I have to tell Alexa to turn my smart plug on and off, the Echo Clock takes actions automatically, based on other things that Alexa is doing.
Gadgets is a small lineup so far, limited to the Clock, Amazon's Echo Buttons, the Big Mouth Billy Bass and some of Gemmy's animatronic plushies. That's not a huge selection, but you can probably imagine what an ecosystem full of these things might look like. Saying, "Alexa, set a tea timer," could activate your clock's LEDs and brighten your lights for the timer's duration, while also turning off your stove when the timer goes off. Or an army of animatronic statues could simultaneously lip-sync your weather report.
The Echo Clock, though simple, is a first glimpse into this smart-home future. The device is the first step into an ecosystem where Alexa doesn't just control your home; it also listens, speaks and responds to you throughout your home. Alexa is your home.
The Echo Wall Clock is an early look into what may be the future of smart homes, and it's commendable for that reason.
On the other hand, it's a clock. The device can do a couple things, one of which is genuinely useful (displaying timers) and two of which are mostly for fun (setting alarms and reminders). If you're already using Alexa for timers, reminders and alarms, this clock is worth your money. Otherwise, it won't add much to your life.
Credit: Tom's Guide
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Monica Chin is a writer at The Verge, covering computers. Previously, she was a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she wrote about everything from artificial intelligence to social media and the internet of things to. She had a particular focus on smart home, reviewing multiple devices. In her downtime, you can usually find her at poetry slams, attempting to exercise, or yelling at people on Twitter.