Echo Auto Review: Amazon Alexa for Dumb Cars
Echo Auto: The Alexa Speaker for Cars
It has an 8 microphone array that can hear pretty much anything even against the sound of an engine, A/C, loud music, and strong winds.
This rectangular speaker works by pairing with your car's Bluetooth or AUX input and your phone's Alexa app. The Echo Auto utilizes your smartphone's data plan in lieu of a WiFi connection.
The Auto comes with a dual port car adapter, a Micro USB cable, and an optional 3.5mm AUX cable.
The product works like any other Alexa speaker, which is able to answer questions, play music/podcasts/audiobooks, tell you the news/sports/traffic, call & text people, and so much more.
However the difference between the Auto and any other speaker is in its utilization.
The Amazon Echo is mainly an at-home device so it doesn't need as many microphones to pick up your voice whereas the Echo Auto was designed for cars meaning it has to hear your commands in the loudest of settings.
It's a fascinating idea, and the Echo Auto is one of the best ways to get Alexa in the 2nd or 3rd most spent location aka your car.
Note: The Amazon Echo Auto is available through Amazon.com by invitation only at a reduced price of $25 (normally $50). If you're interested in trying this device then please request an invite and wait until Amazon gets back to you.
3.3" x 1.9" x 0.5" (85mm x 47mm x 13.28mm)
1.6oz (45 grams)
Echo Auto uses smartphone's data plan + Alexa app for connectivity
Android 6.0+/iOS 12+
Smartphones Not Compatible
Alcatel One Touch, Alcatel Pixi 4, Google Nexus 4-6, HTC Desire 610, HTC M8/9, Huawei Honor 4C/Mate SE, Le Eco LePro 3, LG Tribute HD, ZTE Blade A510, Samsung Galaxy J2/3
Car Bluetooth - AUX Input, Best w/Non Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
HFP/A2DP/AVRCP & Serial port profile for BT connectivity to Android phones + iPod accessory protocol for BT connectivity to iPhones
8 Microphone Array, Supports AUX audio output
Mediatek MT7697, Intel Dual DSP w/Interence Engine
Press button to turn on/off
Press button to start setup or wake up Alexa
Electrical Rating (Auto/Adapter)
5V=1A, 5.25V=4A (dual ports)
Storage Temperature (Auto/Adapter/Car Mount)
-40F to 185F (-40C to 85C)
Operating Temperature (Adapter & Auto/Car Mount)
-4F to 122F (-20C to 50C), -4F to 131F (-20C to 55C)
1 year limited warranted + service w/1-3 year optional extended
Echo Auto - In-Car Power Adapter - Micro USB Cable (1m) - 3.5mm AUX Cable (1m) - Quick Start Guide
Amazon Echo Auto: Things to Try
Setting up your Auto is as easy as plugging it in and pairing it with either your car's Bluetooth or AUX input. They even throw in a car vent mount where you can place the device on.
After that just connect it to your phone's Alexa app and you're good to go. Now you can use Alexa for almost anything and there's lots to do.
Things Your Car's Alexa Can Do
- Play music from Spotify, Apple, Pandora, Amazon, and SiriusXM
- Listen to audiobooks or podcasts
- Hear the news, weather and sports or traffic updates
- Search for local gas stations, stores, and restaurants nearby & get directions through Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps (shows up on your phone)
- Get answers to basic questions & check your calendars
- Activate 1000's of skills and games
- Create and listen to shopping lists, to-do lists, and reminders
- Call, text, or drop-in on friends & family if they have the Alexa app or compatible Alexa speaker/s
- Control smart home devices and create location based routines (Alexa uses your phone's GPS to activate devices when you're leaving or coming home).
That's a ton of things to use your Echo Auto for though they vary in reliability. I think the music playback controls, podcasts, news and Audible commands work best with to-do lists, reminders, and shopping lists coming in at a close 2nd.
The location based routines, skills, traffic and local search is far less effective and even the Google Maps integration isn't the best. Everything else ranks in the middle though your experience will likely differ from my own.
Still, you have a lot of options and I'm sure you'll find something that will match your habits & routine perfectly.
The Best & Worst of Echo Auto
I have mixed feelings about the Echo Auto but I lean more positive than most of the other reviews I've seen.
There are a lot of great things about this device especially these three below.
Top 3 Pros
- An eight microphone array can hear nearly every command in the loudest of settings and Echo Auto listens better than most Alexa speakers.
- The Alexa voice assistant can handle a lot of various things and is nearly on par with the Google Assistant particularly for smart home devices.
- With Bluetooth and AUX input capabilities, it's a great fit for older cars/vehicles that don't have Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, or their own infotainment system.
The microphone array is fantastic, the speaker is super easy to set up, the Alexa assistant can handle multiple queries, and I love the AUX input option since my car's Bluetooth doesn't work.
I think the Echo Auto could be a boon for older cars that only have an AUX port and don't have Android Auto, CarPlay, or other infotainment systems.
But not everything works as well as advertised and there are a few issues that can't be ignored
Top 3 Cons
- Not useful for newer vehicles that have Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, and even a lot of premium smartphones have great built-in voice assistants like Google that can make your Echo Auto feel useless.
- Alexa for Auto can't do everything (set timers, use certain skills) and some of its features like local search do not work very well. Alexa may also glitch on/off sometimes depending on the smartphone you're using.
- With the Micro USB and 3.5mm AUX cable your car could get messy fast. The car mount does have a slot that'll hold your cables but it's still going to look cluttered.
If your car has Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, or some other excellent infotainment system then this product is pretty much useless.
Nowadays even premium phones have spectacular built-in assistants that can hear you well though my Samsung S10+ Google assistant wasn't able to hear me as well as Alexa on the Echo Auto.
What might be worse, however, is that not all of Alexa's features perform. The location based routines, business search, and many skills do not function very well; some basic features like timers don't even work.
Alexa has also glitched on a few occasions, which is worrisome considering I used a premium Galaxy phone to pair with the product.
Finally, the wire situation could get a bit chaotic. My Echo Auto is on top of the car mount hooked to an air vent with 2 long cables (Micro USB, AUX) dangling from the device. The mount's cable holder helped some but it still looks busy.
So yeah not everything's peachy, but I believe there's a lot of benefit to this product if it's utilized correctly.
Echo Auto: Final Review
So is the Echo Auto really worth buying?
Whether or not it's worth the cost depends on what vehicle you've got although I don't think a $50 speaker will crush your finances.
I would give the Echo Auto 3.5 out of 5 stars.
The listening capabilities on this thing are very good, I may even replace my Echo Dot with one of these. However for smarter cars, the Auto will only go so far. It's not great for high tech vehicles but it's quite terrific for dumb ones.
I like that they included an AUX cable, car adapter & car vent mount, and that's honestly a great deal for $25 or $50 bucks. On top of that you have the fantastic Alexa voice assistant, which can do practically anything. I enjoyed using the Echo Auto for music, and it's so nice not having to shout my commands.
Is it the perfect Alexa speaker...no...but it has a lot of potential.
If you own an older vehicle that only has an AUX port and you're familiar with Alexa, then I would recommend giving this product a chance. At $50 or $25 via invite you're not risking much and you may end up loving this speaker.
The Echo Auto isn't for everybody but for those who can't afford an infotainment system or high-tech vehicle, then it's a perfectly reasonable and affordable smart upgrade to an otherwise dumb car.