Guide: Amazon Alexa–The rising star of smart home products!

What you need to know about the Alexa

Alexa is Amazon’s virtual assistant that powers the company’s first-party Echo speakers and other ones from different companies. Similar to something like Apple’s Siri or the Google Assistant, Alexa can tell you about the local weather, check calendar appointments, control smart home devices, and so much more.

Smart speakers are the most common form factor you’ll find Alexa on, but the AI has also made its way to smartphones, true wireless earbuds, smart glasses, and even some smartwatches like the Fitbit Versa 3.

Amazon updates Alexa all the time to make it smarter than the day before, meaning that it’s constantly changing and evolving.

Ok, here are something about the Echo

On the other hand, Echo is the brand Amazon uses to market and sell its smart speakers and many of its devices that are powered by Alexa.

The number, size, and form factor of the best Alexa devices has exploded over the past few years, from small smart plug style gadgets like the Echo Flex on up to room-filling audiophile speakers like the Echo Studio. The best Echo show speakers even come with screens and touch interfaces for an added dimension of usefulness.

The Echo Show 5, Echo Show 8, and Echo Show 10 are three of the most recent examples of this form factor.

Amazon’s Echo speakers aren’t the only ones you can buy that have Alexa, but they do offer the best overall experience. Alexa works mostly the same on Echo speakers as it does on third-party ones, but some things like Alexa Guard only work with Echo devices.

Which Echo is right for you?


There are plenty of third-party Alexa speakers out there, but if you want the best possible experience, we recommend getting an official Amazon Echo device. While that does help to narrow things down a bit, there’s still a lot you need to consider before throwing your money down for one.

A lot of people might be inclined to go with the regular Echo (4th Gen), but if you want to save some cash, the Echo Dot (4th Gen) or Echo Dot with Clock (4th Gen) offer a virtually identical experience in a smaller form factor and for less money. Provided you need easy Alexa access in a tight space like a washroom, hallway, or garage, the Echo Flex puts an Echo device wherever there is an outlet. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Echo Studio and Echo Show 10 raise the price, sound quality, and features and also include extras like a built-in Zigbee smart home hub.

If you’re already getting a little overwhelmed, check out our guide to the best Alexa speakers, where we help find the perfect Echo for your wants and needs.

Skills supercharge the Alexa experience


Alexa is able to do a lot out of the box, but if you want to supercharge your experience, you’ll want to check out Alexa Skills. Skills are essentially add-ons for Alexa that enable new functionality for specific things. For example, the iRobot skill allows Alexa to talk to Roomba vacuums, whereas the Relax My Dog skill plays special music that’s designed to keep your good boy calm and less anxious.

It is not difficult to find, enable, and disable Alexa Skills at will through the Alexa app or on Amazon’s website. There are a ton of great options, but some of our favorite Alexa skills include Animal Workout, Food Network Kitchen, and Cleaning Buddy.