The Amazon Echo Auto allows you to travel with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. It’s a plain little device that connects to your phone’s Alexa app and provides all of the voice-activated services that your homebound Echo does, including news, sports scores, recipes, shopping lists, and music streaming.
It plugs into your car’s 12-volt outlet (or USB port if you have one) and connects to your phone’s Alexa app. It doesn’t have car-specific features like Alexa-based voice-guided directions, and it occasionally lost connection with my phone during testing, but it’s a cheap way to add some smarts to your car.
Amazon Echo Auto Design and Features
The Echo Auto is a small black rectangle-shaped device that weighs 1.6 ounces and measures 3.3 by 1.9 by 0.5 inches (HWD). On the top, there’s an Action button, a Mute button, and eight microphone holes; on the other end, there’s a micro USB port and a 3.5mm auxiliary port; and on the front, there’s a light strip that glows blue when you ask Alexa a question and alternates between dark and light blue when she responds.
Over the sound of your car’s engine and other background noise, the Echo Auto’s eight microphone array helps it hear what you’re saying. The device has a square indent on the bottom surface that allows it to be attached to the magnetic air vent mount that comes with it. A 3.5mm audio cable, a 12-volt car adapter, a micro USB cable, and a quick start guide are also included in the package.
The Echo Auto is powered by a Mediatek MT7697 processor and includes a Bluetooth radio for connecting to your car’s audio system, as well as your phone and the Alexa app on your smartphone. The device doesn’t have any cellular circuitry; instead, it uses the data plan on your phone to connect to Amazon’s cloud servers.
If you have an unlimited mobile data plan, this won’t be an issue, but if you have a fixed plan, you’ll want to keep an eye on your data usage. You can either use the 12-volt adapter or connect the Echo Auto directly to your car’s USB port. Use the 3.5mm audio cable if your car’s audio system does not support Bluetooth.
The Mediatek MT7697 processor powers the Echo Auto, which also includes a Bluetooth radio for connecting to your car’s audio system, as well as your phone and the Alexa app on your smartphone. The device lacks cellular circuitry and instead connects to Amazon’s cloud servers via your phone’s data plan. This won’t be an issue if you have an unlimited mobile data plan, but if you have a fixed plan, you’ll want to keep track of how much data you use. You can connect the Echo Auto to your car’s USB port or use the 12-volt adapter. If your car’s audio system doesn’t have Bluetooth, use the 3.5mm audio cable.
The Echo Auto, on the other hand, does not provide native driving directions. You can ask Alexa questions like where the nearest gas station is, and she’ll respond with several options, but you’ll need to open a mapping app on your phone and press Go to get turn-by-turn driving directions. The app then takes over and gives you the directions. If you have an iPhone, it’s actually easier to just ask Siri for the same information without touching (or looking at) the screen. The Echo Auto, on the other hand, works with popular mobile mapping apps like Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Waze.
The Alexa mobile app is the same for the Echo Auto as it is for other Echo products. The device has few settings, but you can access them by tapping the Devices button at the bottom of the Home screen, then tapping the Echo and Alexa tab to see a list of all of your installed devices. In the Accessories section, you’ll find the Echo Auto. Adjusting LED brightness, running a sound test, troubleshooting audio issues, seeing which phone the device is connected to, and seeing how the device is connected to the car are all options available here (Bluetooth, cable).
Amazon Echo Auto Performance and Installation
The Echo auto is simple to set up. I heard a chime after connecting it to my car’s USB port, and Alexa instructed me to go to my Alexa app (when it was safe to do so) and add a new device. I opened the app, tapped Add Device, chose Amazon Echo, and then chose Echo Auto from the drop-down menu. I tapped Continue after following the on-screen instructions to attach the device to the air vent. I allowed the device access to my phone’s microphone and location, enabled Bluetooth, and tapped Continue. I waited a few moments for the Echo Auto to appear in the Accessory list, then played a quick audio test clip to finish the setup.
It’s worth noting that the air vent mount isn’t compatible with all types of vents. My Ford F-150, for example, has circular vents with two baffles, and the instructions state that these (and a few other) vents are prohibited. Although I couldn’t use the air vent mount in my truck, it fit perfectly in a slot designed to hold phones and wallets. However, whenever I rolled over a speed bump or a pothole in my wife’s Honda CRV, the vent mount became dislodged and ended up on the floor.
In most cases, the Echo Auto performed as expected during testing. It had no trouble understanding my requests for news, weather, and football scores, but every now and then, I’d ask Alexa to do something, and she’d respond with a message saying the device had lost its connection to the mobile app. It didn’t happen very often, but it was still annoying.
While the device did a good job of locating gas stations and restaurants while driving, having to stop and tap a notification to get driving directions is inconvenient. I was able to turn Philips Hue lights on and off, change the temperature setting on a Honeywell T9 thermostat, and turn on the fan and light on a Big Ass Fan Haiku I Series fan using it.
When you travel, the Amazon Echo Auto makes it simple to take Alexa and all of her skills with you. Simply connect it to your phone’s 12-volt power jack or USB port, pair it with the mobile app, and use it just like your Echo speaker at home to play music, get weather and news updates, check your calendar, or Drop-In on another Echo.
While you’re on the road, you can even use it to control smart devices in your home. Despite the fact that the Echo Auto occasionally lost connection with my phone during testing and lacks a hands-free navigation solution, it remains a reasonably priced way to smarten up your car.
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Amazon Echo Auto
Easy to install