Echo Flex — Maybe the Best Echo You’ve Never Heard (of)

Amazon Echo FlexI’m guessing the Amazon Flex is probably beingĀ  returned in large numbers. Which is unfortunate. There’s really nothing wrong with the product, I fact it’s awesome! However, it may not fit the perception of what an Echo device should be.

You may have noticed a not too subtle pun in the title. So, let’s address the Flex’s biggest shortcoming — the speaker. It’s okay for listening to Alexa’s speech. Horrible for music. If your idea of an Echo device is that you’re going to communicate from across the room, listen to some music, and control devices. You’ll be 1/3 happy.

So why buy a Flex with a tin(n)y little speaker? First reason is the price. You can buy one right now on Amazon for $9.99, shipped free with Prime. However, because a good percentage of these are likely being returned, there appears to be an ample supply in the Amazon Warehouse from only $6.99 Amazon.com: Buying Choices: Echo Flex – Plug-in mini smart speaker with Alexa

Second reason, there’s no external adapter. There’s a built-in plug on the back and adapter inside. Which means this Echo can go places others can’t. There’s also a USB-A port on the bottom. Not only could this be used to charge your phone, it could power a Bluetooth speaker.

Which brings us to the third reason, connectivity. The Flex comes with a 3.5 mm stereo plug. Connect an RCA audio adapter to the input of your home audio system, and you can listen to Amazon music with BIG sound. Or, use the built-in Bluetooth to sync to a speaker. With the Flex’s USB port used for power. Finally, the Flex connects over Wi-Fi, so no cables are needed.

Fourth reason, it has a great microphone. Is there’s an area of your house that doesn’t have a Dot, but you want to control smart devices? Simply plug in the Echo Flex. Now you have coverage in your garage, or a hallway. It also works great for changing the song or the volume when connected to a Bluetooth speaker, or audio system.

Oh, I almost forgot. There are add-on devices that connect to the USB port on the bottom. There’s a motion sensor, night light, and clock. They’re priced about $15 each. I don’t see a compelling use case for any of them. Maybe if you wanted to motion control a light without rewiring the switch?

I’ll admit, I was a skeptic. Bought one for $7 anyway. Plugged it in on a bathroom counter. Sync’d a small Bluetooth speaker I already had near it. Connected a short cable to the USB port for power. Now the family can listen to music while in the shower, or getting ready. With much better sound than an Echo Dot. Since then, we’ve added one on our home audio system. It’s connected unobtrusively in a nearby outlet. Also one in a bedroom, just to control lights and devices. Total investment, under $25. How can you Flex your Echo skills with this handy little device?