Amazon Echo Loop

Alexa users can always count on Amazon’s voice assistant for a hand, and with the $129.99 Echo Loop smart ring, they can have Alexa wrapped around their finger. Currently available on an invitation-only basis, the Loop is an Amazon Day 1 Edition product (essentially a beta device you pay for) that gives you access to Alexa with the tap of a button. As usual, you can ask Alexa to answer questions, set reminders, create to-do and shopping lists, get directions and the weather, control connected smart home devices, make calls, and more. If you’re a virtual assistant power user, it offers a new level of convenience, letting you summon not only Alexa but Google Assistant or Siri wherever you are without having to reach for your phone. But some features didn’t work in testing, and the ring is bulky, especially on smaller hands. It’s an interesting wearable for sure, but not necessarily one I see many people wearing.

Design and Sizing

Made of black titanium-coated stainless steel, the Echo Loop has an action button on the outside that summons Alexa when clicked. It features two microphones so Alexa can hear you, and a tiny built-in speaker so you can hear the virtual assistant’s response. The microphones and speaker are both located on the bottom of the ring. 

Image of the Echo Loop's action buttonSetup

The Echo Loop connects to your Android or iOS phone via Bluetooth, so it won’t work if your handset is out of range. It uses your smartphone’s cellular or Wi-Fi connection and the Alexa app for connectivity. 

To get started, plug the included micro USB cable into the charging cradle and the other end into a USB power adapter, then place the ring on the cradle, making sure to line up the charging contacts. When it’s charging, you’ll see a yellow light flashing on the cradle. When it’s fully charged, the light turns green. If you don’t see a light, it’s not charging.

The device is outfitted with magnets, which help you position it for proper charging, but it’s still easy to misalign the charging contacts, so be sure you see the light on top of the cradle illuminate. It took about 90 minutes to fully juice up, though I did take it off the charger a few times to examine it. 

Image of the Echo Loop's charging cradleHow to Use the Echo Loop

Unlike most other Echo devices, you don’t say, “Alexa,” to summon the virtual assistant. When you want to talk to Alexa via the Loop, you need to click the action button quickly. When you feel a vibration, hold the ring near your mouth and speak your command or question into its microphone.

Image of the Echo Loop's speaker and microphonePerformance and Battery Life 

Most of the time, the Loop had no problem recognizing my questions or requests, but a few times it said, “Please try again,” perhaps because I spoke too soon after tapping the action button, so be sure to wait for the vibration before you speak. 

Image of the Echo LoopWyze Bulb, and was able to turn it on and off via the ring without issue. You just tap the action button and say, “Turn off my living room lamp.” I also have Alexa connected to the Proscenic M7 Pro robot vacuum/mop, and I was able to make it start cleaning via the Echo Loop by tapping the action button and saying, “Alexa, ask smart bot [the robot’s nickname] to start cleaning.”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the calling feature to work. I assigned a top contact in the Alexa app, but every time I double tapped the Echo Loop’s action button to call them, it said, “Calling your top contact,” and then never did, or “Connecting…please try again.” 

The only way I could make calls via the Loop was to summon Siri on my connected iPhone with a one-second press of the action button. When I asked Siri to make calls, they had no problem going through.

As for battery life, Amazon says that with intermittent usage, the Echo Loop will last a day. In testing, however, it didn’t last a full 24 hours before dying. 

Conclusions

The Echo Loop smart ring puts Alexa (or your voice assistant of choice) close at hand at all times. Just press the action button to add something to your shopping list, set a reminder, ask about the weather forecast, or control Alexa-connected smart home devices. It’s a neat idea, but the current iteration is bulky, and limited sizing options make it tough to get a good fit. Moreover, some of the Echo Loop’s calling features wouldn’t work in testing, and its audio and battery life are weak. Unless you’re an Alexa power user with $129.99 to burn on what is essentially a beta product, you’re better off relying on your phone or smart speaker until Amazon makes some refinements to the Loop.

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Further Reading

August 30, 2020
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