Amazon Echo Series – Part 1: Amazon Echo Unboxing, Set Up, and Initial Review

carrying the amazon echo
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As more and more people are finally getting their Amazon Echo, and more are wanting to order one, we offer our Amazon Echo series, including the unboxing, our review of the Echo and its features and uses, a list of commands for the Echo, and some tips and tricks for the Amazon Echo. This is part 1, with the unboxing, setup, and our initial review.

Like others, we were wondering when our Echo would actually arrive. (See our article on When Will My Amazon Echo Ship.) In our case, we figured out that our Echo was expected to arrive sometime between June 3 and July 9th.

amazon echo shipping date


So we were pretty pleased when it arrived on the very first day of the delivery window, June 3rd.

Oh look! The Amazon Fairy brought us something!
amazon echo shipping box arrived

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What could it be? (We get a lot from Amazon, so it could have been anything.)
amazon echo shipping box opened

A plain, unmarked black box. Still no idea what it is!
amazon echo box out of shipping box

Curiouser and curiouser
amazon echo box label end

Hrrrm…it’s something from Amazon
amazon echo box end

amazon echo box end highlighted


The light finally dawns…it’s our Echo!
amazon echo box opening


Despite our thinking that we weren’t all that excited about the Echo, as we opened the box, we’re pretty sure that we heard a choir of angels.

amazon echo opened box


What’s in the Box
Amazon Echo what is in the box


amazon echo power brick and cord


Amazon Echo, Setup Guide, and List of Commands, Tips and Tricks
amazon echo uses and commands


Amazon Echo Setup Guide
amazon echo setup guide


Getting to Know Your Amazon Echo
getting to know your amazon echo


Amazon Echo Commands, Tips and Tricks
amazon echo tips and tricks


When we first took our Amazon Echo out of its box, and carried it to where we were going to set it up, we noted that holding it felt – well – kind of like holding a baby. Granted, a very short (9.25 inches) and slim (3.25 inches) and light (a little over 2 pounds) baby, but nonetheless, it felt very much like holding a baby. Or maybe that’s just us.

carrying the amazon echo


Before using the Echo, you need to plug it in. The power adapter gets plugged in on the bottom of your Amazon Echo, tucked neatly away, and with a notch to accommodate the cord.

where to connect power cord amazon echo


When you first plug in your Amazon Echo, you will notice a couple of things.

First, a voice coming from your Echo will announce “Hello, your Amazon Echo is ready for setup. Just follow the instructions in your Echo app.” (We’ll get to the app in a minute.)

Also, you will see a blue light circling the top of your Echo.

amazon echo blue light ring


The blue light ring means that your Echo is starting up.

A bit later in the process you may see an orange light ring.

orange light ring amazon echo


The orange light ring on your Amazon Echo means that the Echo is connecting to your Wifi network (but we’re getting slightly ahead of ourselves).

Here is a chart that explains the meanings of the Amazon Echo light ring colors:

Meanings of Amazon Echo Light Ring Colors
meaning of amazon echo light ring colors


After plugging in your Echo, you will need to download the Amazon Echo app, if you haven’t already done so. From this point forward, all of the initial setup of the Amazon Echo is done through the app.

Download the Amazon Echo app for iPhone and iOS here

Download the Amazon Echo app for Android here


amazon echo app


Once your Echo is set up, you can access it through the app in addition to speaking to your Echo directly. You can also access it through the [destination content has been removed at other end :~( ] if you are logged in to your Amazon account. And yes, you can control your Amazon Echo even when you’re not home, using the app or the web app. (Although of course the voice control only works when you are within earshot of the Echo.)

After downloading the app, open it, and sign in to your regular Amazon account

amazon echo app sign in


Then you will begin the actual setup of your Echo.

amazon echo setup from app


You may have already plugged in your Echo, and already have the orange light ring, but in case you haven’t, now is the time to plug it in.

amazon echo app wait for the orange light ring


This next step may seem a little weird, but trust us, it works. You are going to connect your iPhone or Android phone to your Echo, as if the Echo were your wifi router.

connect phone to amazon echo


amazon echo network as router


When you have done that successfully, your Echo will announce “You’ve connected to Echo, go ahead and finish the setup in your Echo app,” and you will see this screen on your phone:

phone connected to echo


Now that you have successfully connected to your Echo via your phone, you will use the app to connect your Echo to your home wifi network.

select echo wifi network

connect echo to home wifi

In case you’re wondering what those ‘advanced options’ are:

echo wifi advanced options


When you have successfully connected your Echo to your home wifi, the app will display this screen:

preparing your echo


Once your Echo is connected to your network and done being ‘prepared’, the last step in the actual set up part of the setup is activating the remote. To do this, first be sure to peel off the protective film on the business end of the remote.

amazon echo remote peel off film


connect amazon echo remote to echo


Once your setup is completed, the app will take you to your Amazon Echo home screen, where it may offer a ‘helpful’ suggestion to get you started.

amazon echo setup complete


You are now ready to play and explore with your Amazon Echo!

To talk to your Echo – i.e. to use voice commands – you have to preface each command with what Amazon calls the “wake word”. The Echo comes with a default wake word of “Alexa”, and as of the time of this writing, the only other option is “Amazon”. You can change the wake word from Alexa to Amazon in the settings section of the app (so far we don’t know of anybody who has decided to change it from Alexa to Amazon – let us know if you do!)

change amazon echo name wake word


The first thing that we did was to try out some of the commands suggested on the little Amazon Echo Command list cheat sheet that came included with the Echo. Here is that list again, so that you don’t have to scroll up:

List of Amazon Echo Commands
amazon echo tips and tricks


Examples of Amazon Echo commands include “Alexa, play {name of musician, music genre, etc.}”, “Alexa, set an alarm for {time}”, “Alexa, set a time for {amount of time”, and “Alexa, what’s the weather?”

We enjoyed saying things like “Alexa, play Vivaldi’s 4 seasons”, “Alexa, play Mozart”, and “Alexa, play Alberta Hunter”. Of course, it works for more contemporary music too, but you get the idea.

We’ll get more in-depth about the music options in a later article, but suffice to say that the music options are legion. You can access the entire Amazon Music catalogue with your Echo, as well as Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn Radio. If you are an Amazon Prime customer (and we highly recommend it as being well worth it), you can also listen to a bazillion Amazon Prime Music stations. You can read a full description of what you get with Amazon Prime here, and while it is now $99 per year, it’s still well worth it.

Note that to get the local weather, you need to be sure to set your correct zip code within the app:

amazon echo app settings

amazon echo location zip code setting


Once you have your zip code set up properly, you can also get news for your area, as well as national and international news via such news outlets as NPR, both pre-recorded shows and current news headlines.

Note that despite the term “flash briefing”, this does not spontaneously give you news flashes (at least, not yet). You have to ask Alexa to give you the news.

amazon echo flash briefing

amazon echo news settings


Even with just a few hours hands-on with our Echo, so far, we can say that the Amazon Echo is definitely worth it. In fact, we are beyond suprised at how much we are enjoying it and using it.

We’ll be going into more depth and details about the things that you can do with an Amazon Echo – including an astonishing amount of music-related things – plus fun things you can do remotely, and some so-called easter eggs, in our next installments of our Amazon Echo series.

Right now you still have to request an invitation to get on the waiting list to buy an Amazon Echo. You can request an invitation to buy an Amazon Echo here.

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