A year with Alexa – The beginning of our Smart Home

A dream of mine was to one day have a whole house built-in stereo system that I could run off an app.  I knew it would be quite expensive so I thought it would be years before that made it to the top of our home improvement list.  Then last year Amazon came out with a voice controlled bluetooth speaker and without hesitation we bought it.

Alexa

It’s been a year since we got Alexa and I can’t imagine living without her now.  The Amazon Echo or Alexa costs $179.99 and the voice remote is $29.99.  If you are an Amazon Prime member (if you are not then you should be immediately) then shipping is free and they guarantee it will arrive in 2 days.

What is Alexa?  It is a voice controlled bluetooth speaker with 7 microphones around the top that are always on waiting for you to wake her by saying (sometimes yelling if music is playing loudly) “Alexa”.  Click the video to see how easy it is to check the weather.  We have an excessive heat warning in West Chester, PA today and also my cat Sadie wanted to say hi!

What can Alexa do?  She plays music from a variety of sources:  your library, Amazon Prime library, Spotify, Pandora, iHeart radio & TuneIn.  You can also have Alexa read books from your Kindle library in a weird robotic voice or if you have an Amazon audible account you can play your audio books through Alexa.  You can ask her for traffic and weather.  You can set a timer or an alarm.  You can ask her a silly question like with Siri on your iPhone.  You can also hook her up to a hub to control smart home devices through voice control.  Click the video to see how easy it is to play music.

How can you control Alexa?  Through your voice.  You use the wake word “Alexa”, then she lights up and you can ask or command away.  There is an Alexa app as well where you can just click what song you’d like her to play.  Also, there is a voice remote.  I keep the remote in my office which is located in our 2nd floor loft while our first floor Alexa is downstairs in our foyer.  To use the voice activated remote all you need to do is press a button and speak into the remote and it works just as if you are standing next to her.  There is also a play/pause button so if I get a phone call I can quickly stop the music playing downstairs to take the call.

Can you integrate Alexa into a Smart Home?  Yes!  Once we learned all the things Alexa could do we spent a lot of time and effort and we now have a smart home.  We can now control our lights, heating, air conditioning, front door, outside lights & even christmas lights through Alexa.  We love Alexa so much we bought a 2nd Alexa for our basement.  There are 2 times I am aware of to get deals on Alexa.  We got our basement Alexa on Cyber Monday last year for $149.  Amazon just had Amazon Prime day on July 12th and Alexa was selling for $129.99 which is a great deal!  Stay tuned to my website and soon I’ll give you a tour of my smart home.

Here are links to all of the products we’ve used in our SmartHome:

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