Amazon's Echo Loop looks to put Alexa at your fingertip — or nearly so. This smart ring, available for $129, has a miniscule microphone and speaker, letting you access Amazon's voice assistant on your hand. After giving the Echo Loop a whirl, I'm not ready to say I do to another wearable just yet.
Amazon Echo Loop Price and Availability
The Echo Loop is $129, and is available via invite only from Amazon's website. The Echo Loop is part of Amazon's Day 1 program; along with such devices as the Echo Frames and Echo Auto, the Echo Loop is a product that Amazon is using to test how popular the concept is. Given the fate of other smart rings, it's a wise precaution.
Echo Loop Design
For a largeish metal ring — it's titanium on the outside and stainless steel on the inside — the Echo Loop is surprisingly light. The top section of the ring bulges slightly, which makes it a bit more obvious than, say, a wedding ring.
The Echo Loop is meant to be worn on your index finger — there's a small button on the side of the ring that you press with your thumb to activate Alexa. When you press the button, the Loop vibrates slightly to let you know that Alexa is listening.
Built into the Loop is a teeny tiny microphone and a teeny tiny speaker — Amazon says it's the smallest they've ever used — so when you want to hear what Alexa is saying, you have to hold the Loop up to your ear, like you were a Secret Service agent.
The Echo Loop will come in four sizes. When you order the ring, Amazon will send you a sizing ki so you can get the one that best fits your finger.
Using Alexa with the Echo Loop
The Loop is designed for those times when you're out of range of one of your smart speakers, but absolutely want to use Alexa.
It's easy to use. Just tap the button, ask Alexa what you want, which can be pretty much anything Amazon's other smart speakers are capable of, and then lift the Loop to your ear to listen.
Not surprisingly, the Loop's tiny speaker doesn't put out much sound. You could conceivably hear it at arm's length in a quiet room, but more likely you'll hold it to your ear. It works, but the motion feels a bit awkward, at least more so than when using the Echo Frames.
Then again, Amazon only intends the Loop to be used for very small, short interactions. A representative said that while it would be fine for brief phone calls, it wouldn't be practical for longer conversations.
Amazon Echo Loop Battery Life
Amazon says the Echo Loop should last up to a day on a charge, as most interactions with the Loop should only be a few seconds long. The inside of the Loop has a few metal contacts which align with a small charging cradle.
Amazon Echo Loop Outlook
Amazon says that the Echo Loop is meant for short, quick interactions with Alexa, such as adding something to a shopping list, or getting a quick reminder of an event. However, you'd have to be very heavily invested in using Alexa for it to outweigh the inconvenience of wearing a somewhat bulky smart ring.
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