To sum up this Amazon Echo Flex review: this is the best smart speaker if you're looking for something small and cheap to control your smart home, but you don't need a fully-fledged speaker.
With the Amazon Echo Flex, you can have Alexa everywhere and anywhere from the hallway to your bedside or even out in the garage. You won't need a table to place it on and messy cables won't get in your way, it just plugs directly into your wall socket.
Not only can you use it in the same way as any Alexa device but it also has a USB port that allows you to charge your phone, or add in extra smart tech like a motion sensor, nightlight or digital clock.
Find out everything you need to know in this Amazon Echo Flex review.
Amazon Echo Flex review: price and availability
Pick up the Amazon Echo Flex starting from $24.99 in the US and £9.99 in the UK, it’s not yet available in Australia. This is actually the cheapest way to have Alexa in your home. Take a look at the widgets on this page to see where you can buy one.
You can get the optional motion sensor, nightlight or digital clock for an extra $14.99 in the US and £14.99 in the UK from Third Reality.
Amazon Echo Flex review: design, setup and features
Measuring 22.5 x 14.6 x 10.1cm, the Amazon Echo Flex looks more like a smart plug than a smart speaker. It has a small blue light to let you know when Alexa is listening and there’s a microphone mute button. Above that, the multifunction button can put Alexa in setup mode or activate the microphone. Admittedly, the latter seems a little pointless because you can just say 'Alexa' to activate the smart assistant. On the underside, you’ll find a USB port to expand Alexa’s capabilities or to charge your devices.
Like any Amazon Echo device, setting up the Amazon Echo Flex is easy. Just plug it into a power socket, make sure your phone has Bluetooth switched on and then open the Alexa app. It’ll automatically prompt you to set up the device, you’ll just need to tap through the steps. The app will do the rest for you. It took me less than 3 minutes to get the Amazon Echo Flex up and running.
While the Amazon Echo Flex does have a built-in mini speaker, if you want to listen to music from services like Spotify or Apple Music you might want to improve on the sound, in which case you can also connect a separate speaker using a 3.5mm audio cable or Bluetooth.
As with any Alexa smart speaker, you can use the Echo Flex to get the answers to your burning questions, set timers and reminders or hear the news. You can also use the Amazon Echo Flex to control the smart home devices around your home. I had the speaker in my hallway and used it to control my Philips Hue light strip I have there, and my lights everywhere else for that matter - it’s just a case of saying 'Alexa, turn on the living room lights'. Simple!
You can buy optional extras for the USB port on the bottom of the device, I tested out the Amazon Echo Flex with the Third Reality motion sensor attachment and then with the digital clock attachment.
The clock was useful when I had the speaker plugged in next to the bed as it turned it into a bedside alarm clock, but I really enjoyed testing out the motion sensor. It allows you to create routines when it detects movements, so for instance, I had it set up to turn on the hallway lights when I walk past it after 6pm. That way the house lights up as I get home from work - brilliant!
Amazon Echo Flex review: performance
Given the fact that it is so small with an equally miniature speaker, the sound on the Amazon Echo Flex isn’t great. In fact, it’s very tinny. You won’t get much in the way of volume either so you’ll need to be close by to hear Alexa’s responses. This isn't meant to be a fully-fledged smart speaker so you can’t really expect it to be a replacement for that.
If you want to listen to music it’ll be best to hook it up to a separate speaker through Bluetooth or a 3.5mm audio cable. It’ll also work alongside your multiroom speakers, whether they have Alexa built-in or not. However you choose to connect, it'll be easy to do.
Alexa works just as well as on any other Echo device, understanding your questions and responding as you need her to almost every time, as well as working seamlessly with the rest of your smart home. Having the potential to be customised with extra accessories is one of the biggest benefits of the Amazon Echo Flex, even with the extra attachments it's still a very compact device.
I used it alongside the optional motion sensor by Third Reality, I had it plugged in by the front door so that when I come home after 6pm, the lights would turn on as I walk in. It worked really well and pretty much every time I went near it. The sensor was so sensitive that it’d pick up movement even when I wasn’t directly in front of it.
Amazon Echo Flex review: verdict
No one needs to have Alexa in their hallway or garage, but if you did want one there then the Amazon Echo Flex will be the best option. Or, if you want one for your bedside but you lack space then this could be a good choice for that as well.
I won't beat around the bush, the sound quality is rubbish. The Amazon Echo Flex won’t replace a smart speaker but it's not really meant to. What it will do is give you hands-free control over your smart home from literally anywhere in the house. Plus, having the potential to add attachments like the Third Reality motion sensor or nightlight makes it an even more convincing buy. I personally think this is a really handy little piece of kit.
If you're looking for a tiny, cable-free way to control your smart home by voice then there’s nothing else like the Amazon Flex available right now.
Amazon Echo Flex review: also consider
If you do have a small table in your hallway or a work surface in your garage, you may not necessarily need something so small. In which case you might find the Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) makes more sense as it can be used as a speaker as well.
Not everyone is on board with Amazon Alexa, so if you're more of a Google Assistant type of person then one of the smallest smart speakers you can buy is the Google Nest Mini - you will still be plagued by cables, though.
You might have clicked onto this review looking for one of the best smart plugs, if that's what you're after then take a look at the TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim KP115. It can be controlled using your Alexa smart devices, and TP-Link offers a range of different smart lights and motion-sensing cameras as well.
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