Echo Input Portable Edition Review: Solid Speaker with Alexa’s Smartness
A smart take from Amazon
Voice assistants have become an integral part of a smart home setup, be it to play songs or to control connected devices. Amazon has been at the forefront of this with their Alexa integrated Echo speakers. However, what’s common between those speakers is that they need to be plugged in at all times and need to be connected to your Wi-Fi network in order to function. Essentially, they are not portable and are meant to sit on your desk at all times.
The Echo Input Portable Edition aims to change exactly that. The first-gen Echo Input was a device that could be plugged into a wired/wireless speaker in order to make it smart. Amazon has gone one step further with the second-gen and has integrated a full-fledged speaker into the package. This means you now have a portable Bluetooth speaker with support for Alexa that you can carry around with you. Is it worth Rs 3,499 though? We will tell you.
The Echo Input Portable Edition has the typical look that most Echo devices carry. A matte plastic body with a fabric exterior. The speaker looks premium and is quite stealthy in the black color that we have. It is also built really well and feels robust. The speaker as a nice heft to it which feels reassuring, but the fact that it’s heavy also means it adds a considerable amount of weight to your backpack.
The bottom part of the speaker has a layer of rubber to prevent it from slipping on any surface. The front of the speaker has the power button along with the volume buttons that are slightly mushy for our liking. A micro-USB port resides on the opposite side of the buttons through which you can charge the speaker. It would’ve been nice to see a USB-C port.
The top of the speaker has two buttons – one, to activate Alexa if you do not wish to use the hot word, and two, a button to mute the microphones when not in use. Speaking about microphones, we get a four-mic array on the top which in our experience did a fantastic job at identifying all voice commands even from one end of a room to the other. The microphones are listening all the time and the detection even while a song is playing is quite good. There is also an LED light on the top which lights up each time Alexa is triggered, or a function is performed.
Since we are talking about a speaker, the quality of sound it produces is above everything else and the Echo Input Portable Edition does a great job here. The 360-degree throw of the Echo Input means you get even sound regardless of which direction the device is facing. The bass is adequate and not overpowering, something that we personally prefer. Vocals are clear and the instrument separation is also good. As a matter of fact, we found the output of the Echo Input to be better than that of the Echo Dot 3rd generation. Amazon has done a fine job here and while the audio quality may not be as good as other speakers in this range, but the added functionality of Alexa evens it out.
You can even connect your phone or any other device via Bluetooth and use it as a standalone speaker. However, if you plan on watching videos or movies on your phone with the Echo Input as your audio source, you would be disappointed to know that there is a slight latency in audio so it’s not the most ideal experience.
All of Alexa’s Smart Prowess
Apart from being just a speaker, the Echo Input Portable Edition offers all the smart features that you expect from an Echo device. You can use it to control appliances like lightbulbs, you can ask questions about anything you like, check the weather forecast, ask for news, and of course, play your favorite songs. All this in a device that you can take along with you, or even keep in your car and use your phone’s hotspot to connect to the internet while you’re on the move.
Long Battery Life
The Echo Input Portable Edition has a 4,800 mAh battery which can get you about eight hours of use on a single charge. It is advised to turn the speaker off when not in use to conserve battery, as the microphones are always active and listening even if you are not playing anything on the speaker. The fact that it is connected to the internet at all times also drains the battery if the speaker is not switched off. There are four LED indicators above the power button to show the battery percentage.
The speaker takes about four hours to fully charge so this is something you need to keep in mind if you want to take it out with you on a long trip. However, the good part is that you can use the speaker even while it is charging. Given that the battery capacity is high, it would be nice if there was an included USB-out port through which you could use the speaker as a power bank in emergency situations.
Should You Buy it?
The Echo Input Portable Edition was launched at a price of Rs 4,999 in India. But, over time, the price has now fallen to Rs. 3,499 which in our opinion makes it a sure-shot pick (even better in the US where it retails for $34.99). If you are looking to get a Bluetooth speaker, you might as well spend a little bit extra and get the Echo Input as you get added smart functionality along with a speaker that has great output. It may not sound as good as other dedicated speakers in the price range or it may not have the best battery life, combine all of this with the functionality of Alexa and you get a worthy package, that is the Echo Input Portable Edition.
- Good sound quality
- Alexa Integration
- Battery life could have been better
- Noticeable latency while watching videos
The first-gen Echo Input was a device that could be plugged into a wired/wireless speaker in order to make it smart. Amazon has gone one step further with the second-gen and has integrated a full-fledged speaker into the package. This means you now have a portable Bluetooth speaker with support for Alexa that you can carry around with you. Is it worth Rs 3,499 though? We will tell you.