Amazon Echo Buds review
It’s a wonder that Echo Buds didn’t arrive sooner. Earbuds (I still can’t write “hearables” without cringing a bit) are the clearest path to making Alexa work outside of the home. Amazon, after all, has been unable to crack the smartphone category. Half a decade later, the Fire Phone is little more than a historical curiosity, while Google and Apple have had massive mobile footprints to spread their smart assistants.
Amazon has dabbled in mobile, with a downloadable Alexa app and Fire Tablet functionality. Last year, the company announced the Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit, which is designed to bring the AI to more devices. Certainly it makes sense as a third-party partner for companies that don’t have the resources or desire to develop their own assistant. The latest Fitbit Versa might be the best example of such an alliance.
From a pure user experience standpoint, however, headphones are the most logical conduit. They’re positioned closest to the mouth for voice commands via microphone and, obviously, offer a direct route into the ear for Alexa responses. In waiting to see how the market shakes out, the company has ceded potential market share.
There’s a lot about the Echo Buds that would have made them an excellent addition to the category two or three years ago. But the category is among the fastest moving in consumer electronics. Samsung, Sony and Apple/Beats all have excellent offerings, and Amazon opening up Alexa to hardware companies has all but assured that third-party products from companies will eclipse the Echo Buds shortly.
The company does get some things right on its first go. If there’s one thing the Echo Buds really have going for them, it’s customization. For the earbuds themselves, that means not only the customary replaceable silicone tips, but also wings to help them stay in place in the ear. I’ve never been a fan of the hard plastic wings, but the soft silicone covers that slip over the buds are a nice touch.
They’re available in three sizes, so you should be able to find a decent fit. Once everything is in place, the buds should form a nice seal t