First look: Amazon Echo Auto brings Alexa on your next road trip

Amazon has long been known for putting good things in small packages. That was the basis of its shopping model, and that philosophy has made it all the way to the latest batch of devices like the Amazon Echo Dot and brand-new Amazon Echo Input

Starting later this year, you can add a new device to the ‘small but mighty’ category: the Amazon Echo Auto. 

This device promises to pack Alexa into the car or truck at a price most folks can afford and, when it arrives, you’ll be able to access all of Alexa’s some 50,000 skills wherever you go – make calls with Alexa and use your favorite streaming music services via voice commands wherever the road takes you. (And yes, that includes routines as well.)

Like the original Amazon Echo, the Echo Auto will be available on an invite-only basis starting in the US and sold for a discount price – just $24.99 (roughly £19, AU$34). That price will increase to $49.99 after the invite-only period ends but that’s still a mighty good deal for what you get.

What you get, exactly, is a portable Echo that uses a Bluetooth connection to your phone and an eight-microphone array to take requests via Alexa and can spit out songs, directions, your to-do list, a book from Audible and more. 

The way it works is that the device uses a road noise-reduction algorithm to eliminate driving noise and, after all that excess noise is cut out, the Auto proceeds to send requests from the device to your phone which is responsible for connecting to the internet. 

The Auto can be powered in one of two ways, either via your car’s 12V power outlet or a regular USB port, if you drive something reasonably modern. 

To get the music and directions to play through your car’s stereo system, you can connect the Auto using Bluetooth (again, if your car’s head unit supports it) or via a simple 3.5mm auxiliary cable. 

The system, when all setup, offers a poor man’s version of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay with some of the added perks of Alexa, like routines and smart home compatibility. 

Sure, those other two options have a visual component, but the beauty of Amazon Echo Auto is that Amazon is offering an audio-only solution at a fraction of the cost.

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