When I first tried Amazon Echo Frames, my first thought was, “Why do we need Alexa with a pair of glasses?” The Amazon assistant is already in smart thermostats, cars, even talking fish – with limited success. But, while using the $ 249 Echo Frames while walking my dog, working at my computer, and while away from home, I came to appreciate being able to do a number of things hands-free.
But while these specs further Amazon’s ambition to have its voice assistant everywhere, they could use a little more concentration. Read on for our full Amazon Echo Frames review to see why these glasses are falling short of their potential.
Amazon Echo Frames review: price and availability
Second-gen Echo Frames cost $ 249 and are now available to anyone who wants to buy them. You can buy them in black, tortoiseshell or blue. The second generation of Echo Frames had a release date of November 2020.
Update (October 2021): Amazon has updated the Frames with several new features:
Amazon Echo Frames review: design
Second-gen Echo Frames look better than Google Glass and some other smart glasses, but they have a Warby Parker vibe – my wife said he looked like a 60s-era rocket scientist. The frames are now available not just in black. , but also in tortoiseshell and blue.
Each arm of the glasses is a bit thick, to accommodate the speakers and other circuitry, but the part that hooks around the ears is thin.
On the right arm there is a power button that also allows you to turn the microphone of the glasses on and off. Right behind it is a rocker switch that controls the volume of the speakers. Behind this is a small magnetic contact area where the charger connects.
The outer part of the right arm is sensitive to the touch and allows you to accept and reject phone calls by swiping and tapping. It was pretty easy to use, but I wish there was a ridge or some kind of physical indicator to tell when your finger was in the touch sensitive area.
Overall, I found the Echo Frames, which weigh 1.09 ounces, comfortable to wear for extended periods. They were much more comfortable than the Vuzix Blades, and even the North Focals.
They come with a nice protective cover, as well as a cleaning cloth. Echo Frames come with clear plastic lenses, but you can adjust them with prescription lenses.
Amazon Echo Frames review: audio
Echo Frames have four tiny speakers (two on each side) that use beamforming to direct the audio to your ears. It is similar to what Bose does with the Marcos Bose, but not that good.
Echo Frames audio was mediocre. After streaming a few jazz tunes through TuneIn, as well as rock, hip-hop, Spotify musicals, and iTunes podcasts, what I was missing most was the bass, which deprived most of the tunes of their punch.
Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run was extremely metallic; I felt like I was listening to a first generation Echo Dot. I could make out all of the Lin-Manuel Miranda lyrics on the Hamilton soundtrack, but the vocals were compressed and there was no lower range to back them up. The bass lines on Cardi B. and Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP weren’t as wet as I’d like.
If you listen to music that doesn’t go too far in either extreme, you will have a mostly pleasant experience. The midrange tones were quite good and the stereo speakers gave the impression of different instruments.
I found that setting the volume to around 60 percent was ideal, not only for me, but also for my wife, sitting about 15 feet away in our attic converted office. Something louder, and he could hear what was coming out of the speakers. It is as irritating as if you were sitting in the same room as a child playing on their parents’ iPhone.
Due to the open design of the Echo Frames, those around you are much more likely to hear what you are listening to, especially if you are playing something at a higher volume. That was not the case with the Bose Frames.
Amazon Echo Frames Review: Phone Calls
The phone calls made with the Echo Frames were pretty good. I simply asked Alexa to dial one of my contacts; The Amazon assistant first asked me which of my contact’s phone numbers I would like to dial, and then she made the connection.
My wife could hear me clearly, even though I was outside on a windy day. (However, she did notice that she could hear the noises of the wind.) I could hear her well, although I had to turn the volume up a bit.
Amazon Echo Frames: What You Can and Can’t Do With Alexa
Echo Frames aren’t the first smart glasses to have Alexa built in, so it’s a bit surprising that Amazon hasn’t learned from those other devices to make its assistant more mobile-friendly.
When you call Alexa, a small blue LED lights up inside the glasses, above your right eye. It’s subtle enough not to be distracting, but bright enough to let you know that Amazon’s voice assistant is listening.
I found Alexa responsive, and I especially liked that the Frames have Amazon’s ESP technology, which means that the Echo Frames, and not every other Echo speaker scattered around my house, responded to my voice.
You can use Alexa on the Echo Frames just like you would any of Amazon’s other smart speakers, like asking for news and weather, playing music, and controlling smart home devices.
Don’t want to use Alexa? IPhone owners can summon Siri, and Android smartphone users can call Google Assistant by pressing and holding the touchpad.
The step-by-step spoken instructions could be smoother, but would require Amazon to invest in its own mapping service. (I don’t understand why you haven’t put 360 cameras on all of your delivery vehicles.)
While Alexa can find things like local gas stations and pizzerias, it doesn’t have a native map service, so it falls back on Siri and Apple Maps if paired with an iPhone or Google Assistant and Google Maps when paired with an Android. smartphone.
If you’re using it with an iPhone, you need to tap “Start Navigation” on your phone to get things going, an extra step.
Using Echo Frames for navigation may seem strange if you’re driving in your car, but they’re useful if you’re walking or cycling in an unfamiliar location and don’t want to keep pulling out your phone for directions.
Amazon Echo Frames: battery life
Amazon says that with intermittent use and the volume set at 60 percent, the Echo Frames will last up to 14 hours. If you are using them to call someone, you should have two hours of talk time. If you’re constantly playing music at 80 percent volume, they should last up to four hours. I found the latter to be quite accurate. Depending on how much you like listening to tunes and making phone calls, you could go a whole day without having to reload the specs.
The Echo Frames charge up to 60 percent in about 20-30 minutes and fully charge after about 75 minutes. They come with a proprietary USB cable that attaches magnetically to the right arm.
Update (October 21): Amazon has updated the Frames with a new sleep mode. They will now turn on automatically when you put them on, and go into low power mode once you take them off and turn them upside down.
Amazon Echo Frames review: verdict
While you can find Amazon’s assistant on almost any smart device, it’s not always clear what Alexa is for on those devices.
In many ways, Echo Frames attempt to perform the same function as a smartwatch; allow you to access most of the functions of your phone without having to take it out of your pocket. To that end, they are quite successful. You can listen to music, make phone calls, and search and find things without interrupting whatever else you are doing.
However, the Echo Frames must sound a lot better before I shell out $ 250. If your main goal when choosing a pair of smart glasses is listening to music, the Bose Frames are the ideal pair. But, if the idea of Alexa on your face is intriguing, then the Echo Frames are worth checking out.