On the latest IoT Podcast, Steve called into our voicemail hotline with a question we receive quite often: What Amazon Echo device can I use outside for music, voice control and to communicate with the family? It’s a tricky problem to solve, mainly because none of Amazon’s own Echo devices are outdoor rated, meaning they aren’t resistant to moisture and dust.
All is not lost, however. Depending on what compromises Steve wants to make, there some options, even if none of them are optimal.
We dug around and found that the Ultimate Ears Blast speaker can be used outdoors, thanks to its IP67 rating for water and dust resistance. This $179 speaker – often found on sale for much less – is battery powered and has Alexa Voice Services built-in. Sounds like a winner, right? Unfortunately, no third-party Alexa-capable devices support the Echo Calling and Drop-In features.
Another, less expensive choice, is the $35 Amazon Echo Input. This device works with your own speakers, so if you already have outdoor speakers installed, it could work. Essentially, the Echo Input adds a microphone and Alexa to your existing speakers via Bluetooth or a 3.5-millimeter cable. The downsides? It requires power so you have to plug it in outdoors. And since it’s not rated for outdoor use, you’ll have to connect and disconnect it as needed.
Finally, we don’t want to overlook the obvious. Since the Alexa mobile app supports the Echo Calling and Drop-In features, it may make sense just to use or buy regular outdoor speakers for music and use your phone for voice control and communications. No, it’s not ideal but it’s an option that you already have. And some phones these days have reasonably good speakers for music playback, so if you don’t need super immersive sound, maybe using your handset is the best choice.
To hear Steve’s question in full, as well as our discussion, tune in to the IoT Podcast below.
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