Amazon seems to have a speaker for every user… even for those who don’t need a speaker as such. This is the case with the Amazon Echo Flex, the most compact and affordable member of the family, but not the least useful. We have tried the Amazon Echo Flex and this has been our experience.
Amazon Echo Flex datasheet
|SPEAKER||15 mm mini speaker|
|SMART ASSISTANT||Amazon Alexa|
|WIRELESS CONNECTION||802.11a / b / g / n / ac (2.4 and 5 GHz)|
|PORT||3.5mm jack and 7.5W USB A connector|
|MEASURES AND WEIGHT||72 mm x 67 mm x 73 mm; 154 grams|
A design that focuses on the functional
The Echo Flex comes in a compact box containing the speaker plug and a manual. There are no cables, just plug and play. Like the rest of the family’s speakers, installation is very simple: all you need is an Internet connection, a mobile phone and an Amazon account. After downloading the application – available for both iOS and Android – and accessing our account, the application will “sense” the presence of a new device. If not, we can hit “+”, look for our Wi-Fi network, the password and in a matter of seconds, the configuration will be complete.
Unlike other speakers without screens, all of which are cylindrical in shape, the Echo Flex is shaped like a box. On the front, there’s an LED that tells us if Alexa is listening – off in standby, blue in listen mode and red with the microphone off -, an action button and another button to turn off the microphone. On the side there is a jack output and on the back there is the plug and a USB port on the bottom. It is in this USB port that you can connect certain devices “made for Amazon”, such as motion sensors or household lights.
This is Amazon’s most compact smart speaker in a design that seeks to optimize its functionality by minimizing its presence: that is, taking up little space and integrating into the wall without leaving the loose cable that we find in the rest of its siblings.
It is practically a loudspeaker that reminds us of the typical anti-mosquito plugs that our parents used to put in on summer nights. Incidentally, it would have been very useful to provide a plug in so that even if the Echo Flex takes up a socket in our house, it is still available. One of the reasons for not doing so is that the Flex would have become hotter than it is… yes, if you put your hand on the device you will find that it gets much hotter than expected.
Turn the sound down and raise the utility
Despite its small dimensions, the Echo Flex is a stand-alone speaker with Alexa, as it houses a small speaker and two microphones to detect our voice. However, its main purpose is to control our intelligent devices, set up routines, answer questions such as news, traffic or our agenda – the usual things you would ask a voice assistant to do. It can even be used as a hands-free kit to answer calls.
But paradoxically, it’s not for listening to music. That’s right, it’s a very small speaker, roughly understood as a device for reproducing sound. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Amazon might reply, expressly stating in their description that “this Echo device with integrated plug allows you to have Alexa in more places in your home” and that “it’s not optimized for music playback. It even suggests that we connect it to external speakers via the 3.5mm jack or via a Bluetooth connection.
If you want it to listen to music, even if it’s for a small room, it’s going to run out of power. You can use it for that purpose, but it will leave us wanting more volume even if we are undemanding: the feeling during playback is of low quality, without nuances or depth, and the volume level is quite limited.
Not that it’s much smaller than the Echo Dot, but both the shape and design factor and the acoustic architecture it implements make it sound and sound worse than this. By connecting it to external speakers we can increase its poor sound, but there is little we can do to improve the voice recognition function, which is “its biggest handicap”. The listening radius with a normal voice volume is a maximum of five meters… and if there is noise or another sound is being played, that range is reduced by half.
However, and despite all the above, the Echo Flex is very useful for spaces such as the kitchen, the bathroom, the corridor or the garage, places where we could be interested in giving up the ornamental in exchange for the discretion and compactness of this device capable of controlling the home automation of our house. This, which is its true vocation, is reinforced by the accessories designed specifically for the Flex, namely a PIR movement sensor and an LED. Bearing in mind that there is only one USB port, we will have to connect one accessory or another. In any case, their recognition is completely automatic.
The lighting accessory, for example, is composed of 6 RGB LEDs with which you can control the color, power and brightness from the app, as well as with the voice assistant. It also has a sensor capable of detecting ambient light to turn the light on and off automatically. However, the light is not powerful enough to illuminate a room, but is more of an ambient type of lighting.
These accessories increase their functionality, for example for routines. Here are some screenshots to give you an idea:
- “Alexa, good night”, causes the Echo Flex to turn on the light in blue with a medium intensity and brightness that serves to illuminate the corridor during the night.
- By saying “Alexa, music”, the Flex plays a Metallica playlist from Amazon Music (we can also do this if we have a Spotify Premium account)
- The phrase “Alexa, good morning” makes Alexa tell us the news of the day.
Echo Flex final opinion
Considering Alexa’s muscle, the compactness of the device and the fact that its price is usually below the official 29.99 euros, the Echo Flex is a very interesting gadget. As detailed in the analysis, it has all the papers to occupy the sockets in the garage, although care must be taken where it is connected, as it is not waterproof.
If you’re looking for an unobtrusive device that can be used to control the smart accessories in your home by voice, the Echo Flex is the ideal candidate. If you want to use it to listen to music, within Amazon’s own loudspeaker catalogue there are slightly more expensive alternatives, but which, unlike this model, improve considerably in the acoustic part.