One sign of a new technology reaching maturity is the growth of supporting products for it. Now that the Echo has been around for over a year, there are a number of cases and wall mounts available for it—but most of these haven’t been created with the design, or placement requirements, of the Echo device in mind.
Image credit: quickmeme.com
Wall Mounts: If You Want To Do Exactly What Amazon Tells You NOT To Do With Your Echo…
The very first thing it says on the Set Up Your Amazon Echo page on the Amazon site is:
To get started with Amazon Echo, place your device in a central location (at least eight inches from any walls and windows).
This is because Alexa will have trouble hearing you if any of the Echo’s microphones (inside the top volume ring) are obstructed, or if literal echo from a nearby hard surface creates interference.
Yet there are Echo wall mounts available that are designed to position your Echo within ONE inch of a wall, like this:
The Echo shown above is mounted directly ON a wall, and this poor placement is made even worse by that wall being in a corner that’s boxed in by wall cabinets and a countertop. This is just about the worst placement I can imagine for an Echo.
One enterprising Echo owner has taken the issue of obstruction into account and created an Echo ceiling mount. This is a much better idea because it allows you to place the Echo anywhere in a room and easily avoid walls, windows and other hard surfaces, but it does require running wires through the ceiling so it’s not something renters can take advantage of.
This solution works great with the Echo Voice Remote*, but if you don’t have the remote you’ll have to get on a stepladder or chair anytime you need to access the volume ring or top buttons.
*The voice remote was out of stock for months, then it was briefly available for pre-order again yesterday. By this morning all pre-orders were sold out. If you want one, I suggest bookmarking the voice remote product page and checking it frequently. You never know when pre-orders will become available again, but when they do it’s a safe bet they’ll sell out quickly.
Cases: If You Want To Block Your Echo’s Speaker…
All those little holes encircling the bottom half of the Echo are there to let sound come out of the Echo’s 360°, omni-directional speaker. If you’re blocking any of those holes, you’re blocking part of the speaker—yet another good reason not to mount the Echo against a wall, by the way.
Obviously, any kind of case or covering that blocks any of those holes is going to decrease the quality and volume of sound coming out of your Echo.
But that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from making cases like the one pictured below, or Echo owners from buying them.
Sure, it LOOKS cool. But it’s also blocking at least 1/4 of your Echo’s speaker. If you want to personalize your Echo, it’s a much better idea to go with skins that don’t obstruct the speaker holes at all. I even provide a free, downloadable packet of them here.
Stands: If You’d Like To Introduce Vibration Noise…
Apparently there are lots of Echo owners whose Echos tend to get tipped over, often by curious pets. This has spawned ideas for Echo stands, like this one, intended to make it harder to knock the Echo over:
I’m not denying that it looks very cool and space-agey. But remember: speakers work by pumping out sound waves that vibrate any solid surface they come into contact with. That’s what they’re designed to do.
If you regularly use your Echo to listen to audio at moderately high levels, I don’t see how noise and muffling from vibration of the stand itself can be avoided. Maybe this could work if there were some kind of acoustic foam lining each acrylic ring on its interior surface, keeping the inner ring surfaces firmly flush against the sides of the Echo to absorb any vibration. But this stand doesn’t have that feature.
Echo mounts, cases and stands: just remember that if you choose looks over function, your Echo isn’t going to work as well as it was designed to.
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Today Amazon announced that the ecobee3 Smarter Wi-Fi Thermostat is the first smart thermostat to get native Alexa control—that means there’s no skill to install, this feature can be set up in the Alexa app under Settings > Connected Home.
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