Smart Home On A Budget: Alternative Alexa Devices

Alexa’s become so popular, she’s no longer content to live only in the Echo, Dot and Tap. Alternative Alexa devices make it even more affordable to get started with smart home on a budget, by choosing devices with added tech functionality.



First, an apology and a free gift for my U.K. readers. Today’s post features products that aren’t available in the U.K., or at least, not in Alexa-enabled versions yet. I do my best to be inclusive of the U.K. but today I just can’t manage it. So to make it up to you, here’s an Audible freebie that’s only available to Amazon’s UK customers: A Christmas Carol, performed by Sir Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Cranham, Miriam Margolyes, Jenna Coleman, Brendan Coyle and Roger Allam. Enjoy!


Fire TV Stick With Voice Remote, $40
The Fire TV streaming stick with Alexa remote was already pretty great, but now it has Alexa functionality built in too.


The Fire TV stick can: stream video from Amazon Video, as well as from Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO and other video streaming apps and services, runs apps, plus it also lets you stream music and audiobooks and play games. You can take it with you and plug it into other TVs when you travel, too. Most, though not all, Alexa functions are supported on the Fire TV streaming stick with Alexa remote. As of this writing, alarms, timers and smart home device commands (e.g., controlling smart bulbs) are not supported on this device. But if you don’t really need those things, for forty bucks this little doo-dad offers a pretty great digital entertainment package while letting the owner get to know Alexa. Click here to view Amazon’s Help topic about Alexa on Fire TV.

Due to be back in stock 12/20, so if you have Prime or are willing to upgrade to expedited shipping, you can still get one delivered in time for Christmas.


Fire Android Tablet, $40
The 7″ Fire tablet is currently on sale for $40, but even when it’s not on sale it’s a steal at $50. With this option, you’ve got all the features of the Fire tablet PLUS the full suite of Alexa functionality.


You can read ebooks, surf the web, play games, watch videos, stream music, listen to audiobooks, take pictures, shoot video, AND get all that Alexa goodness in a single device. Unlike the Fire TV stick, the Fire tablet does support Alexa smart home device control, timers and alarms. Click here to read Amazon’s help topic about Alexa on Fire tablets. Note that Alexa functions are only available when you have an active WiFi connection.


Nucleus Anywhere Intercom with Amazon Alexa, 2 Pack, $400
I realize $400 does not initially seem in keeping with the whole ‘budget’ theme of this series, but bear with me because the Nucleus Anywhere Intercom is both a touchscreen intercom and a videoconferencing system that can keep both near and distant loved ones in touch—with Alexa built in.


The Nucleus is intended to be used as a touchscreen intercom system within a single home, as a videoconferencing system across two or more locations, or both. If you want an easy way for kids to keep in touch with grandma and grandpa across the miles, the ability to quickly check in on what’s happening at home from the office, or a way to easily communicate from room to room without shouting—and even see what’s going on in those other rooms—, the Nucleus is built for exactly those types of uses. Nucleus devices communicate with one another and with the Nucleus mobile app. The device is available in single, two or three packs, so you can start with as many or as few as you need.

It offers most, but not all, Alexa functionality as well. As of this writing, it does not support Pandora and Spotify streaming; click here to read Amazon’s help topic about Alexa functionality on Nucleus.


More Alexa-enabled devices are currently in development, both from Amazon and outside tech companies, and I’m sure that by this time next year I’ll have even more alternative Alexa devices to write about.


Alexa: she’s not just for Echo anymore.


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