Earlier this week in our Battle of the Brains article we compared three of the four major personal digital assistants - Siri, Cortana, and Google Home.
Left out of that comparison was Amazon's Alexa. It was not an oversight but a plan because we were waiting on an Amazon Echo Dot to arrive so that we could properly test the service.
Well today marks the arrival of the Echo Dot:
The packaging is compact and efficient - not much room to squeeze another piece of paper into the small blue box that the Dot arrived in.
Once it is out of its box and plugged in there is a short period of start up, as shown in the tweet embedded above, and then you can start the actual setup of the device.
Set up is accomplished via the Amazon Alexa app for either Android or iOS. If you are not on one of those devices you could also download the app on an Amazon Fire Tablet from the app store or just use your browser on Windows and visit http://alexa.amazon.com/ to get started.
You can use the apps or the website to customize the Echo Dot including the wake word which places the Echo Dot in listening mode for a command. You have three choices with the default being Alexa and the other two options being Amazon or Echo. I decided this Dot will answer to Echo.
Among the setup steps you can provide voice training by repeating 25 random commands to Alexa so she can learn your unique way of speaking, apply a confirmation PIN for any voice orders, and of course select and setup Amazon Skills to use with Alexa.
The apps and website pretty much mirror each other in the tools for managing your Echo Dot so I have included some screenshots of the Alexa device website in the gallery. My favorite feature of the apps and website is that a history of my inquiries are listed there on the Home Tab so I can go back and review something I heard or did earlier in the day.
Over the next couple of weeks I will be testing out Alexa and the associated Amazon services to see how this ecosystem compares to the other digital assistants we have already discussed.