Alexa is a cloud based service that allows you to ask questions such as, "Alexa, What is the weather in New York City today?" or "Alexa, who won the Superbowl in 1992?" (the answer is the Washington Redskins).
Alexa is built into a number of items such as these devices you see on this page, but also into things such as microwaves, thermostats, wall clocks, and so much more.
One of the questions we hear the most is, "What are the costs involved with having a device like this in your home?" It's not very expensive but there are costs.
The first one, obviously, is the device itself. An Amazon DOT can be as low as $30 and an Amazon SHOW (with a screen) can cost as low as $100.
The second cost is WiFi. You need internet in your home and it has to be wireless. There's no plug in any of these devices for a CAT-5 cable.
Those two things are the bare minimum you need to have a device like this. Optional things would be items such as:
Smart light bulbs
Alexa enabled television
A number of other things
But these things are not necessary just to use Alexa for basic information, song playing, and entertainment.
Alexa can answer questions but she can also:
Control Your TV
Answer Random Questions
Give You Directions
Give You Store Information like Address and Hours
Control Your Thermostat
Turn On/Off Lights
Open/Close Garage Door
Start Coffee Pot in the Morning
Call Family/Friends in Case of Emergency
ASK MY BUDDY
One of our favorite "skills" that is offered for Alexa devices is "Ask my Buddy". This skill requires a little bit of setup, but it's easy to do. When someone requires help (I fell), they can call out, "Alexa call my Buddy John!" Ask My Buddy will immediately call, text, and email John telling him that person needs help and to contact them immediately. It's completely free and you can have multiple contacts.
THE ECHO SHOW
Another favorite feature of ours is the Echo Show. This device works like the others but has the benefit of having a screen on it. This screen can show you the weather, what song you are listening to, information from the web, and so much more!
The best feature though, is the camera built into it! This enables the "Drop In" feature. You can "Drop In" on family members that may need checking on. It gives you the ability to have two way video conversations and see what's going on.