Amazon is putting its Alexa digital assistant in all sorts of devices. This includes Echo Frames with are glasses that you can add your own lense prescription into. You simply wear your glasses and have Alexa right there on your face.
What are the Echo Frames?
Echo Frames are what the company calls a “Day 1 Edition” device. Amazon wants to make Alexa your wearable assistant by putting them into your eyeglasses. Now, unlike Google Glass, there is no camera or display. It just includes the digital assistant, microphones, and speakers in the frames. Day 1 Edition devices are experimental and are sold in a limited number and by invite only.
First Impressions of Echo Frames
I finally got my set of Echo Frames last week. My first impressions are they are pretty cheap frames. They are mostly plastic, and the frames are fat as they contain the electronics.
The frames don’t come with prescription lenses, so you need to take them into your optometrist to get your prescription installed.
Another problem with the Echo Frames is they are only compatible with Android. Personally, I switched from Android to iPhone so that is annoying. To test them out I needed to go back to my OnePlus 6T.
The battery life of the Echo Frames is mediocre at best. I got about four to five hours between charges. Also, the charger it comes with takes quite a while to power the glasses up to 100 percent.
The glasses aren’t the most comfortable frames. Because of the electronics in the frames, the only adjustable part is behind the ear. In fact, it comes with a warning that the only adjustable part from the metal accent to the temple tip.
Currently, they only come in one design. So, don’t expect to get different designer frame styles.
The glasses aren’t waterproof. You don’t want to run the glasses under water to clean them. I haven’t worn them outside while it is raining, but I could see having a problem if it’s heavy rain outside.
Using Echo Frames
The Echo Frames work just like an Echo smart speaker or any other device with Alexa. Just like other Alexa devices you set it up via the Alexa app on your phone. Setting them up is straightforward following the onscreen wizard instructions. So, you do need your phone with you for them to work as there is no LTE connectivity. The frames connect to your phone via Bluetooth.
The open-ear speakers are fairly decent. It contains four speakers that direct sound toward your ears. You can hear Alexa, podcasts, music, and audiobooks. You can use commands like “Alexa Play No Agenda Podcast” Or “Alexa, play Metallica from Spotify” or your music service of choice. And of course, you can ask Alexa other questions just like you can on an Echo speaker.
The speakers are adequate, but you can’t hear them very well in loud environments. Don’t expect the type of sound you would get from in-ear buds. When you pump the volume all the way up the sound does distort slightly.
It includes two buttons on the lenses. The action button allows you to turn off the microphone by pressing it twice. The other button is the volume rocker to increase or decrease the loudness. The touchpad on the side of the frame lets you answer phone calls from the glasses with a swipe.
In the box are the glasses, charging cable, power adapter, and carrying case.
Overall, the Echo Frames are an interesting idea, but they aren’t ready for primetime yet. The quality (and selection) of the frames, battery life, and audio need improvement. The ability for the frames to work with iOS is also a must for this device to succeed.
Of course, it’s important to remember that these are a first-generation device. Over time and updates, battery life should improve. The Echo Frames start at $179.99. However, the program is invite-only at the time of this writing.
As I use them longer we’ll have more tips, tricks, and how-to articles so stay tuned.