Amazon Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Review
Amazon offers the largest selection of speakers and smart devices. The Echo smart speaker range is broader than any brand of smart speaker series. There is an echo for every size and every need. There is one for your car, one for your nightstand, and one for your existing home theatre system. If you’re looking for an Echo speaker that you can take with you on your travels, Amazon has developed an Echo that meets those needs, too. Echo Input Portable Edition is a portable wireless speaker with Alexa skills and voice recognition.
After reviewing the Echo Studio, which we loved, we had a chance to review the Echo Input Portable. The smart speaker has all the features that other Echo speakers (not smart displays) can do in terms of their capabilities, with the added benefit of being portable. But how good is it in real life? Let’s find out in our review of the Echo Input Portable.
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Portability and Design
The Echo Input Portable is smaller than my UE Wonderboom Bluetooth, but it contains all of the extra circuitry needed to make a smart speaker. It’s four inches wide and less than three inches tall, which makes it more significant than the Echo Dot. It has a practical and portable design that makes it easy to carry around the house and outdoors. However, it is more substantial (about half a kilogram) than it seems.
There are power and volume buttons on the front. You can also check the speaker battery level using four LED indicators on the front. At the top, there is a microphone on/off button and an action button. At the top, there is an LED status display and four microphones for speech recognition. There is a micro USB port on the back. It’s daunting to see a micro USB port these days. Amazon should have opted for a USB Type-C port. There is no audio input or output port available for the full-size Echo and Echo Studio.
The fabric material helps the Echo Input Portable to blend in with your interiors and furniture. The plastic material on the top and bottom is pretty basic, but it still doesn’t feel cheap. The speaker base made from a sticky rubber material that prevents it from sliding off a flat surface due to audio vibration at high volumes.
Specs and Features
The Echo Input Portable has a 1.5W audio driver, and the speaker has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. When you are at home, you can connect it directly to your Wi-Fi networks. However, if you are outdoors, you will need to use your smartphone to create a Wi-Fi hotspot. You can also bring a portable WiFi hotspot device and connect the speaker to access Alexa skills.
You can stream music from Amazon Prime Music, Apple Music, Gaana, Hungama, and JioSaavn. Spotify is strangely absent in Alexa Skills, even though it is available in the US I don’t know if Amazon is responsible for the lack of skill or Spotify. You can also stream music from your mobile or computer via Bluetooth.
Other skills include consulting information such as the weather, the time, sports updates, or information from Wikipedia or the Internet. You can control Alexa-compatible smart home products, learn recipes, call a cab, order food, buy movie tickets, and much more. There are over 30,000 Alexa skills to choose from, and the Echo Input Portable works reliably. Of course, you can’t make video calls on Skype because the speaker has no screen and no camera.
It’s great to see that Amazon kitted out the Echo Input Portable with dual-band AC WiFi while most other affordable smart speakers only have B / G / N WiFi. It’s not resistant to dust or water, so outdoor use in wind or rain can be a problem.
However, there is a problem with the product name. Since the Echo Input has a 3.5mm audio output and any speaker can be turned into a smart speaker, the Echo Portable Input is considered more of a portable version of the Echo Input. However, this is not the case. The Echo Input Portable lacks an audio output. I think Amazon should have called it the Echo Portable.
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I will evaluate the performance of the Echo Input Portable on three metrics: speech recognition quality, audio quality, and ease of use. Right off the bat, I noticed that speech recognition on the Echo Input Portable wasn’t as good as on other Echo devices I’ve used. There have been many cases where I have had to give voice commands more than once. I also had to be louder when issuing these commands so that the Echo Input Portable could hear me clearly, especially during audio playback. It is not the kind of experience I’m used to with smart speakers.
Audio quality was average in size and price. After using the Echo Dot, I wasn’t expecting much from the smart speaker anyway. The voices were decently clear, and there was enough bass for the size of the speaker. However, the bass lacked the strength and stiffness that I’m used to from similarly priced Bluetooth speakers. The highs sounded below average, and there was no shine in them. The Echo Input Portable’s 1.5-inch driver appears to tune for vocals and bass, but even those parts were pretty standard.
Echo Input Portable can plug a small room with sound. However, if you plan to use it in a large room, the speaker will not suit your needs. It’s decent enough for a picnic with everyone or in a small car. Anything else would negatively affect the speaker in terms of audio quality and volume. When you are not at home, you need to connect the speaker to your phone using a WiFi or Bluetooth access point. I noticed that the audio quality deteriorates when playing audio over Bluetooth. Music sounded quieter than music when the speaker connected to a Wi-Fi network.
As for the user-friendly part, the Echo Input Portable pretty easy to use aside from poor speech recognition. The configuration is quite simple. If you’ve ever used an Echo device, setting up Echo portable input will make you feel right at home. It would help if you had an iOS or Android smartphone to configure the device. After that, you can use it independently. You can stream music through the Amazon Music app or the Alexa app. My objections stay with the smart speakers (both at Alexa and those who work with the Google Assistant) as they can’t just play the songs in my library and nothing outside of them.
The Echo Input Portable is about the same size as most Bluetooth speakers under Rs 5,000. Since it also has intelligent speaker functions, there isn’t enough space for a large battery. While Amazon claims that the portable speaker can play music for 10 hours on a single charge of its 4,800 mAh battery, we were only able to earn 5 to 6 hours of music while connected to the internet via WiFi. This is a little shorter than the official Amazon numbers.
Also, it is quite slow to load. If you want your portable smart speaker to last for a day of travel, you are sure to be disappointed with the Echo Input Portable. You’ll need to plug it into your power bank multiple times if you want it to be on the go for a full day. Or you can spend a little more on Alexa-enabled portable smart speakers from other brands like JBL and Ultimate Ears.
The Echo Input Portable is a decent device for its price. It does what it says. You can take Alexa Skills with you on the go, whether it’s in your car, on a picnic, on a hike, by the pool, or just at home. However, the audio quality is quite reasonable. If sound quality is your main concern, Echo Input Portable is not for you. You can buy a better-sounding Bluetooth speaker at a lower price.
The battery life leaves a lot to be desired. It’s best if you plug it into a power source at home, as the Echo Input Portable uses more battery than usual. Also, there is no audio output, and if it had one, it would have been great to connect it to a car audio system or a home hi-fi setup. Also, a USB Type-C port should be available instead of a micro USB port.
If taking Alexa skills on the go is your top priority, the Echo Input Portable is an excellent option for the price. However, if you want better audio quality too, you’ll need to spend more and buy portable Alexa-enabled speakers from JBL, Sony, or EU.
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