Echo Auto (2nd Gen) review: Alexa for your car just got a big upgrade | Tom’s Guide

alexa for your car just got better with the launch of the new echo auto. This compact, USB-powered device adds Amazon Voice Assistant to any vehicle for hands-free calling and messaging, navigation, and more. With echo auto (2nd gen) there’s an additional mounting option, redesigned microphones to hear you better, and it also comes with a fast car charger that can quickly charge your phone via usb-c.

Our Echo Auto (2nd Gen) review will help you decide if it’s worth adding Alexa to your car in the first place, and whether or not you should upgrade from the previous version. Even if you have a newer vehicle that comes with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, you can still use Echo Auto if you prefer Alexa over Google Assistant or Siri.

Reading: Alexa car review

echo auto (2nd gen) review: price and availability

  • amazon echo auto (2nd gen) on amazon for $54.99 (opens in a new tab)
  • The all-new echo auto will be available for preorder starting December 7 for $54.99 with units starting to ship the following week. This price gets you an Echo Auto (2nd Gen), an adhesive car mount, an auxiliary cable, and a fast car charger. however, the new echo auto will also be available in a separate bundle that includes a vent mount and all of the above for $62.98.

    echo auto (2nd gen) review: Design

    echo auto (2nd gen) looks much more compact and sleeker than the original, while giving users a second way to mount it. Instead of a horizontal layout, Amazon has gone with a vertical one where the button to enable Alexa sits on top and the mute button sits below. the light bar above these two buttons is also much smaller.

    Unlike the original echo auto, this new version ships with an adhesive car mount that gives you more flexibility when it comes to where you want to install it. The microphone is just over 2 inches long with a width of just under an inch and is half an inch tall when laid on its side. however, one big difference is that its cable is not removable like the original.

    if you look at the new auto-echo next to the original, the size difference is quite noticeable, and its microphones are now hidden under the cloth. although there are fewer microphones (8 vs 5, they work better, especially when there is music, air conditioning or even road noise in the background).

    when amazon first introduced the echo auto (2nd gen) at its september event, all that was shown was its new scaled-down design. however, as you can see in the image above, it comes at a cost. Basically, the company’s engineers moved the audio jack and other components to a speaker module along with the USB cable so that the microphone, lightbar, and buttons could all be in a more compact enclosure. Unfortunately, the Echo Auto’s cables are no longer removable, which means you can’t use a shorter cable. however, both the adhesive mount and the optional vent mount have extra space behind the microphone where you can wrap the cable around.

    echo auto (2nd gen) review: setup

    echo auto (2nd generation) includes everything you need to get your device up and running. Since I already had the old version installed in my car, I decided to use the vent mount instead of the new adhesive, as I didn’t want to worry about it falling off while driving. Amazon includes a spare piece of tape in case the device falls or if you want to change the position of the auto echo.

    Because the speaker module’s usb cable is short, I opted to use a usb extension cable so it could lay flat on the center console. I haven’t had any problems with this setup yet, but I wish the usb cable on the new echo auto was a bit longer, especially since it can’t be removed.

    To start using echo auto, you must first download the alexa app and sign in to your amazon account. Although the setup guide gives you tips on mounting the device, I recommend installing it in your car first to make the process easier.

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    Once your echo auto has been added to the alexa app, the setup process begins by asking you how to connect your phone to your car with options for bluetooth, aux, android auto (wired), android auto (wireless), and apple carplay plays a sound three times to sync your car with your auto echo and then you’re prompted to select your preferred map provider, messaging and music services. At this point, you can also set up Amazon’s Find My feature, as well as Roadside Assistance. overall this was very easy to do and only took a few minutes.

    echo auto (2nd gen) review: auto mode

    To use amazon auto mode, you must have an auto eco (1st or 2nd generation) installed in your vehicle. Like the now-discontinued Android Auto app, it offers a streamlined user experience that’s designed to “help you stay focused on the road with easy-to-read images, large touch targets, and intuitive shortcuts and features” according to Amazon (opens in a new tab) .

    The Auto mode home screen has tiles for music, directions, and phone calls, but you can also navigate to each section by tapping the icons at the bottom of the screen. here you will find additional options for each. For example, the communication screen also allows you to access the best Alexa speakers in your home, announce that you’re on the way, and call roadside assistance. I especially like the smart home screen, as you can quickly turn lights and other smart home devices on or off.

    Although auto mode is one of the advantages of having an auto echo, you don’t have to use it. If the Alexa app isn’t open on your smartphone and your screen is off, you can still talk to Amazon’s virtual assistant to make calls, send texts, play music, control smart home devices, and more.

    echo auto (2nd gen) review: navigation

    Getting to and from work or anywhere else you want to go is pretty easy with auto echo. During the device setup process, you are asked to choose your preferred navigation app, but you can change this later. A full list of compatible apps isn’t available, but Echo Auto works with all the big players, including Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps.

    Since I drop my son off at his aunt’s house every morning, I have his address set as my workplace. after i start my car and wait for the auto eco to come on i just ask alexa to “get directions to work” and she opens google maps. I haven’t had any issues with this while testing both the original and the echo auto (2nd gen).

    Getting directions to general locations like gas stations and restaurants also works well, as Alexa passes things over to Google Maps (or your preferred navigation app), which does most of the work. if you don’t say the name of a specific place, restaurant, or store, you’re presented with a list of options to choose from.

    Navigation generally works well with echo auto (2nd gen), but you can always manually enter a destination before getting in your car and still use alexa on your journey.

    echo auto (2nd gen) review: calls and messages

    Hands-free calling and messaging is one of the best (and safest) reasons to have an auto eco installed in your car. You just need to ask Alexa to call or message one of her contacts and she does the rest. however, you can also have alexa answer incoming calls or read your text messages aloud.

    Call quality improved with Auto Echo (2nd Gen); even when I was going relatively fast with the windows rolled down, the person on the other side could hear me clearly. in fact, my wife said she sounded better when she used auto echo than when she used my phone’s speakerphone to make calls while she was driving.

    the only problem I had was when trying to send text messages. If you forget to turn off Wi-Fi when you get in the car, your phone may try to connect to various access points during the trip. When this happened, I was able to start messaging someone and broadcast my entire message to Alexa, but she had trouble sending it. while this is not a problem with auto echo itself, it is something to keep in mind if you plan to use the device for texting while driving.

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    It’s worth noting that echo auto (2nd generation) is also restricted to using your smartphone’s default phone and messaging apps. This means that third party apps like whatsapp or signal are not supported. You can also use your auto echo to call and message other echo devices, but you must first set it up in the communication tab of the Alexa app.

    echo auto (2nd gen) review: alexa performance

    having alexa ready is a huge selling point of the original echo auto and amazon’s virtual assistant has certainly seen some improvements with this new device. in my experience, she responds faster with auto echo (2nd gen) and the upgraded mics did a better job of picking up my voice. For example, while going 70 mph with the windows down on the highway, I was able to ask Alexa “what’s 2 + 2?” and she responded accordingly.

    Just like with an Echo Dot or any other Alexa-enabled smart speaker, you can set timers, alarms, reminders, ask about the weather, have Alexa tell you a joke, or play a number of different audio games. audio games and jokes can be useful if you are traveling with children or even if you get bored while stuck in traffic.

    Since Echo Auto is linked to your smartphone and connected via Bluetooth, Alexa is limited to apps installed on your phone. This way, instead of just using Amazon Music, you can use Spotify or Apple Music to listen to your favorite songs. Speaking of Amazon Music, Amazon is offering six months of free access to Amazon Music Unlimited with the purchase of an Echo Auto (2nd Gen).

    Because I’m a core member, I tried listening to amazon music while testing auto echo. while subscribers get access to the service’s entire catalog of 100 million songs, you can’t stream specific albums or just the work of a single artist. instead, you are limited to random mode. Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers, on the other hand, have a lot more choice when it comes to what they want to listen to.

    one of my favorite features on both the original and the echo auto (2nd gen) is “find my”. Once enabled in the Alexa app, you can use this feature to find your car right from the app, but it also works on the Echo 15 program. A map is displayed showing your car’s last location, which can be really helpful. If it happens. misplacing your vehicle in a large parking lot or in a shopping center.

    Because I have some of the best smart light bulbs in every room of my house, I also found echo auto incredibly useful for controlling my smart home. If I forgot to turn off a light or wanted the kitchen lights to come on when I got home, I could ask Alexa to do it for me. this also works with the best smart plugs or any other connected device you can add to the alexa app.

    echo auto (2nd gen) review: verdict

    Whether or not you should add the new auto eco to your car depends a lot on the age of your vehicle. If you drive an older car without an infotainment system or your car doesn’t have Bluetooth, then auto echo makes a lot of sense. However, if your car supports Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, you may not necessarily need Echo Auto. Still, if you’re used to using Alexa at home and want to be able to access your favorite virtual assistant on the go, then it might be worth it.

    As for owners of the original echo auto, it may be worth upgrading to the newer model depending on whether you prefer the sleeker, more compact design along with the new adhesive mount. Alexa also works better and call quality has also improved. Roadside assistance is another plus and the new Fast Car Charge lets you power up the Eco Auto (2nd Gen) while you charge your smartphone with Quick Charge 3.0.

    Either way, the echo auto (2nd gen) improves on the original in terms of hardware and adds new features like roadside assistance along with an additional mounting option. I wish the vent mount was included in the standard package, but it’s only an extra $8. the echo auto (2nd gen) may be a niche product, but amazon has given it the upgrade it deserves with the caveat that its cable is no longer removable.

    Next: Also see Top 5 Reasons to Buy and Top 3 Reasons to Skip Amazon Echo Auto 2.

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