Welcome to my second For Future Reference Fridays! Each Friday I’ll take a moment to both review and recommend products that may be of interest to readers of this blog… or at least to the crickets. Many Fridays will feature craft and sewing related themes, but I will also use it as an opportunity to discuss products related to self-care, the household, and whatever else I find share-worthy.
If you have any input on the current theme or suggestions for future topics, be sure to mention it in the comments or email me!
For today’s FFRF I’ll be discussing the Echo Dot I have in my sewing space and why I think it is a pretty cool tool to have around for creative types. My sewing space (aka. “faceless room“) is in what used to be the formal dining room of the house. Now it exists as my office, sewing space, storage extension, and playroom.
By the way
This post contains affiliate links. ALL recommendations (and opinions) will come from my own approval and personal use. Since I do a crazy amount of shopping on Amazon anyways, I figure the use of affiliate links to feed my various habits is worth a shot. Photos of the just the product are taken from the product listing, the rest are my own.
Product: Echo Dot
Made by: Amazon
Where to buy? Amazon.com
What is the Echo Dot?
The Echo Dot is the budget friendly mini-version of Amazon’s Echo and comes equipped with their virtual assistant “Alexa”. Out of the box Alexa can do simple tasks such as tell you the current weather for the area, play music from your Amazon library, place an order on Amazon, and set a timer. With additional “skills” you can do things like take notes, play geeky trivia games, and keep track of recipes. The latest version of the Echo Dot even includes a built-in speaker allows the device to maintain tiny footprint, but it connects easily via a wire or Bluetooth speakers if you are an audiophile.
Why do I need an Echo Dot when I have my phone?
Even in the age where smart phones (and tablets) have the potential to replace everything from cameras to wall calendars, many stand-alone devices make up for lack of function variety by being really good at the single task they were designed to do. I don’t plan on replacing my DSLR with a smart phone anytime soon and I think Amazon did a good job designing software that excels at playing the role of a virtual personal assistant. The devices themselves are designed to pick up audio from across the room, when smart phones (and tablets) often require the device to be closer to the person speaking. For me this great since I don’t have to remember to keep my phone within voice range as I’m moving around a room while working on a project. Plus (big PLUS!!!) since the device is always plugged in, I don’t have any “doh” moments when I realize I forgot to plug-in (or dock ) my device to maintain battery life. Whoops.
So, what does an Echo Dot have to do with sewing?
Mental math has never been my strong point and being able to calculate while having my hands busy with something else is HUGE for me. This is a massive “Where have you been all my life?!” feature and if you are even 20% (40%?) like me, being able to crunch numbers while working will be amazing… and magical… and make you feel like you live in the world of Harry Potter.
Fun fact: You actually have several options for the command to wake the device and the options include the word “computer”. I’m a big Star Trek geek so I usually have mine set to “computer” just for the giggles. I switched it to “Alexa” since that is the most famous and the default command for the videos.
and you can use it to buy sewing related stuff…
There is also options to shut off voice purchasing from the device completely or have a 4 digit code you speak. Since my Echo Dot is in a common area shared with the kids, and I don’t want them ordering a dollhouse and a billion cookies, I have it set to the code so I can still “browse”. Even with ordering off, Alex will add things to your Amazon cart.
Is the Echo Dot perfect?
NO! I’m still trying to find a decent note taking skill for Alexa. This is something I really wish Amazon would add as a native feature for the software since one of the things a real-life personal assistant does is take notes. I’m still working my way through the pile 3rd party note apps. So far finding one that has both decent communication abilities, will semi-organize the notes, and put them somewhere accessible from other devices, has been elusive. The one I’ve been using regularly is My Notebook which will add my notes to Evernote, in a big generic heap of “A note from Alexa” messages. With the huge popularity for Alexa, I really have high hopes that in the near future I will be able to easily make organized sewing and blog notes as I’m working.
Even if “math” is the main reason why I consider the Echo Dot to be relevant to a sewing space, that combined with the huge range of all-purpose abilities makes it a device worthy of being within ear-shot of your sewing space.