₹4,999
4,999

Amazon Echo Auto: Now, you can bring Alexa into your car

The device depends on your phone for connectivity, which is why it will work only when the phone is in the vicinity

NEW DELHI : The Echo Auto is a tiny device that brings Alexa inside your car. It supports both auxiliary and Bluetooth connections, which means even some of the oldest car stereo systems can be connected to it for voice input. Once connected and set up, you can simply ask Alexa to play a song, read the news, read a book from Kindle or ask for directions. The audio comes through the car’s speakers, and, as the phone is connected to the Auto, it automatically doubles up as a speaker for phone calls.

The device depends on your phone for connectivity, which is why it will work only when the phone is in the vicinity. Also, it often fails to connect or play music when the network on your phone is lost or low. This will be a major problem when on inter-state journeys, as data connections along highways aren’t always dependable.

The Auto draws power from your phone’s cigarette lighter slot, which many use for car chargers too. That means you will have to dedicate this port to the Auto, and it will lose power every time you turn the car off. This is a tiny hiccup, and not really something that affects usability.

There’s really no questioning the usefulness of this device. In fact, this may actually be the only Echo speaker that solves a real purpose in India—that of making old cars smarter. According to Amazon’s product pages, the 2013 Honda Civic, 2014 Honda CRV, 2015 Toyota Camry, and 2017 Toyota Corolla don’t work with the Echo Auto’s Bluetooth connection. The auxiliary connection works for these.

The bigger problem is Amazon’s pricing. At 4,999, the Echo Auto isn’t without competition. There are devices from MapMyIndia et al, which do a slightly better job of making an old car smart. They are usually more expensive, but offer stand-alone connectivity and more features, which makes the Echo Auto an entry-level device. For that, an Echo Dot-like pricing would perhaps have made the device more accessible.

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PROS

■ Brings voice support to almost any car

■ Traffic noise doesn’t affect reception

■ Doesn’t take a lot of space in your car

CONS

■ Pricing may be a tad high for many

■ Doesn’t have its own power source

■ Wired connection is quite messy

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