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    Amazon Echo Flex review: This tiny plug-in speaker puts Alexa in places where other Echo devices won’t go

    While the compact and cheap Echo Dot makes for a good way to place Alexa in your bed room, den, or house workplace, it’s not a lot assist in an area with minimal or nonexistent shelf area, corresponding to a kitchen counter, a hallway, or a device shed. Enter the Echo Flex, a diminutive, squarish Echo speaker with an built-in AC energy adapter so you possibly can plug it straight right into a wall outlet.

    The Flex’s iffy audio high quality isn’t appropriate for music, however it’s completely effective for chatting with Alexa, whereas the built-in USB port permits you to connect non-obligatory nightlight and motion-sensor modules. Best of all, the Flex’s $25 checklist worth (which we’re already seeing discounted) makes it enticingly inexpensive.

    Design

    Weighing in at 5.2 ounces and roughly the dimensions of a USB wall adapter, the boxy, 1.75 inch-thick Echo Flex (not counting the 2 rear AC prongs) is, from a design facet anyway, a far cry from the fabric-covered Echo Dot. While the Dot appears to be like proper at house on a bookshelf subsequent to household photographs, the utilitarian Flex appears to be like prefer it belongs in a toolbox; certainly, it’s an ideal instance of type assembly perform.

    On the entrance of the Flex are the usual Echo “Action” and mic-muting buttons, with an indicator mild above them that illuminates when Alexa is listening, together with a pair of flanking microphone holes. Beneath the buttons are two small speaker ports, whereas a 3.5mm line-out jack sits on the proper facet of the unit.

    Those are basically the identical controls you’ll discover on the Echo Dot, with a notable exception: there aren’t any quantity controls, which implies you’ll must ask Alexa or fiddle with the Alexa app to regulate the Flex’s quantity. (Then once more, I can’t keep in mind the final time I really touched the amount buttons on my Echo Dot.)

    Look on the underside of the Flex and also you’ll discover its USB Type-A charging port, which might provide as much as 7.5 watts of charging energy for a smartphone or different suitable machine. The USB port additionally acts as a socket for snap-on third-party modules that add performance to the Flex. For now, two can be found: a movement sensor and a wise nightlight. These price $15 every (you can too purchase them bundled with the Flex). When plugged in, the modules add about an inch to the Flex’s total top. I examined the Flex with the movement sensor (which I’ll focus on in higher element momentarily), however I didn’t attempt the nightlight.

    Ben Patterson/IDG

    The Echo Flex made for a pleasant match within the AC outlet above my kitchen sink.

    One function that’s lacking from the Flex is a passthrough AC socket, which implies you’ll basically lose an influence socket while you plug the Flex right into a wall outlet. That may very well be a difficulty in, say, a kitchen, significantly if in case you have the Flex plugged into an outlet above the counter the place you may also plan on plugging in mixers, blenders, or toasters. At least the Flex doesn’t take up each sockets, as long as it’s plugged into the underside one. You may additionally contemplate deploying an influence strip or surge protector right here (click this link to read about our top picks in surge protectors).

    Still, the truth that the Flex plugs into any wall outlet with out the necessity of an influence wire or a flat floor opens up every kind of fascinating potentialities. Aside from the truth that it occupies an influence socket that you simply would possibly use for an additional equipment, it’s fairly neat to have Alexa at your beck and name above the kitchen counter, on a workshop wall, and even in a hallway, all locations the place a bigger sensible speaker gained’t match.

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