Amazon’s Alexa — the voice-activated AI assistant that can order you a pizza, tell you the weather, control your household’s lighting, and, above all else, dunk on Apple’s Siri — has now made its way into enough devices that it can manage just about every item on you and your loved ones’ entertainment itineraries. Want to liberate your friends and family from the scourge of pushing buttons this holiday season? Some combination of these Alexa-integrated gadgets should do the trick.
Imagine an Amazon Echo, only it sounds really, really, really good. Sonos integrated the Alexa OS into its latest line of speakers, meaning they can control everything in your Alexa-enabled home network, just like an Echo. And as has always been the case with Sonos, users can set up multiple units throughout the house and simply say what they want to hear and where. It’s now on sale as a pair, and cheaper than if you buy two individual speakers. Tori Amos in the kitchen as a soundtrack for cutting onions? You got it. Wu-Tang in the shower as you loofah? Just say the words.
Amazon Echo Show
The Echo has been the beating robot heart of Amazon’s Alexa platform since its launch in the summer of 2015, and since that time the product line has moved beyond its original cylindrical design into a variety of other forms. The Show is the first Echo to offer an integrated screen, which adds to its versatility: Now, in addition to the standard Alexa features, you can also watch TV, movies, and web videos — some, at least — right on the device.
Fire TV Stick
The Fire TV flock of gadgets is Amazon’s entry into the Great Streaming App Devices scrum that also includes Apple TV and Roku (and, sure, Chromecast), all of which make watching Netflix, Hulu, et al, on your TV easier. While the products are largely non-differentiated when it comes to core functions (especially following the recent détente between Apple and Amazon), Fire TV owners will appreciate the ability to control their programming via Alexa: Just shout, “Alexa, play Suicide Squad on my Fire TV” and the assistant will queue it up without judging you. At $35, the portable Stick is the most affordable entree into the Fire TV family.
Logitech Harmony Companion Remote
These universal remotes combine the voice-activated tech of the future with the familiar muscle-memory concept of a TV remote. They enable users to control any device compatible with Amazon’s services, and can be paired with up to eight devices at a time. Turning on a TV, adjusting its volume, switching among HDMI ports, changing cable and Roku channels, and much more can be done with the voice-command features.
Ultimate Ears Speakers
These little fellas can connect to an Echo Dot to play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. They produce an impressive amount of sound considering their size, and their weather-proofing makes them perfect for outdoor parties.
Sony Bravia TV
When the Bravia is paired with certain Alexa-enabled devices, users can control their viewing experience — channels, volume, music, and streaming apps, etc. — just by talking. The Bravia boasts 4K Ultra HD resolution, and it’s available in 43-inch, 49-inch, and 55-inch models.
Bragi Dash Pro Wireless Headphones
These wireless earbuds — smaller than Apple’s AirPods — now come with an Alexa compatibility. Once the earbuds are connected to the Dash app, users can stream from Amazon Music Library, Amazon Prime Music, Audible, and TuneIn Radio — and they can upload 4GB of mp3s for listening at any time, so they don’t need to be tethered to a phone to go outside for a bit.