When I first heard about the Echo Connect with its ability allow my mother to call 911 by saying, "Alexa, Call 911", I was excited to say the least. Since mom would not wear her pendant, which she could use to call for help, I was happy to see a hands-free, voice activated solution. As it turns out I am not alone. I have talked to a lot of people in the last few months that are in the same boat I am and looking for a solution.
I installed the Echo Connect yesterday and I am glad to say, it worked as I expected. There are some issues and the negative reviews on Amazon’s website show it.
UPDATE: The Connect did NOT work as expected. Make sure you read the section below about receiving phone calls with the Echo Connect
Before you setup the Echo Connect
When I was setting the Connect up at my mothers, the installation failed twice. The final registration part of the setup process failed. As near as I can tell when you purchase an Echo device the device is pre-associated with YOUR Amazon account. This makes it easier for you to activate the product when you set the Echo up using the Alexa app on your smart phone. I had to setup the Connect using my smart phone onto my account, then De-Register the device and perform a reset. The reset process is simple. Find a paper clip, bend the end out and insert into the reset hole on the back for 5 seconds. I had to do this a couple times and I think it took less than 5 seconds. Either way once you get the orange WiFi light to flash, it is reset and ready to go.
Once I had reset the device, I was able to set it up on my mothers account with ease.
Setting up the Echo Connect
The Echo Connect sets up like all Echo products with one addition. You can choose if the Connect makes calls using Alexa Calling, which is essentially a free Voice Over IP (VOIP) service. The caller ID will be shown as the mobile number of the phone used to setup the device. Calls not supported by Alexa Calling such as 911, N11 numbers and calls outside the US, Mexico or Canada will be placed on the provided phone service plugged into the Connect. The phone service can be a traditional landline or VOIP service compatible with 911.
Making phone calls
To place a call you only have to say, “Alexa, call Dave”. Assuming Alexa is your selected trigger word and you have a Dave in your smart phone address book and you want to call Dave, but you get the idea. To call 911, you say “Alexa, call 911”. That simple.
There are some audio level issues I need to test further and I will update this review when I can.
Receiving phone calls
When an incoming call occurs the landline rings and the Echo and Echo Dot ring as well and announce the call. This is confusing sense mom’s home phone also make a verbal announcement of the caller ID. I will test this issue further in a few days and update this review when I do.
To answer a call you say “Alexa, answer the phone”. I am sure there are other phrases you can use to answer the phone. Again, I will test more in a few days.
UPDATE: We cannot use the Echo Connect to answer calls without either locking the Echos up, requiring a power cycle, or they simple do not work reliably. We did have success a couple times answering a call but most the time there were issue. The Echo and Echo Dot both announced an incoming call, so the Connect does understand a call is incoming, but when we asked Alexa to answer the phone, she said there was no incoming call. I am sure this is only a software fix and not defective physical units.
I left the Connect installed because placing calls seems to work just fine and calling 911 was the primary reason I purchased the device and that feature works.