Price (RRP): $55
The Echo Input is a clever niche device to add most Amazon Alexa voice capabilities to an existing amplified dumb speaker via 3.5mm AUX cable or Bluetooth.
Basically, the Echo Input is an Echo Dot without the speaker.
Review: Echo Input
OK – the Echo Input rationale
The cheapest Echo Dot speaker is $74. In our review, we wrote, “It would be unkind to expect a small speaker to do anything but voice and its fine for that. It has no bass, limited mid-range and no treble. The best description for a music signature is ‘painful’ with fairly high levels of distortion at a maximum volume of 75dB.”
But people were buying the Echo Dot as the entry-level to add Amazon Alexa and its far-field mic capabilities. The Echo Input costs $55 and means you don’t pay for a speaker you probably don’t need.
It comes with a 5V/1A (5W) USB-A to micro-USB charger/cable. Now if you are like me and every power socket is in use, you will be happy to know that it works fine on a standard PC/amplifier/router/Roku USB-A 2.0 5V/.5mA (2.5W) port as well.
First, we attached a JBL Extreme 2 via 3.5mm cable and opened the Alexa Android app. Note even though the speaker is battery powered it needs another 240V power point for continued use.
Press add a device, add Amazon Echo, Echo Input and then connect it to your Wi-Fi network (2.4 or 5GHz). It then prompts for speaker connection – Bluetooth or AUX.
Remember that the attached speaker must be amplified – Echo Input’s 3.5mm output has a very basic pre-amp (no amplifier) so it won’t drive wired headphones or speakers.
Voila – done! It worked with AUX.
Well not quite.
We had issues later changing from AUX to Bluetooth.
At first, we thought it might be that the Bluetooth speaker was about 4 metres away but moving it closer made no difference. We also wondered if the USB port on the PC was underpowered – it made no difference with the charger. We reset the speaker to factory defaults – no difference.
No, it was just not connecting.
Persistence paid off, and the JBL was finally recognised when we placed it beside the Echo Input. Our best guess is that the JBL supports multipoint connections (will connect to two Bluetooth sources) and the Echo Input does not like that.
When you say Hey Alexa it chimes to confirm it has heard the watchword. I am not sure that is necessary as a blue LED lights up too, but you can turn it off in the app. The app also emails you if your speaker becomes disconnected or if Alexa if unresponsive.