- Amazon released the Echo Wall Clock, an Alexa companion device, in September 2018.
- Currently selling for $29.99, the Echo Wall Clock can keep track of digital timers and sets the time automatically once it’s synced to another Echo device.
- The Echo Wall Clock doesn’t have any microphones, cameras, or speakers; it operates using Bluetooth when paired with a compatible Echo device, like the Echo Dot and Echo smart speaker family.
- While it’s a nice complement to an existing Alexa smart home setup, the Echo Wall Clock doesn’t offer too many advantages over a regular clock.
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When Amazon’s Echo Wall Clock arrived in Business Insider’s office, I wasn’t exactly sure what the product was meant for. After all, the clock has no speakers, no microphone, and doesn’t have built-in Alexa, the digital assistant that controls Amazon’s family of Echo smart home devices.
As a matter of fact, the clock can’t even tell the time correctly unless it’s paired with another one of Amazon’s Echo devices. So what’s the point of a smart home device with no camera, microphone or stand-alone features? As someone who hadn’t owned a wall clock since I moved out of my parents’ home, I figured I’d try to find a use for it.
When I brought the Echo Wall Clock home, my partner immediately rolled her eyes at the possibility of another smart home device listening in on our conversations. The Echo Wall Clock doesn’t have it’s own microphone, but her hesitation was understandable – we already have two Echo Dots and an Echo Plus in our office, bedroom, and living room. While we enjoy using them for music and a range of other skills, adopting new smart devices doesn’t come without security concerns.
As an Echo companion product, the Echo Wall Clock isn’t a standalone smart device, so how does it compare to a regular clock? Well, there are certainly pros and cons when comparing Amazon’s $29.99 clock to what you might find for $10 in a department store.
Here are the best and worst things about Amazon’s Echo Wall Clock:
At face-value, the Echo Wall Clock isn’t much different from a regular clock.
For those worried about smart home tech being too invasive, the Echo Wall Clock doesn’t add another ever-present microphone or screen, and doesn’t force the user to learn how to manage a new device. Instead, Alexa just uses the clock as a visual aid for some of its standard features.
Ultimately, the Echo Wall Clock does what you’d expect from a standard clock: it tells the time at a glance and helps keep track of alarms and timers.
The design of the Echo Wall Clock is surprisingly plain.
There’s no screen on the Echo Wall Clock, just a 10-inch-wide clock face with LED lights to keep track of your timers. The face of the clock is uncovered by glass or clear plastic, meaning the hands are exposed.
The clock is battery-operated and pairs with existing Echo devices with the push of a button. The light above the “6” will glow to show when the clock has connected via Bluetooth, but remains unlit otherwise.
The Echo Wall Clock will easily pair with Echo devices through a voice command or through the Alexa app, and can set the time automatically. Unfortunately, there’s no way to set the time or keep the clock running without a paired device.
The clock doesn’t have any sort of night light or glow-in-the-dark features either; it would have been nice for Amazon to include an option to automatically illuminate the specific LEDs for the current hour and minute.
The Echo Wall Clock is good for kitchen timers and morning routines, but it relies on the paired Echo device to sound the alarm.
The Echo Wall Clock isn’t exactly feature-rich, but implementing it into my smart home setup encouraged me to fully explore Alexa’s timer and alarm functions. (Keep in mind that the clock doesn’t have any speakers, so it relies on the connected Echo device to actually sound the alarm.)
Alexa has a variety of alarm settings that let you choose your own music, arrange dynamic volume, or set a specific celebrity voiceover to help you wake up. The Echo Wall Clock will automatically flash when your alarms and timers goes off.
I had already used my bedroom Echo Dot to set a daily alarm, but I found that waking up to the glowing halo of the Echo Wall Clock’s lights were much more likely to get me out of bed in the morning. Being able to keep track of kitchen and laundry timers without consulting my phone or asking Alexa was another nice benefit to using the Echo Wall Clock.
But the Echo Wall Clock depends a bit too much on its paired Echo device.
The biggest drawback of the Echo Wall Clock is its heavy reliance on its partner Echo device. It must be within 30 feet of the paired device, and if the clock is disconnected, it will stop running. It triggers an odd relationship with Alexa – rather than asking for time updates, you’ll be relying on the virtual assistant to maintain the correct time.
The Echo Wall Clock will automatically reset to the correct time once it reconnects to its paired device, but in a situation like, say, a power outage, where one would rely on a traditional clock to tell the time, the Echo Wall Clock is useless.
This would be less of a concern if Amazon hadn’t already been forced to pull the Echo Wall Clock from its site for several weeks due to connectivity issues.
Plus, Amazon says on the device’s product page that the clock will become temporarily disabled while you play music out of the Echo device the clock is paired with (it will reconnect after you stop playing music). That means that the clock will not be able to tell the time or alert you that a timer is up while you play music from your Echo.
The Echo Wall Clock isn’t a full-fledged smart home device; it’s a companion to Amazon’s growing family of Echo smart speakers.
- Getty/Stephen Brashear
While it’s a relatively affordable companion device, the Echo Wall Clock is a rather plain smart home addition compared to Amazon’s Echo Show and Echo Spot devices. Both devices are significantly more expensive, but they are independent, Alexa-enabled smart speakers with LCD screens that display the time, weather, alarms, and plenty of other info.
The Echo Wall Clock is a simple device that works just fine, but it’s a hard sell if you’re not already invested in Alexa.
I feel like my thoughts on the Echo Wall Clock are mostly defined by what the clock can’t do, rather than what it can. It doesn’t have the sort of security concerns I often associate with smart home devices, but it also lacks the sort of innovative technology I expect from Amazon’s Echo devices.
Without the ability to tell time on its own, and no way to read the clock in the dark, it feels like the Echo Wall Clock isn’t a particularly impressive clock, either. At best, the device is a serviceable complement to your existing Alexa devices.
But while the Echo Wall Clock makes a nice companion for Alexa, I’m not sure if it’s really adding anything to my home. As someone who hasn’t owned a wall clock in years, Amazon has helped remind me that not every problem needs a high-tech solution.