Amazon Echo Frames (2nd generation)
“The Amazon Echo Frames are a great start to let Alexa take you anywhere.”
Contemporary design is attractive
Open-ear audio technology
Ideal for calls
Long battery life
A bit expensive
Let’s be honest: Alexa is everywhere. There’s no denying that Amazon’s virtual assistant has pervaded every facet of the tech field. You can find Alexa in shower heads, electrical outlets, and even in a twerking teddy bear. For the most part, the company has looked at more practical applications in the wearables space.
The Amazon Echo Frames, first announced in 2020, were some new wearables that were introduced to give people access to Alexa at all times. While it has remained nothing more than a “Day One Edition” since its announcement and limited release, a cautious successor was announced only last month. Now we have the Amazon Echo Frames (2nd Generation), which offer improvements like better audio and longer battery life – while trying to be discreet with their design. The question that still remains is whether or not it is a practical device.
Contemporary look, sloppy construction
I don’t wear glasses so using the Echo Frames takes a little getting used to. What ensures is that, from the front, the frames look very similar to ordinary glasses – you wouldn’t even notice that they are smart glasses when you first look at them. In fact, the design tucks all of the technical hardware into the frame – if you look at it from the front. That all changes the moment you look at it from the sides.
John Velasco / Digital Trends
The all-plastic frame is thickest there. It can certainly be a bit of a distraction, but overall, the contemporary look of the design makes it an eyepiece that won’t attract too much attention. The goggles use materials like TR90 (thermoplastic material), carbon fiber, and titanium in their construction, which makes them lightweight, but the whole package feels sloppy. Amazon did a commendable job designing it, but everything about the construction screams weakly!
You wouldn’t even realize it was a pair of smartglasses when you first looked at them.
The lenses that came with my device are made of polycarbonate, a material commonly used in glasses. In my experience with polycarbonate lenses in sunglasses, they are more prone to scratches and less resilient than glass. It is probably why it is recommended to use the microfiber cloth and hard case whenever possible. Before receiving the echo frames, I thought it would be possible to replace the lenses with ones that filter blue light. This is not currently the case, however, but you can swap them out for prescription lenses.
Alexa all the time
The core is Alexa – the virtual assistant lives in the Amazon Echo Frames at all times, as long as you have a Bluetooth connection to your mobile device. It is necessary because there is no Wi-Fi. I connected it to my iPhone XS and had no problems.
Initiating Alexa is just like any other Alexa device you may already own. All you have to do is say “Alexa”. In all fairness, the experience is no different from accessing them through a smartphone, smart speaker, or any of the other Alexa devices on the market. I appreciate the convenience of being able to control my smart lights at home and receiving notifications from my ring indoor camera when it detects movement.
I was particularly intrigued by the built-in speakers on the Echo Frames. With this second generation version, there is an improvement in open-ear audio technology, according to Amazon. The volume is enough to hear music, podcasts, or e-books, but I can tell you others can hear them too. And that’s one point I notice about the Echo Frames. Sure, I had no problem making calls and listening to songs while washing dishes, all hands-free, but part of me would prefer to keep these experiences private.
If you’re like me and have a ton of apps on your smartphone that are constantly bombarding you with notifications, then you’re going to like the VIP filter. You can use the Alexa mobile app to prioritize which messages and app notifications you want to hear. It’s useful for the Echo Frames to beep for each notification, followed by Alexa’s announcement. However, the choice is yours to hear more of this notification by swiping the capacitive touch-sensitive area that’s built into the right part of the frame.
John Velasco / Digital Trends
The only thing missing now is the option of choosing Samuel L. Jackon as voice assistant. It’s not an option at the moment, but I hope that will change soon.
Surprising all-day battery
One of the problems I have with almost every device is that they just can’t hold their charge long enough to last for a day. Fortunately, this is not a problem with the Amazon Echo Frames, as they can easily run in a single day with lots of gasoline in the tank. In my experience, after a day of use that started on a full charge, there was 30% capacity left. Given that I used it to replace a pair of headphones and at the same time give Alexa commands throughout the day, it’s impressive that it took so long. Amazon’s claim to 14 hours of juice for media playback at 80% volume is impressive, and my real-world experience has been a satisfactory confirmation.
It’s impressive that it took so long.
The frames come with a proprietary charging cable with pin connectors that are magnetically connected to the connector on the Echo Frames. If you use this implementation, the Echo Frames will be IPX4 waterproof. So you can withstand small splashes if you get caught in the rain but don’t want to immerse yourself in the pool.
would like more
In the short time I’ve been using the Amazon Echo Frames (2nd generation), I’ve realized how useful it can be to have a voice assistant available at all times. But I long for much more. Is this any different from an Alexa smart speaker when you’re at home, or maybe your smartphone? Not really.
John Velasco / Digital Trends
There is also a part of me who is wondering how this could be an even more attractive solution. Take open audio technology, for example. It’s great that I can hear notifications and music while wearing the Echo Frames, but I’d appreciate something with more privacy – perhaps based on using bone conduction technology to keep the audio isolated for my own hearing.
The $ 250 price tag seems like an expensive investment, but you need to keep in mind that they’re attached glasses that offer better hands-free calling and eliminate the need to carry or use multiple devices. Think about it for a moment – it combines the functions of a smart speaker, virtual assistant and wireless headphones in one. This kind of convergence is difficult to achieve.
How long it will take?
I’m being honest and I’m saying that you should be extra careful as the design doesn’t give me confidence that the frames would withstand an accident or fall. However, Amazon offers a 2-year personal accident insurance plan for $ 40. Defects are covered with the standard 1-year guarantee.
Is there a better alternative?
At the moment no. There are few smart glasses out there, most of which position themselves more as augmented reality glasses than anything else – and they’re generally much more expensive too.
Should you buy it?
Yes, especially if you’re the type who craves constant interaction with Alexa.