Do You Need Alexa to Use an Echo or Echo Dot?

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Alexa, Echo, Echo Show, Echo Dot…. what does all this mean? Do you need Alexa to use an Echo device?

There tends to be a little confusion around Alexa and Amazon’s Echo smart speakers. Especially for those who haven’t used Alexa before.

Fortunately, in this article, we’re going to get all that squared away for you. Let’s start with directly answering the question at hand and explaining the difference between an Amazon Echo and Alexa.

Can You Use An Echo Dot Without Alexa?

Technically, you’re going to need to use Alexa in order to use any Echo smart speaker or display. This includes the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show and any other Echo device. However, this shouldn’t be an issue for you.

Alexa is completely free with an Amazon account. If you don’t have an Amazon account – well, that is free too!

If you’re concerned about privacy, all Echo smart speakers allow you to turn off the device’s microphone (and camera in the case of an Echo Show). This way, it will only be activated at your discretion.

Let’s backtrack just a little to define the terms Alexa and Echo.

What Is Alexa?

Alexa is Amazon’s AI-powered voice-activated virtual assistant. She can answer your questions, tell you the weather, turn on your lights, remind you to pick the kids up from school, and much, much more.

So, Alexa is the brains and personality behind which many smart devices are powered and controlled. Her software isn’t installed in a particular device though. She lives on Amazon’s cloud.

Because of that, you can take her anywhere. You can even download the Alexa app to your smartphone right now, and use her features without having to make a single purchase.

What if you want to take things beyond your phone though? Well, that’s where the Amazon Echo comes into play.

Echo (4th Gen) | With premium sound, smart home hub, and Alexa | Charcoal

What Is An Amazon Echo?

The Amazon Echo is a line of smart speakers and displays designed to access Alexa’s AI. Unlike a traditional Bluetooth speaker, these devices house several components including microphones, speakers, a WiFi module, processor and a memory chip. This allows the user to access and control Alexa using voice commands.

As alluded to above, there is an Echo Show line which all include LCD displays. The display models also house a front-facing camera for added features such as video calls. Other benefits of the Echo Show comprise the ability to have Alexa play movies, display recipes and even the words to your favorites songs.

Just think of the Amazon Echo as the hardware and Alexa as the software.

Amazon Echo Alternatives

Not to add to the confusion, but I should bring up the fact that there are alternatives. Echo devices are not the only devices with Alexa support. Several third-party companies have built speakers featuring the Alexa voice assistant.

These include, but are not limited to, the Sonos One, the Bose Home Speaker and even the Ecobee SmartThermostat.

My personal opinion is that you should probably stick with Amazon brand Alexa capable speakers. They tend to have a more seamless integration.

Check out the best TV’s with built-in Alexa…

Do You Need Amazon Prime to Use Your Amazon Echo?

No, you do not need Amazon Prime to utilize the Alexa voice assistant. However, having an Amazon Prime membership has various benefits that go above and beyond the basic features.

Prime subscribers have access to Amazon Music Prime, as opposed to Amazon’s free streaming service. Prime benefits include ad-free music, personalized stations, access to over 2 million songs and the ability to create personalized playlists.

Amazon Prime members will also maintain their discounts and shipping perks while shopping with their virtual assistant. Just ask Alexa, “What are my deals?” If you own an Amazon Echo Show, a Prime membership will allow you to stream TV shows and movies via Prime Video.

Using Your Echo As A Bluetooth Speaker Without Alexa

It’s worth noting that you technically could use your Echo device as a Bluetooth speaker without using Alexa. The thing is, you’re going to need to initiate Alexa on the device upon setup. Otherwise, it won’t function at all.

Aside from avoiding Alexa, there are other reasons you might want to do that though. Streaming directly from your phone could be useful if you can’t access certain media with Alexa. Also, visitors can play their music on your speaker.

Pairing Your Amazon Echo With Your Wireless Device

  1. Place your wireless device in Bluetooth pairing mode.
  2. Say, “Alexa, pair.” Alexa will respond by saying “Searching…
  3. Your wireless device should now list your Echo’s device name. Select the device and confirm connection.
  4. Alexa will then verbally confirm Bluetooth pairing

If you are just looking for Bluetooth features though, I wouldn’t suggest purchasing an Amazon Echo. I would just grab a quality-sounding Bluetooth speaker like maybe the Bose SoundLink Color II.

Here Are Our Top Recommended Echo Smart Speakers:

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Conclusion

The bottom line is that the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show can’t really be used independently of Alexa. At least reasonably speaking. That being said, there’s no real reason not to use Alexa at that point.

There aren’t any extra costs associated and you can use precautions if you’re concerned about privacy issues. Echo speakers, especially the Echo Dot, are very reasonably priced as well.

On the other hand, if Bluetooth is what you’re looking for, there are a lot of great options.