I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison’s blog about software, marketing, politics, photography and time lapse.

Amazon Alexa Echo Wall Clock Review

Alexa Echo Wall Clock

It has one job and it's not great at it.

I've been itching to replace my kitchen clock. I stupidly bought a self-setting atomic clock and the instructions said (this was a few years ago so I'm paraphrasing) 'Install as high up as possible on a southern facing exterior wall - ignoring these instructions may interfere with reception of the time signal.' Of course when used in my kitchen it has no idea what the time is. Due to the fancy mechanism it's extremely painful to set the time manually - you push a tiny button and try to stay awake while the hands move round and ultimately overshoot. Repeat.

It really should be illegal to sell things that tell you the time without some self-setting mechanism that works. Would it be hard to encode this in the electricity mains supply for instance? Or acquire via wifi or bluetooth? Every time I get in my car it connects to my phone but the car clock is clearly some cheap crystal that drifts daily and has no idea about daylight savings.

So the Echo Wall Clock is appealing because it should keep the right time without effort in addition to it's main role - visualizing Alexa timers. It's a stripped down implementation of the smart Glance clock but $170 cheaper at $30. It looks like most of those savings went to finding the cheapest possible plastic body. The Echo Clock also skips a face plate, which is a risk as if you touch the hands it will die.

Pairing is easy (via bluetooth) and it does manage to keep the right time. It's a decent if unattractive clock.

The timer function has taken the easy way out. If you set a five minute timer it lights up the minute marks from 12 up and then counts down. On a clock that knows what the current time is. This means that if you want to figure out when something is ready you're going to have to think. You need to look at the lit segments to see how long is left on the timer, and then add this on to the current position of the minute hand. I don't think anyone is buying a $30 timer visualizer to do minute-math. It would be a much better device if it just added the timer onto the current location of the minute hand, which is so obvious that this is what I expected to happen the first time I used it.

Overall it's cheap, cheap looking and flawed. But still a huge improvement on my kitchen's atomic age.