The Amazon Echo Dot offers all of Alexa’s voice control features and surprisingly good sound in a tiny, package, but even that can get a little pricey if you want to spread Alexa to every room of the house.
That’s where the Echo Flex comes in. The Flex is a smart speaker that plugs directly into a power outlet and lets you access Alexa pretty much anywhere, like a bathroom, laundry room, or garage.
It’s wonderfully affordable and functional just don’t expect much in the way of audio power.
Table of Contents
Tiny and Simple
The Echo Flex looks very different than the rest of the Echo line in its bland boxiness. It’s a simple, white plastic box measuring 2.9 by 2.7 by 1.4 inches (HWD), with rounded corners on the sides and a two-prong power plug on the back.
Plugged in, the Flex looks almost like a smart outlet, except a bit bulkier and lacking holes in the front. Instead, the front panel holds Alexa and Mic Mute buttons, a small indicator light, two pinhole microphones, and two small grilles for the internal speaker.
You won’t be plugging any appliances into the Echo Flex, but you can still charge your phone with it.
A USB port on the underside of the device lets you charge phones and other small gadgets. It also lets you connect optional accessories, like a motion sensor or a night-light.
A 3.5mm audio output sits on the right side of the Echo Flex, though no cable is included.
Fully Functional Alexa
Setting up the Echo Flex is just like setting up any other Echo speaker. Plug it into an outlet, wait until the light turns orange, then use the Alexa app to link it to your account and assign it to a room.
Once that’s done, you can start using it just by saying, “Alexa,” followed by a question or command.
The tiny Echo Flex can do anything other than Echo speakers can, with support for the full range of Amazon Alexa voice assistant features.
You can ask Alexa for general information like weather reports, check your schedule if you link your preferred calendar account through the Alexa app, set timers, add items to your to-do list, and perform other convenient functions.
Alexa can control thousands of different smart home devices, including all major brands like Nest, Philips Hue, and TP-Link.
Alexa can also use countless third-party skills to do everything from order pizza to tell bedtime stories.
For communication, Alexa can make phone calls to most phone numbers in North America, and make voice calls to other Echo devices and Alexa app users through Amazon’s Drop-In service.
You can even ask Alexa to play music from Amazon Music or read audiobooks from Audible on the Echo Flex, but this isn’t the intended use of the device.
The tiny 0.6-inch built-in speaker is outpowered even by the Echo Dot’s 1.6-inch driver, so you don’t get much sound out of it.
You can use the 3.5mm output to connect your own speaker if you wish, though. Of course, at that point, you might want to consider just getting a full-size Echo speaker.
I plugged the Echo Flex into a counter-height power outlet in my kitchen for testing. It worked exactly as intended after I set it up, providing access to all of Alexa’s voice command features.
It lets me control my TP-Link Kasa smart lights and AmazonBasics Microwave with my voice, including light-dimming and light-brightening routines that were already set up on my account.
I asked Alexa for the weather and got a quick response, and I even successfully used the Echo Flex to call my cell phone.
The microphones never failed to pick up my commands, even half-shouted around a corner through the doors of my kitchen.
The Echo Flex’s tiny speaker is its biggest weakness. In a relatively quiet apartment, I could hear Alexa’s responses clearly in and near the kitchen where the Flex was installed, and I could even discern what Alexa was saying when the TV was on while I was in the same room, but just barely.
If you want to plug it into a foot-level wall outlet behind a couch, don’t expect to hear much of anything from it.
And, while I could play some jazz from Amazon Music on the Echo Flex, it was barely loud enough to hear compared with the voice responses and was completely drowned out when I used the microwave.
If you’re looking for a cheap, simple way to add Alexa to other rooms of your house, and you have an open wall outlet in a convenient location, the Echo Flex is an excellent little device.
It lets you enjoy Alexa in all of its voice command glory for just $25, in a design that you can plug into the wall and simply forget about.
It isn’t perfect; the lack of a power outlet is a missed opportunity to make the Echo Flex even more flexible, and its audio power is weak even compared with the Echo Dot, which is still our budget smart speaker of choice.
If you want to expand Alexa to your bathroom or laundry room without finding table space for a speaker, though, the Echo Flex is an ideal solution.