The Amazon Echo series of smart speakers is popular for the great features, reliable functionality, and ever-increasing capabilities of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. With more music streaming services being added and new skills being developed, the product line continues to improve and provide great value to users. However, there is one major limitation with most smart speakers, including the Echo series; They have to be plugged in all the time, so you can practically only use them in one place.
That limitation is a thing of the past with the Amazon Echo Input Portable. Priced at Rs. 4,999, this Echo smart speaker has a rechargeable battery that allows the device to be carried around and used anywhere. We review the new Echo Input Portable to get an idea of how the Alexa experience goes.
Amazon Echo Input Portable Design and Specifications
The new Echo Input Portable apparently isn’t quite as big as the Echo (3rd Generation) (Review) or Echo Studio (Review). However, it’s a bigger notch than the Echo Dot with the watch (Review), and it also has similar specifications and capabilities.
Driving the Echo Input Portable is a 1.5-inch speaker, and you can stream music over Wi-Fi or connect to a Bluetooth source device to play audio. The highlight of this speaker is its 4,800mAh battery that lets you use it with a power adapter. Unlike other Echo devices, the Echo Input Portable can be unplugged and taken with you; You can easily place it anywhere in your home or even take it outside, as long as you are in your Wi-Fi coverage area.
Amazon recommends keeping the speaker plugged in whenever possible, but the option to freely place it anywhere makes it a welcome addition to the range, in our opinion. We often carry it around our house with us, relying on the battery instead of finding a convenient place to plug it in.
That said, the Echo Input Portable still needs to be connected to the Internet for its core functionality. Streaming music or talking to Alexa requires that you be in your Wi-Fi coverage area, or you can use a mobile hotspot.
You can use Bluetooth connectivity even without an internet connection, which makes this the first Echo speaker to bridge the gap between portability and smart connectivity.
The Echo Input is slightly larger than the portable Echo Dot, and looks a bit more rugged. The action and microphone mute buttons are on the top of the speaker, while the volume and power buttons are on the front. Having a power button is new, and it’s clearly needed given the portable nature of the speaker; Plug-in Echo devices are intended to be always on and available as long as they are plugged into a power outlet. The Echo Input Portable is always on when plugged in, and the power button only works when it’s running on battery power.
The classic light ring of other Echo devices is not incorporated into the design of the Echo Input Portable; Instead, there is a small indicator at the top that serves the same purpose, most likely to save power. The microphone at the top is always listening for voice commands when the speaker is on. The back of the device only houses the dated Micro-USB port for power and charging; There is no 3.5mm port for external connectivity. The use of the name ‘input’ is a bit confusing, as the device doesn’t function at all like the Amazon Echo Input, which acts as a voice input adapter for non-smart speaker systems.
Although a bit bulky, we liked the size and shape of the Amazon Echo Input Portable. There’s a grippy rubber base on the bottom, and the sides are cloth-wrapped. While we usually used Alexa and its music capabilities, we sometimes used Bluetooth connectivity as well. This will come in handy outside, and when internet connectivity is sketchy.
We were able to keep the Amazon Echo Input Portable running for about seven hours on its battery, with a mix of playing music over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, voice commands and responses from Alexa, and leaving the device in standby. This is good considering the size and functionality of the speaker.
Amazon Echo Input Portable Display
We weren’t particularly impressed with the sound quality on the new Amazon Echo Dot with Clock, so we weren’t expecting much from the Echo Input Portable given its similarities in terms of driver size and form factor. However, we were pleasantly surprised by its overall performance. The speaker naturally sounded best when streaming music over Wi-Fi, and was loud enough for personal use, or even for multiple people in a small room.
We’ve reviewed speakers with Alexa capabilities in the past, including the affordable Boat Stone 700A and the premium Sony SRS-XB402M. The Amazon Echo Input Portable is similar to the former when it comes to price and size, and the latter when it comes to connectivity and function. It connects directly to your Wi-Fi, whether via a fixed connection or mobile hotspot, and doesn’t require a companion app to function (after initial setup via the Alexa app, of course). The big advantage here is that you can use the entire suite of Alexa features, including communication and Alexa skills.
The microphone worked well for detecting Alexa voice commands and understanding instructions clearly, and we found the experience to be as fluid and efficient as ever. Amazon claims that Alexa in India is optimized to work well on hotspot connections that tend to be slow and patchy, and this showed in our experience with the Echo Input Portable.
Sound quality on the Echo Input Portable was decent, and pleasantly capable for such a small Echo device. While streaming music over the internet, we liked how clean and detailed the sound was. Listening to Your Love by Mark Knight, the track’s deep and impressive lows sounded great for such a small portable speaker.
Heading to the subway by the avalanche, we were impressed by the quality of the singing. Echo devices are generally geared toward the mid-range to ensure Alexa is heard clearly, but we found the sound on the Echo Input Portable to be fairly balanced, with plenty of range in this sample-based house track. Details can be heard. ,
Switching to Bluetooth, we found the sound to be a bit soft for our liking. When used with an Android smartphone, the volume controls in both devices synced, and even at the highest volume, the speaker was very soft when streaming music using Alexa. Soft tracks like If I Was a Folkstar by Avalanche could be heard clearly from only two feet away, sounding too monotonous from any distance. The loud, busy track was a bit much for them. Overall, we weren’t too thrilled with the lack of volume, especially considering that shoppers looking for a portable battery-powered speaker will typically rely on Bluetooth to listen to music.
The Amazon Echo Input Portable is the first Echo device to operate on its built-in battery, and this new one is quite capable in terms of portability. If you’re using the device at home, you can place the speaker anywhere in the house without worrying about where the nearest power socket is.
If you’re out and about, the device works fine on a mobile hotspot if you can’t find a fast and reliable Wi-Fi connection. Either way, you get the familiar Alexa and music streaming experience with good sound quality, along with impressive battery life for a speaker of this size.
However, the lack of 3.5mm connectivity and low volume when using Bluetooth are the two big drawbacks of the Echo Input Portable. If you can work around these issues, the Echo Input Portable is a good portable speaker to buy right now. With Alexa capabilities and smart connectivity there is nothing available under Rs. 5,000
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