Amazon Echo Frames review: Bring Alexa on the go, but… why?

Do not Like

  • Audio high quality is poor
  • Battery life is not nice
  • No abilities designed for Alexa on the go
  • Plastic feels low-cost

Amazon’s Echo Frames drew plenty of attention after they have been introduced final 12 months among the many firm’s Alexa-powered blitz of latest merchandise. Not like Google’s ill-fated Glass or Snapchat’s Spectacles, Amazon’s $250 specs (discounted to $180 as a part of its invite-only Day One version prelaunch) look largely like common glasses. In addition they lack cameras, outward-facing lights or a heads-up show. 

As an alternative, the large attraction is the assist for Alexa, which the Frames can summon anyplace. This basically frees Alexa from the restrictions of a house speaker or an app in your cellphone. However in apply, the Day One Version of Amazon’s Echo Frames may be very a lot a beta product. If Amazon desires to really lead within the good glasses house, it must make huge enhancements on the frames’ sound high quality, construct and efficiency. 

In any other case, the Echo Frames run a giant danger of becoming a member of the tech graveyard with Glass, Spectacles and the remainder of them. 

Amazon’s Echo Frames seem like common glasses. 

James Martin/CNET

Echo Frames look good, however feels low-cost

With thick black lenses à la Tina Belcher, the Echo Frames aren’t going to be for everybody. However they do have a contemporary, polished look. The plastic arms — which home parts together with the audio system, microphones, battery and magnetic charging connector — have been mild and cozy, even after carrying them for hours on finish. 

And identical to common glasses, they fogged up each time I stepped outdoors and wore a masks on a sizzling summer time day in New York Metropolis. The Frames are IPX4-rated, so all of the digital parts ought to be capable to stand up to sweat or splashes of water. That stated, they don’t seem to be waterproof so you continue to should not take them in a pool or to the seashore. 

As a result of the glasses I obtained did not have prescription lenses, I wore mine with my contact lenses and it labored out effective. However the Echo Frames might be fitted with prescription lenses, with Amazon creating a little guide so that you can take to a neighborhood optician. Amazon will get factors right here as another audio-focused good glasses, like Bose‘s equally priced Frames Alto and Rondo sunglasses, haven’t got that choice. 


Bose’s Frames Alto, left, can lay flat on a floor not like Amazon’s Echo Frames. 

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

However whereas the frames look comparatively good, for $180 (or the $250 common value after the invitation window has closed), Amazon must put extra give attention to the construct high quality. The plastic feels low-cost and fragile. I additionally may by no means get the glasses fully closed as a result of the arms have been so cumbersome, and it ended up wanting awkward and unbalanced.

The irony is that each one the opposite items included within the field give off the impression of a premium product, together with the leather-based glasses case and braided charging cable. However once more, the glasses really feel like the most affordable factor within the bundle.

Echo Frames’ battery life and controls


The underside proper aspect of the Echo Frames homes the magnetic charging connectors, quantity rocker, energy/mute button in addition to two audio system and a microphone. 

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

Along with design, battery life is just not a powerful level, and it is one thing even Amazon acknowledges on its web site, noting that “battery life is optimized for on a regular basis Alexa utilization.”  And prolonged intervals of playback, like music streaming, “will drain the battery extra shortly.”

Throughout my testing over the previous couple of weeks, I performed lots of music, made a number of cellphone calls and requested a bunch of inquiries to Alexa. I used to be capable of roughly 6 hours and 40 minutes of battery whereas doing that blend, although on days the place I did extra music streaming I observed the battery drain faster. 

You’ll want to maintain that USB charging cable helpful to ensure you can get via a full day. Roughly a half-hour of charging acquired me again to 60%, with Amazon claiming on its web site {that a} full cost takes about 75 minutes.  

While you say Alexa, a bit blue mild seems over your proper eye by the bridge of the nostril and a chime performs over the audio system to let you realize it is listening. 


While you say Alexa, a blue mild illuminates above the appropriate eye to point out you it’s listening. 

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At first I discovered the blue mild distracting, however I acquired used to it over time. It additionally made for a couple of awkward encounters when my eyes have been wanting in the direction of the Frames itself. To others round me, it seemed like I used to be simply cross-eyed. To mute Alexa, double-click the facility button underneath the appropriate arm. Just a little pink mild will flash and Alexa will let you know it’s muted, whereas a bit charging mild underneath the appropriate arm may also flip pink, not you could see it whereas carrying the Echo Frames. 

Understand that muting the mics on the glasses will mute every little thing the mic for every little thing, together with for cellphone calls. Once I wished to speak to somebody I needed to bear in mind to unmute my glasses, which was a little bit of a ache.

It’s value noting you’ll be able to summon Siri or Google Assistant together with your voice utilizing the Frames by saying “Hey Siri” (on an iPhone) or “OK, Google” (Android) or by holding down on a touchpad built-into the appropriate arm. 

Alexa comes with you all over the place, however do you really want it to? 


Amazon’s Echo Frames seem like a pair of standard glasses. 

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

The massive attraction of the Echo Frames, after all, is not its type however the expertise. After turning into a mainstay in millions of households, Alexa really strikes outdoors the home with the Frames. However that is nothing like Jarvis within the Iron Man motion pictures. Within the Frames, Amazon’s good assistant actually is not significantly better than Siri. 

When linked to an iPhone or Android cellphone over Bluetooth, it could make audio calls, play music, set timers and reply questions (corresponding to “what is the climate?”). The Echo Frames additionally make the most of Alexa abilities and good system controls, so it could activate suitable good lights or a TV. 

Granted, it’s good to ask out loud if it will rain when seeing ominous clouds, after which instantaneously get a solution. I additionally like having the ability to ask about any random factoid (a sports activities rating, say) with out having to take out my cellphone. Alexa does a great job of calling my contacts too (although it is not capable of ship an iMessage, provoke a video name or connect with WhatsApp). Typically, until you are a giant Alexa person, I am not satisfied that the good assistant does sufficient to justify shopping for the Frames. 

Not like Google Glass, for instance, which had a small heads-up show for displaying info and a digicam for capturing the world round you, Echo Frames are audio-only. This significantly limits their augmented actuality potential of their present type and I’ve but to search out any Alexa abilities designed for getting used out and about.

For some duties, like after I requested for instructions, Alexa directed me to the Alexa app on my cellphone which opened Apple Maps. At that time, it was no totally different than simply grabbing my cellphone. 

Alexa did not even deal with the turn-by-turn navigation, as a substitute, it defaults to the Maps app which gave voice instructions over Bluetooth the identical manner it will with any headphones (I additionally could not change the default mapping choice to Google Maps on iOS).  

Audio is satisfactory, however not definitely worth the value


The Echo Frames depend on a Bluetooth connection to your cellphone. 

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

Total, the Frames’ audio is middling, and when you’re wanting to make use of these as headphone replacements, it is best to look elsewhere. Amazon touts the Echo Frames as having “open-ear expertise,” which is advertising and marketing converse for having little downward-facing audio system subsequent to your ears versus buds inside them. 

The audio integration was one of many Echo Frames options I used to be most enthusiastic about when the specs have been first introduced, making the precise execution all of the extra disappointing. 

Not like the Bose Frames, Amazon’s specs are utilizing conventional audio system and never newer expertise like bone conduction, which pumps the audio vibrations into your ear via your cranium. 

Which means not solely is your audio public and other people round you’ll be able to hear in in the event that they listen shut sufficient, however the glasses additionally sound a lot worse than AirPods or different Bluetooth headphones. 

The Frames have 4 audio system (two in every arm), however after I performed music, it typically sounded hole and tinny, with songs sounding like they have been being clipped at greater volumes. The open-ear method additionally makes for difficult listening when strolling a busy New York Metropolis avenue. 

Compared, Bose’s Frames not solely had considerably higher audio high quality, however the usage of bone conduction meant I had a lot larger privateness when listening close to others. 

I must say although that one vibrant spot was within the two mics and I obtained no complaints about sound from these I spoke with over FaceTime or conventional cellphone calls.

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Eli Blumenthal