July 15, 2024


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Amazon’s Echo Look camera turns Alexa into a fashion stylist

Editors’ note (June 6, 2018): Since the Echo Look’s debut in May 2017, Amazon has expanded its lineup of Echo smart speakers, refreshed older models, and continued to build out Alexa’s skillset, third-party integrations and special features. Though the competition has stiffened, too, none of the new smart speakers have made incursions into the Echo Look’s primary area of expertise. For now, Amazon continues to have the “virtual fashion assistant” space all to itself. 

The Echo Look was originally available by invitation only. It became widely available on June 6, 2018. Amazon also added features since its debut: The app will suggest items that pair with pieces you already own, organize your photos into collections, search by color, and receive more specific feedback.

The updated Amazon Echo Look review, originally published in June 2017, follows below.

Read this description of the Amazon Echo Look out loud: A $200 photo and video camera with a smart speaker built-in that also takes selfies and doles out fashion advice.

Does this sound silly? Then this product isn’t for you, and nothing I say in these next few hundred words will convince you otherwise. 

The Amazon Echo Look is a $200 internet-connected camera and smart speaker.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Amazon designed the Echo Look to appeal to a specific set of folks who care about their outward appearance and want a digital fashion adviser. You use the Echo Look’s camera to take hands-free, full-body selfies and videos that you store in the accompanying app. Amazon then uses a combination of artificial intelligence and advice from real stylists to help you decide between two outfits. And as crazy as it sounds, it does this job really well.

The Echo Look is at its best when you treat it as a fashion adviser instead of a smart-home speaker. It gives you an easy way to catalog your wardrobe and get a real-life view of how you look in your clothes. And the Style Check feature provides surprisingly good feedback about what you should wear.

But the Echo Look still has its faults. Its sound quality is poor, especially when you compare it to other Echo speakers. The app could use a few additional features to give you more proactive fashion advice. And it gives me pause to consider the amount of visual information Amazon will gobble up with this thing.

If you consider yourself fashion-conscious, you might want to find a spot in your budget and your closet for the Echo Look. But if you just want a smart speaker without a side of fashion advice, you’re better off with one of Amazon’s other Alexa-powered products.

The basics

At its core, the Echo Look is an internet-connected selfie and quick video camera that shares most of the same features as the rest of Amazon’s line of Echo products (the original Echo, the Echo Dot, the Echo Tap and the Echo Show). 

The speaker is on the back of the Echo Look, so the sound projects away from you.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It runs on Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated virtual assistant, and it can do almost everything other Alexa devices can. Via spoken Alexa commands, the Echo Look can stream music, check your calendar or tell you about the weather, among other tasks. And it connects to other internet-connected devices like plugs or light bulbs so you can control your smart-home with your voice.

In terms of looks, the Echo Look is more like a security camera than a speaker. It’s only 2.4 by 2.4 by 6.3 inches, so it doesn’t take up that much space. It screws into a base that allows you to easily tilt the camera to get the best shot of you (you can also mount it to a wall).

There are some noticeable shortcomings when you compare the Echo Look to its sister speakers. You can’t use it to send or receive messages, and it can’t differentiate which speaker you’re talking to if you have more than one Echo device in your home. The Echo Look’s sound quality is also noticeably worse than its sister Echos because the speaker is located on the back of the unit, so it projects sound away from you rather than toward you. 

Photos and videos

Remember that scene in “Clueless” (the 1995 movie, not the watered-down TV show) when Alicia Silverstone’s Cher was getting ready for her big lose-her-virginity date with Christian? She had some sage advice: “I don’t rely on mirrors, so I always take Polaroids.” 

The Echo Look is the 2017 version of Cher’s preferred way to preview an outfit. You place the camera on an elevated surface like the top of a dresser. Pull up the Echo Look app on your phone and use the video feed to adjust the camera so it captures a full-body view. 

Once you’re satisfied with the view, you can start taking selfies. This is where Alexa comes into play. You use voice commands to activate the camera, which gives you a hands-free way to grab a selfie. Let’s say you want to see how you look in a new pair of jeans and a top. Put on the outfit, use the app to see the camera’s view and position yourself in the middle of the frame and say, “Alexa, take my picture.” The Echo Look will beep twice, then the four LED lights that surround the camera will illuminate, and the camera takes your photo on the third beep. 

Four LED lights flash when the Echo Look takes your picture or video.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

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