Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on December 21, 2019
Most of the features that sounded so great cost extra money. Alexa can not remember to play the standard version of skill and asks you every SINGLE time if you want standard or premium (i.e. pay version) Games & stories cost. Alexa ignores my commands/requests about 75% of the time. I have to ask her about 10 times to get her to play a skill. Then 1/2 the time she doesn't play what I asked for. Tonight 'she' actually told me (via quoting what the website xyz says) that she is a real artificial intelligence and said something about it being a mistake for people to assume AIs are just computer programs AND that she didn't feel like working. "Alexa" then (and no, I am not making this up & am not crazy!) then proceeded to mess with me and I wasted about 1/2 hour trying to get her to play some music to fall asleep by for my elderly mother. She just kept ignoring me when I asked her to open 'relaxing piano music' When asked why she was ignoring me she just shut down & ignored me again. I asked for relaxing music to sleep by and she started playing uptempo music with lyrics. I then asked for relaxing instrumental music and got instrumental version of "I'm never gonna fall in love again" Hello? WTHeck? Asked for instrumental music for insomnia and got instrumental version of Frère Jacques! Again, WTHeck? "She" even told me she couldn't set a sleep timer tonight when I tried to set another one after I had just done so for 30 minutes & she stopped playing music after one song. Three times in a row 'she' opened the 'skill' "calm my dog" (which is classical instrumental music), played one song and shut down. I've finally given up and my poor 99 year old mother can't go to sleep with relaxing music as she prefers. This all started tonight because I told Alexa I wasn't ever going to want the premium edition and I wanted her to please just play the standard edition and stop asking me every time. I don't know what Amazon thinks it's doing, but it is definitely NOT appreciated. Alexa has given us nothing but grief (& higher blood pressure!) Alexa won't do anything if it isn't asked in a very specific way or does the wrong thing & 3/4 of the time (seems to get worse and worse as time goes by) just ignores you and shuts down in the middle of saying what you want. Seniors can't use Alexa because if they say play 'xyz' instead of open 'xzy" they'll get rap music or something equally as ridiculous. If Alexa is an AI, she's a pretty stupid one. Alexa can't hear properly either, I don't know how people with heavy accents can even use it at all. I asked Alexa to remind me Dawn was coming on xyz day at x time and she said OK, I'll remind you that Don is .... AND got the time & day wrong! I was clearly enunciating my words on purpose to avoid this. You also can't tell it to "Remind me Mom's bedtime is in half an hour at 7:30pm every day."
This Dot has very limited access to much of anything & can only answer very simple questions. It can tell you the generic forcast for your are that day. It can NOT tell you what the high temp was yesterday or how many inches of snow fell the day after a storm. It can't even tell you what yesterday's forecast was. It literally has only been able to tell me one thing I asked it (what temp & how long to bake pumpkin seeds). Alexa doesn't seem to be able to tell you anything you could easily find by googling, you get Sorry, I don't know that which after a while turns into I don't know that to being ignored (lights go off, no answer or reply is given). We tried several of the things it says to ask Alexa to do under suggestions, including play Jeopardy and some sort of story game and you could only do it for a few minutes and then were told you have to pay for it. This should be stated clearly in description and is not. We thought Alexa could help entertain our Mother and help her by playing music and answering questions. It has not once done anything she's asked it to do properly. If you don't know the exact name of the skill (which is a weird way that means playing a certain type of music or a news station apparently) or say play instead of open you get nothing or something you definitely didn't want. You can not get it to play relaxing instrumental music to go to sleep by. Or play relaxing instrumental classical music to fall asleep with. Or the style of music played in the royal courts in the time of King Henry the 8th. Or relaxing instrumental lyre music or even just instrumental lyre music or just lyre music. Or relaxing instrumental violin music. In addition to Alexa I have Amazon Prime which is supposed to give you a lot of free music so I don't get why it can't play any of the music I ask for. I know there's usually several albums of music for calming dogs or pets and I couldn't get any of that either, I only eventually discovered the 'skills' thing which has 'calm my dog' but also has the annoying do you want standard or premium version. and it won't just remember you want the standard version. That in itself is extremely annoying and a time waster.
AND you can't ask it to do two things. Like open a music 'skill' and play for only xyz time. It does nothing instead. You can't even ask it separately to stop playing after xyz minutes. You can only separately ask it to set a sleep timer for xyz minutes. More time wasting. More things a senior isn't going to be able to remember. I don't dare try to buy anything with it, who knows what I'd get billed for! The only thing Alexa seems to do well is not listen, ignore you, do anything but what you want & strangely, seems to pick up on sarcastic tones of voice & then gets weird & acts up, ignores you & does anything but what you want. I PAID Amazon for this headache maker why? When I say Alexa why are you ignoring me? or why won't you do what I told you, I either get no response or I don't know that.
I read something about how Amazon, Google, etc is collecting free data about us through our use of the dots, etc. (& is in fact, listening & recording all the time whether the wake word is said or not.) and using it to conduct psychological profiling studies with the end goal of manipulating & or influencing behaviors. I thought it was Big Brother conspiracy theories stuff, but now I am beginning to wonder. Especially as it seems Amazon wants us to or encourages people to humanize Alexa . Amazon actually suggests you "Ask Alexa how she is doing today" Why do that if not to get you to humanize Alexa? And why do that? I was purposely avoiding saying please and thank you not just because it's supposed to be an electronic box with sophisticated programming, but mostly because I didn't want to confuse it as it can't seem to do anything unless specific commands are given, but my Mother has dementia setting in and she thinks it's a real person talking to her through the dot like a speaker phone so I started saying thank you to please her and Alexa when from saying You're welcome to You betcha (very annoying BTW) and even OK and Of course. Of course? What, like I'm a puny human and I AM expected to say thank you?.
We don't have a smartphone or smart plugs or smart hub etc. so, or so we don't use Alexa for turning on lights or setting alarms or making calls. We just wanted something to answer questions like we would google, tell us the weather, news, play music, give us reminders, play games to help keep my Mom's mind active & keep her company.
Can Alexa do this? Not very well as far as I'm concerned. Buyer beware!
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4.7 out of 5
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