Amazon Echo Look review

Is Amazon’s fashion bot a matter of style over substance?

Amazon Echo Look review
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Amazon’s lineup of Echo speakers has burgeoned considerably since we first met Alexa, but the Echo Look stands in its own little corner. In fact, while rivals like Google and Apple have taken the fight to Amazon’s other smart speakers, none have tried to replicate what it’s doing with the Look.

The Look is essentially Alexa playing the role of style guru. The small camera-speaker takes full-body shots of your outfits and then, using its AI or crowdsourcing with the community, offers advice for improving your look. And when it’s not giving out out wardrobe tips, the Look acts as an Echo speaker.

Read this: The best Alexa-enabled devices

It’s unquestionably the most unique of the Echo range, but has Amazon managed to shrink Gok Wan wisdom into a 5-inch device, or is it all too superficial? Read on and find out.

Amazon Echo Look review

Amazon Echo Look: Design and setup

The Echo Look takes on an entirely different form to Amazon’s other smart speakers. Its tubular body sits on an adjustable base that lets you twist and turn it to get the perfect angle. I’ve found the Look to be pretty good at scanning me even from more awkward angles, so it's pretty versatile. It's also small, measuring 2.4 x 2.4 x 6.3 inches. The only problem with placing it, I found, was that the power cable comes out of the middle of the Look, and I found myself fighting against it when trying to position the camera as I wanted it. It would have made more sense to connect it at the base, but it's a niggle.

And if you’d prefer, you can stick the Look to a wall using the mounting kit Amazon includes in the box. Otherwise, setup is a case of sticking in the power cable, plugging that into an outlet, and downloading the Echo Look app. We know, we know, it’s another app to download, but as we said before, other than having Alexa built in, the Look isn’t like other Echo devices.

You’ll need to sign into the app using your Amazon account and get it connected to your Wi-Fi. Remember this is also an Alexa speaker that can control your smart home and answer your questions. After that’s done, you’re pretty much good to go.

Now, I said the Look is pretty versatile, but you still want to make sure you’re placing it for optimum quality. Amazon recommends placing the Look at about shoulder height and standing about five feet away. You want to get a head-to-toe shot that’s as clear as possible, so Amazon’s algorithms can work their magic and tell you if you’re onto a winner – or if you’re a sartorial sinner.

There’s one 5-megapixel camera on the front of the Look, which is surrounded by four LED lights that will illuminate when you’re snapping a picture to keep the camera sharp and honest, while the app will blur the background and bring you front and centre.

Amazon Echo Look review

Amazon Echo Look: Style Check

Now, I've never claimed to be a fashionable guy. I think I dress a lot better than I did three years ago, but each morning tends to be a case of putting on clothes that ostensibly go together and are comfortable. If you're not all that bothered about your clothes choices, the Look probably isn't for you. Or, perhaps you are bothered and just don't know how to improve your dress sense. In that case, the Look might be able to help.

The Look behaves a little like a smart mirror, in that you stand in front of it and in return get a good picture of how you look. You can take a photo, or a six second video if you want to get a 360-degree opinion, and these can be done by asking, "Alexa, take a photo" or "Alexa, take a video". It will then respond with a couple of warning beeps and a bright flash of the four LEDs. You can, if you prefer, take a photo by using your smartphone as the viewfinder, but since I've found the perfect spot and angle for my Look, I find asking Alexa is much simpler.

So that's how you take photos and videos, but when does Alexa start playing style guru? There are two ways in which the Look will help you dress better. The first is called Style Check, where you offer two different outfits and the magic algorithms will tell you which one looks better on you. As every photo taken is stored in the app, you can compare two outfits at any time by going to the Style Check tab, picking two photos from the roll and have them compared. This only takes a few seconds, and you'll get a push notification to let you know when the verdict is in.

Amazon Echo Look
Amazon Echo Look

Results work on a percentage basis, so obviously whichever has the highest number is the better option. Sometimes it can be a very small difference; in one case, an outfit only won with just 51% (so either both were good or both were bad). Amazon says this is all decided using its own AI mixed with advice from fashion experts, and each time you select the outfit of the two that you prefer, it feeds back into the system, helping Amazon's AI to learn.

When you get your result, you can tap to get more information on why the winning outfit was chosen, but the feedback here varies in usefulness. In some instances it's told me that one outfit has a better mix of colors or that the fit is better to my body. Sometimes however, I just get a nebulous "This outfit looks a little better on you." More specifics please, Amazon.

Amazon Echo Look review

I tried to trick it with two similar striped T-shirts, but to the Look's credit it recognised the difference and recommended one over the other. When I tried to trick it again by taking two pics of the same outfit, it told me to try again with something new.

If you're feeling really brave, you can go a step further and submit your comparison for the Amazon community to scrutinise. This takes you through the Amazon app (the main one, not the Look app) to Amazon Spark, the company's still-slighty-confusing social media platform. You'll be able to publish a poll and have other Spark users vote for their favorite. Again, if you're brave enough.

Amazon Echo Look review

The second way the Look works to boost your style is with Amazon's pairing ideas. This is where it suggests other bits of clothing that match the style of a saved outfit and – yep, you guessed it – pushes you to Amazon to buy them.

I'll give Amazon credit here for its suggestion work here, which feels a little more shrewd than simply, "You're wearing blue so here are some more blue clothes to buy." It's also not something that's pushed on you; you'll only get these suggestions by going into the 'Details' section of each outfit and scrolling to the bottom.

Amazon Echo Look: Smart home control and more

As I've said, the Echo Look is still an Echo that can respond to your queries, control your smart appliances and play music. Actually, scrap that last one: the speaker on the Echo Look is really awful. It's fine for hearing Alexa out of, but this is not built for quality sound. It's also not designed to be used as a home security cam, in case you were getting any ideas.

But in the moments you're not seeking fashion advice, the Echo Look is another Alexa speaker for your home. However, you may have some concerns about that camera with regards to your privacy, which is totally warranted. Firstly, there's a button on the side of the Look which disables both the camera and the microphone. When you see a red ring of light where Alexa usually lights up blue, that means they're off.

But sadly, as is often the case with these things, it's impossible to be 100% certain you're safe allowing a company to stick a camera in your home. The camera on the Look can be viewed at any time through the smartphone app – however you'll need to be on the same network in order to do that, so there should be no risk of anyone "hacking in" this way. The rest comes down to how much you trust Amazon.

Amazon Echo Look
The Look is the most niche Echo we've seen yet. Taken at face value it might also seem an odd product from Amazon, but as soon as you understand the symbiosis with Amazon's storefront, it makes plenty of sense. But Amazon does this without being too intrusive, while the Style Check feature is surprisingly good. The Look has a lot of value for some people, but we can't see that demographic being significant.
  • Good camera
  • Accurate recommendations
  • Helpful catalogue system
  • Audience feels niche
  • Limited features
  • Poor speaker

TAGGED    amazon alexa    smart speakers

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