Alexa

Buy a Home Automation Hub from a Dedicated Company

If you're going to buy a hub for home automation, Leo recommends purchasing from a tech company that's dedicated to IoT. Samsung SmartThings is a good, safe choice, and they use the Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols. Apple is making it difficult for companies to support Homekit, and Google has its own items that they may pull the plug on anytime. Unfortunately, a company like Lowe's just isn't big enough to support the breadth of the internet-of-things, which is why their IRIS service is being discontinued.

Can I use Echo to turn on my lights?

Amazon Echo

Episode 1565

Henry from Prescott Valley, AZ

Henry has a few Amazon Echos and wants to know if he can turn his lights on/off with them. Leo says absolutely, but he'll need smart home lights that support the Echo. Philips Hue is one brand. But there are plenty of others out there. He can also get smart switches that enable him to turn things off with his voice. He should search Amazon for "works with Alexa" devices.

Why do ads use the 'Alexa' trigger word?

Amazon Echo

Episode 1502

Mark from Myrtle Beach, SC

Mark wants to know why broadcast ads will use the 'Alexa' trigger word that could hijack his Echo device. Leo says that in Amazon's commercials, they actually use an inaudible sound behind the trigger word that prevents the device from taking action on it, but it may be that other advertisers don't know about this. Leo says it may even be against Amazon's rules to use trigger words in flash briefings.

What do you think of the Amazon Fire TV Cube?

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Episode 1500

GJ from Snohomish, WA

Leo says the Echo powered Fire TV Cube is cool because all he'd have to do is tell it to watch the show he wants, and it turns on the TV, switches to the right input, and starts the show. Then when he leaves, he can just say "TV off" and everything will turn off, which is nice. GJ noticed it talks about an ARC port with HDMI. Leo says it would like to get CEC and the Audio Return Channel, but it's not required.

GJ also noticed that YouTube Red changed to YouTube Premium. Leo says it's still the same thing, where he would pay a fee for no ads and access to Google's music offering.

Why can't Amazon Echo talk to my Fire Stick?

Amazon Echo

Episode 1365

Cynthia from Burbank, CA

Cynthia wants to control her Amazon Fire Stick with Amazon Alexa, but she can't. Shouldn't it work together? Leo says not necessarily. At least not yet. Alexa is getting smarter all the time, though.

Cynthia can talk to the Fire remote, so she doesn't really need the Echo for that. Since she paid over $180 for it, Leo recommends returning it and get the $50 Echo Dot instead.