Rating: 2 out of 6 stars
The Echo Wall Clock is designed to be a companion device to Amazon’s Echo, more specifically as an extension to Echo’s clock and timer functionality. It costs £29.99 UK or $29.99 USA.
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This wall clock has three functions. One is to display the time with its analogue clock, the second is to display your active Echo timers with it’s LED display and the third is to pulsate for current sounding Echo alarms and reminders. You cannot summon your Amazon Echo through the Wall Clock, it is strictly a companion device, to provide a simple visual display of time and timers.
A look at the product
The Echo Wall Clock features a simple analogue clock with two hands (hour and minute hands) for showing time, which automatically syncs with a paired Echo device, so there is no need to manually set it or adjust for daylight savings. Running along the edge of the clock face is a digital display, consisting of 60 separate LEDs with cutout lines, symbolising seconds marked on a clock face. This display is used to show all active timers, plus it will pulsate for active sounding alarms and reminders. The Wall Clock does not appear to have a built-in speaker or mic, so you will need an Echo to be in ear shot. It also features a status light just below the face’s center, which will emit a small range of colors including pulsating patterns, each indicating the device’s current state.
The Echo Wall Clock dimensions are 25.4 x 25.4 x 4.1 cm (10 x 10 x 1.6 inches) with a weight of 380 grams according to Amazon. It is powered by four AA batteries inserted in the back behind a panel, which are included. The Wall Clock works over Bluetooth using Bluetooth version 4.2 to connect to a nearby Echo device, with a recommended range of up to 9.1 metres. As the product’s name suggests, the clock is designed to be mounted on a wall. It uses a traditional cut out keyhole on it’s back, to hang it on something like a screw. Amazon provides a plasterboard screw and plasterboard anchor in the box to mount the clock on a wall.
It is compatible with pretty much all of Amazon’s Echo devices, including first generation Echo devices. Just make sure you check before purchasing. Currently, at the time of writing this, it is not compatible with Fire TV, Fire Tablets, Echo Dot Kids Edition or Amazon Tap.
Also, don’t forget, you cannot summon your Echo assistant through the clock.
Design and build quality
The Echo Wall Clock’s design and build quality is certainly something to think about. Amazon has clearly gone for a simple minimalist design. Yet, I personally feel their approach and execution is bad and a failure.
The Wall Clock looks cheap in not only design but also quality. Nothing but a hollow plastic shell. If you flip the clock to reveal the back, the effect is even worse, making the product look more cheap and nasty – definitely not a luxury item.
Further to this point, common sense is clearly lacking, as the clock does not even have a glass or perspex cover over the face. This matters a lot, as any physical contact with the clock hands, could result in easy damage or potentially knock the clock’s time out. Not to mention the fact of dust build up on the clocks face, which would be risky to clean off with a duster.
To finish this point, the clock hands are clearly prone to damage easily. It is not at all encouraging that Amazon prominently warns of hands falling off or being easy to damage. On top of this, many appear to have reported it breaking easily. In the Quick Start Guide under troubleshooting, Amazon does state quite openly that if the hands come off or if the clock displays the incorrect time, you may need to perform a factory reset to realign or fix the clock hands. This really does further put the clock’s build quality into question, which is not great in the first place.
The Amazon Wall Clock is a serious drop in quality, especially when compared to its parent Echo devices, which look much better on overall quality and design.
Echo Wall Clock’s LED timer display – Explained
Designed with speed in mind to be looked at with a glance, this simple display of 60 LED lights running around the outer edge, displays your Echo timers. Each cut-out slot, symbolising seconds marked on a clock (60 LEDs = 60 seconds in a minute), is capable of displaying not just one, but multiple Echo timers.
One timer set
When one timer is set it will make full use of the clock’s digital display. A one minute timer will use all 60 LEDs, counting down one by one, by switching each light off as it goes. Whilst a 10 minute timer will illuminate 10 LEDs, counting down minute by minute, until it reaches 60 seconds, switching to counting down each second.
When a timer goes off, all LEDs will light up and pulsate in unison with your Echo’s sound indication.
Multiple timers set
When multiple timers are set, things get a bit more interesting. If you set a 40 minute timer you will have 40 LEDs light up, each indicating a minute. But then if you set a 10 minute timer all LEDs up to 10 minutes will switch off, leaving one light indicating the 40 minute timer.
Basically, the Wall Clock prioritizes the timer with the least amount of time for how many LEDs it should display. The additional LEDs on the shortest timer are clearly there to prioritize, as the shortest timer is the most important to be aware of.
Then, when a timer gets to 60 seconds, all LEDs light up for that timer and start counting down, like one giant warning. Smart thinking!
How to distinguish between multiple timers
But wait. If all LEDs for the shortest timer suddenly overlap other timers which have one LED, how do you distinguish between overlapping timers?
Since the overlapping effect doesn’t last for long and serves as a warning, it shouldn’t matter much. But there is a way to distinguish.
To do this, it appears the LEDs are capable of different brightness levels. Each active timer’s current position is indicated by a brighter light output, compared to LEDs which are lit to indicate the remaining on the shortest timer, displayed at a lower brightness. So, when a 60 second timer overlaps other timers with more time, you will see the active state of each timer at a brighter level, including the very timer with the least amount of time, counting down on the trailing current second.
Although this is a smart idea, it does unfortunately look as though it can be difficult to see in actual usage, not to mention potentially confusing. Perhaps different colored LEDs would have been a better choice to distinguish between what’s going on?
Other than a timer, the Wall Clock appears to also notify you of current alarms and reminders going off, by pulsating all LEDs.
Check out the video below to see a demonstration of the Echo Wall Clock.
The product video is also available on Amazon.com’s product page
You can also check out this video review by Lon Seidman on YouTube, for a better look at the Echo Wall Clock.
For something which is intended to be an expansion to a futuristic smart home system, this clock certainly is old fashioned. However, this comment is not intended to be a criticism, as old fashioned and simple can be a good thing, especially for something as basic as displaying time and timers.
If anything though, one criticism would be that this old fashioned clock design, clearly designed from a modern techie perspective, has clearly tried to reinvent a wall clock. In this particular case of course it is to an extent necessary, due to the timer display functionality. However, when it comes to basic common sense to put a glass or perspex pane over the front of the clock, to protect the clock hands for a number of different reasons, which are not meant to be touched, well, common sense is certainly lacking.
What they should have done is covered the face with a glass or perspex pane and added a hand adjustor on the back. So if you needed to perform a reset on the analogue clock, you would not have to touch the fragile clock hands. Thus, adding protection and making it easier to clean. I suspect they did not do this because of cost, based on their targeted price point. This would also explain the cheap quality of the clock. If anything the price is higher than it should be because of the electronics.
Overall though, the idea to expand the Amazon Echo smart home system with a wall clock was a good idea. But I really think they failed with their approach. This wall clock just looks cheap, poorly built and therefore not worth the cost. Certainly not a luxury product. I’ve seen old run down wall clock’s when I was at school that looked better and sturdier than this.
Perhaps Amazon should consider working with quality timepiece companies such as Casio, Seiko or Citizen to produce some clock’s. In all seriousness though, that wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Also on another note, just a quick rant. What happened with their marketing. I’m not talking about social media or advertising, but on their own multiple Amazon YouTube channels. Not a single proper demonstration video, like the one on Amazon’s store page for the clock?