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A fun little smart lamp for all ages

Smart lighting comes in many different forms, and with an extensive lineup of other smart home products, it’s not surprising that Amazon would join the fray. It is unusual, though, for a company to spearhead things with a lamp aimed primarily at kids. Find out how it turned out in Android Authority‘s Amazon Echo Glow review.

What you need to know about the Amazon Echo Glow

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

 

The Echo Glow is a color-changing, Alexa-integrated smart lamp that Amazon sells both solo and in bundles with kid-oriented Echo speakers, like a panda-painted Echo Dot. Despite the upsell it can be controlled with any Alexa-enabled speaker — I was even able to test it with an Ecobee thermostat. However, the Echo Glow itself does not have a mic for Alexa commands, or a speaker.

Setup requires a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network and the Alexa mobile app, but due to its kid-friendly nature, the core light functionality is kept to simple on-device controls. There’s a power button on the back, and tapping the dome will cycle through preset colors. Kids don’t need a phone or speaker of their own.

The product does need Alexa voice or app commands to access every feature, however. That’s how you trigger special effects like Campfire, Siren, and Firetruck, as well as holiday themes like Christmas, Hanukkah, and Valentine’s Day. Another option is the Rainbow Timer, which cycles through colors for a set amount of time. You can also ask for a “dance party” to set off both lights and music.

Related: The best smart lamps you can buy right now

Peak brightness is rated at 100 lumens, which is much lower than the 800 of a standard Philips Hue or Lifx Mini bulb. The lamp is really meant to complement existing lighting, though naturally, you could scatter several Glows around a room.

As with all Alexa-compatible lights the Glow can be used in automated routines, created with the Alexa app and triggered by things like voice commands, room sensors, or the time of day, including optional delays around sunrise and sunset. Configurable reactions include power, color, effects, and brightness settings, as well as the ability to ramp brightness over a set duration. Unique to the Glow is the ability to specify whether or not tap commands are allowed when a routine runs. You might for example create a “Wake Up” routine that gradually brightens the lamp until it’s time to get out of bed, but disables taps so your child won’t get distracted.

You can buy the Amazon Echo Glow from Amazon.com (of course), as well as many big-box retailers. Notably, the Echo Glow is not widely available outside of the US, with European buyers missing out on its glowy charms.

What’s good?

The Echo Glow surrounded by Christmas decorations.

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

The lamp’s design manages to be neutral yet aesthetically pleasing, something that would work as well in a luxury apartment as a kid’s room. It helps that the product is mostly bulb — light shines out in almost every direction, so its appeal is really a question of which colors and effects you use.

It also lives up to its kid-friendly claims. I put it in my three-year-old’s bedroom and found that he intuitively understood its physical controls, even if he couldn’t grasp its Alexa commands just yet. He had a great deal of fun tapping on the Glow and moving it around, too, so it’s a good thing it’s made of rugged plastic to protect against inevitable accidents. The product is a little larger and heavier than a softball ergonomically, most kids should have no trouble with it.

The lamp’s design manages to be neutral yet aesthetically pleasing, something that would work as well in a luxury apartment as a kid’s room.

Its automation support can be a boon for parents, although the extent may depend on your child. In the case of my three-year-old test subject I found it best used as a nightlight, having it turn on full-power shortly before sunset, but then ramp low in the hour after bedtime with tap controls off.

The Rainbow Timer should be useful for parents with older kids, for instance when teaching them how long to brush their teeth, or giving them a time limit when getting ready for bed. Other Alexa-triggered effects like Campfire or Christmas are purely ornamental, though I can imagine entertaining early grade school kids with the dance party option.

What’s not so good?

Configuring routines in the Alexa app can, occasionally, be needlessly complicated. The availability of options like brightness ramping is based on other things you’ve toggled, but the cause and effect aren’t always obvious. Whenever this became a problem I was able to work around it by removing a routine’s actions, then experimenting a little when re-adding them. Ultimately you should be able to program anything the lamp is capable of without awkward workarounds.

The presence of a power button can become a downside for those with preschoolers. Children that young will likely turn off the Glow whenever they feel like it, which interrupts ongoing routines. Worse, if they hold down the button long enough, the lamp can enter setup mode. The obvious solution is to place the Glow out of reach, but that of course makes the tap controls pointless. Power control should probably be moved to a remote if Amazon is serious about helping parents.

Configuring routines in the Alexa app can, occasionally, be needlessly complicated.

The 100-lumen brightness cap helps keep the product’s price down but hurts utility. The lamp is weak enough that, even at max power, it might still work best as a nightlight. While it is meant to be an additive light instead of a primary one, its reach is limited even within that context.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Glow won’t work with other smart home platforms like Google Home or Apple HomeKit. That’s to be expected, but if you have a multi-platform household, it might frustrate people that they can’t control the lamp from some devices or integrate it into Assistant or HomeKit automations.

Amazon Echo Glow review: Should I buy it?

An Echo Glow on a toy piano.

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

I’ve found myself surprisingly happy with the Echo Glow lamp. It’s added a dash of light and color to my son’s room that I never realized was missing, and he seems to appreciate it too. It would be nice if it had a built-in Alexa speaker, but for $30, I’ll take it as-is. There really aren’t any similarly capable smart lamps at this price point, though if you’re willing to spend quite a bit more, you can get the Philips Hue Bloom ($69). That product is both brighter and compatible with Alexa, Google Home, and HomeKit, though you’ll have to add a Hue Smart Hub ($59) for full functionality.

Also read: What is a smart home and why should you want one?

The Echo Glow is an easy recommendation so long as you’re aware of its limits. That is, it’s meant for people committed to Alexa as a platform, and who aren’t looking to use it as a primary light source. Within those confines, it does what it’s supposed to quite well.

The Amazon Echo Glow lit up in blue.

Amazon Echo Glow

An Alexa-enabled smart lamp for kids.

The Amazon Echo Glow is an Alexa-controlled smart lamp that’s built for kids, with child-friendly features and a fun design.

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