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Amazon recently unveiled its first Echo device with a built-in camera called the Echo Look. It’s wasn’t geared toward home security. It wasn’t focused on video communication. Instead, it surprised many pundits by being focused on fashion.

The Look lets people take full-length photos of their outfits by simply saying, “Alexa, take a picture”. It can also take a short video as you twirl around to show your outfit from every angle.

Echo Look

Location

The device itself is a bit smaller than it looks in pictures. It is 6.3” tall and 2.4” wide. Although, it is somewhat small, part of setting up the Look is finding the right location for it. Amazon says you should place the device at shoulder height, stand 5 feet away, and not be in bright light. There is even more to it than that. Just finding a spot to get it at shoulder height was difficult. Most furniture is either too high or too low. Mine wound up on a bookshelf. Although the background is blurred, you won’t want to use a messy room which leaves out many rooms in my home. You need to stay away from windows. Also, if you have a glass cabinet or mirror in the background you will see the flash in the picture.

Set up

Although the setup of my other Echo devices was easy, this one was problematic. After installing the Echo Look app and following the simple instructions to get the unit on my network, my Look said she was ready, but the app said I needed to redo the setup. After several tries with the same results, I simply ignored the errors shown in the app and asked Look to take a picture. Low and behold. It worked.

The Look sits on a swivel base and is completely adjustable. It also comes with a 7 ½’ cable. Those two things are good. You can place it almost anywhere and adjust the device to get the best picture. The bad part is that the connection is at the top of the device. This makes it top-heavy and also makes the swivel move. As you can see from the picture below, at one point I had to put the cable between several books to stabilize it.

Echo Look

The Look comes with a wall mount kit, which Certainly would help to stabilize it.

The Camera

The look uses a 5MP camera with depth-sensing technology and LED lights to focus on the person. The picture appears almost instantly in the app. Tap on the POP icon on the screen and you and the outfit pop while the background is blurred. The screen shot below shows what a great job the Look does.

Echo Look

This absolutely the best feature of the Look. Once you have it in the right location, the Look takes great pictures of your outfit. Videos are also excellent, although you cannon blur the background in a video.

The Software – Style Check

After you take a picture of an outfit you like, you can make a change. Perhaps, you want to try a different top. Just take a picture with that top, choose the two pictures you want to compare and tap on Style Check. The Amazon software will tell you which outfit is better.

Echo Look

Fit, color, styling and current trends determine the opinion. Style check even noticed when I added a necklace to my outfit.

Given that the software is so new, I expect that it will get better. In fact, Amazon says that over time these second opinions will get smarter thanks to users’ feedback and input from Amazon’s fashion specialists. I would love to have it smart enough to tell me that one of the outfits looked better because it made me look slimmer. I do expect that the Look may one day be able to do that and may even be able to recommend and sell clothes and accessories to use with your current outfits.

Picture Storage & Security

The Amazon cloud stores all photos and videos. This storage is free for 3 years for Look pictures and videos. Cost after that time has not yet been stipulated.  This Picture Storage also brings up more security issues than the regular Amazon Echo. The Look device is taking pictures of background objects in your home and storing them. Amazon is also storing photos of your clothing. Surely they will use that information to build a database of your likes and dislikes in order to sell you more clothes, but they could also use it for more clandestine purposes.

The Look has a large button on the side that turns the microphone and camera off. So you don’t have to be afraid that it is constantly taking pictures or video. However, that button also turns off the microphone which make the Look incapable of acting like an ordinary Echo.

Echo Look

Other Capabilities

The Echo Look has all the capabilities of the Amazon Echo. It can, of course, tell jokes, answer questions, read books, order pizza, and perform other Echo tasks. However the Look’s speakers are not very good for playing music. With the speaker on the back, she can be difficult to hear. This might be even more problematic if you use the included wall mount. You cannot add a speaker as you can with the Echo Dot. In fact, the Look has no Bluetooth capabilities at all. You can ask the Look to be louder or softer, but there is no physical volume control as there is on other Echos.

Echo Look

Why Amazon Fashion

The fashion Industry is big business. Amazon has invested millions in fashion retailers like Zappos. As an online apparel retailer Amazon has overtaken Macy’s and is now the largest. They are now making their own-label clothing and have started online clothing and beauty information like Style Code Live.

Sharing

Of course, Amazon makes it easy to compare looks and share your best fashion pictures with friends.

Summary

The Look takes wonderful pictures. If you are a fashionista you will love the pics. Even if you are an ordinary person who struggles with what to wear, the Look performs an admirable function. It can keep a beneficial picture book of every outfit you wear. Although I don’t consider myself a fashionista, I love the idea of going in the closet and putting outfits that look good and then documenting them.

At $200, the Look is more expensive than the standard Echo. Although, it takes great fashion pictures, right now the Look has some drawbacks for use as an Echo. Yet, if you are into fashion and selfies, it is certainly a useful and unique product. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon add additional capabilities in the future.

Note: The Echo Look is currently available “by invitation” only.

Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up's Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.