The Amazon Echo is one of the most interesting and versatile bits of consumer technology to come out in years.
However it is still not easy to buy for folks in Republic of Ireland and unfortunately because of this lack of support, some features either do not work OR just take a bit more time to set up than our buddies in the UK. Update (14/12/17) – Amazon is now directly selling and shipping the Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Plus to Ireland! See all the Amazon Echo devices on Amazon.co.uk here
Never fear though, SmartHomeGuide.ie has got you covered. Here is our full guide on everything you need to know on buying, setting up, and what works when using an Amazon Echo in Ireland. We’ve tried to cover all the most common questions we see but if you have any that aren’t covered below, then please let us know through Twitter or Facebook and we will do our best to steer you right.
Give me a quick run down of what the Echo is? Why should I want one?
We’ve been using the Echo for a good few months now and we have covered out impressions in our long term review of using the Amazon Echo in Ireland but quickly, the Amazon Echo is basically a brilliant Siri-esque stand alone speaker, albeit one which is far better at understanding you. It is a standalone speaker which has a microphone built in and turns on when you say the word Alexa (think of this as the same way that Siri starts listening after you hold down the home button on an iPhone).
The microphone has “far field” listening which I believe ensures that the Echo can hear you from quite far away and/or you are speaking quietly. Not having to touch the device makes it far easier to start giving commands to it rather than say Siri which makes it ideal for asking for basic commands (which we cover below).
What about the Google Home? Does it work better than the Echo in Ireland?
It’s a tough one to answer as there really are some fundamental differences between the two devices. To help answer this we created the below video and asked them both a host of common questions to help you decide. We also cover some other differences between the two, like which one is easier to set up in Ireland etc.
I noticed the Amazon Echo Dot is far cheaper, which model should I get? Are they the same?
Short answer yes. If you’re wondering why the Amazon Echo Dot is about a £100 cheaper then, well this is basically due to the Dot not having a big speaker attached to it. The ordinary Amazon Echo has an array of microphones at the top waiting for your instructions and then underneath, a pretty good speaker to blast out your tunes.
The Echo Dot is effectively the microphone part of the ordinary Echo which has simply had the speaker underneath removed. If you read reviews from the main tech sites they will say that the sound from the Echo Dot is absolutely awful – which is true if you compare it to a decent bluetooth or stereo speaker – however the sound is far better than the speaker on your smartphone and is grand for background music or radio playback.
I’m not going to give a full review of the Echo here – although we will post one in the reviews section in a later date (update here is that review) – but the reason I bring all this up is that one of the best commands you can give to the Echo and one which isn’t covered as well (yet) by Siri is giving it commands to interact with your smart home tech. Once you have your smart home products set up it really is easy to simply say “Alexa, turn on my living room light” and voila. It is on.
This is impressive, which is why the Echo has been a run away hit for Amazon as suddenly there is a really easy way to interact with your smart home.
Is there a release date for Amazon Echo in Ireland?
The problem at time of writing this (2016) for Irish readers is that Amazon isn’t shipping it to Eire . The Echo took over a year to make it from the UK to America which Amazon claimed was the amount of time it took to configure Alexa to understand all the different English dialects.
Most well selling products released in the UK quickly find their way over to Ireland, but in this case we might be waiting a while. Now that Google Home (Google’s Echo competitor) has been released stateside, there is a possibility that Amazon will try to leverage their first mover advantage and take worldwide market share by expanding to a lot of countries quickly. For now though we have listed all your purchasing options below…
So if Amazon.co.uk isn’t shipping to Ireland, than how do I get my hands on one?
As we said in our post on how to ship products to Ireland, at the moment you have three main options:
- Overpay and get it from Littlewoods or eBay.
To be fair to Littlewoods I just checked their site and it looks like they have a Christmas sale on, so the larger full sized Echo speaker is only €180 right now, but be warned that it usually is €209. The standard Amazon listed price is £150 (€178), although right now for Xmas it is £129, so do check both at time of purchase to compare them. eBay could have them at any price and I’m sure most people know of the positives and negatives of using their site by now.
- Get someone to pick you one up when they are stateside or in the UK
If your buddy isn’t already too laden down with requests for fags and drink, then stateside is probably going to be the best option. It will probably be cheaper (depending on the sales tax in the state your acquaintance is visiting and the exchange rate at the time) as well as the easiest option as it is possible to pick one up from high street retailers like Best buy.
- Set up a postal redirect service from Northern Ireland
Writing it there, I realise that “postal redirect service” sounds like absolute gobbledy gook but essentially what these services allow you to do is give a Northern Ireland address to Amazon, then once it arrives at that address, they forward it onto another location for you (either a locker service like Parcel Motel or straight to your home like Parcel Wizard). In a nutshell these services work well and are very reasonably priced at only a few euros a pop.
I just want to buy a Echo from Amazon in the UK, and have it shipped to Ireland. What are my choices?
Amazon and a host of other UK eCommerce stores do not ship to Ireland or only ship certain products to Ireland. This is an annoying problem for sure but there are a host of what post services that will get these products into Ireland for you.
How do these postal services work?
When you sign up for the services they give you a Northern Ireland based shipping address to use. So when you are entering your shipping info into an eCommerce site you just use this shipping address instead of your actual address.
So if it is being shipped to another address, how does my parcel end up with me?
So this depends on what service you use. At the moment there are a host of these postage services in Ireland but I will go into detail here on three different services which all ship to different places for you. These will either ship to a locker near you so that you can pick it up at up at a time and place that suits you (Parcel Motel), or they will ship to your home address (Parcel Wizard) or send it to your nearest Post office to collect from (Address Pal).
If you decide to use Parcel Wizard, you enter in your actual address when you sign up to the service. Then when you use the new UK based shipping address they give you they will know where to forward it to.
How much do these services cost? How much will the total cost be to buy an Amazon Echo in Ireland?
At the moment (Jan 2017) here are the prices per package (the services are free to sign up to) and associated pages where you can find more details:
Address Pal – €3.50
Parcel Wizard – €3.85
Parcel Motel – €3.95
Which is the best service?
All three ship to different places so it really does depend on what is handiest for you. I’m sure there are more options out there too so it is worth doing a quick Google to see if there are any new services which might be up and running by the time you read this.
In my experience Parcel Wizard is great, they also let you select a day and time slot that suits you (so you can easily select a time when you know someone will be home).They also notify you when your package arrives at the depot, when it is leaving the depot and of course when your package is delivered to your home address.
Once I get my Echo, how do I set it up? Is it any harder to do in Ireland than the UK?
Nope it’s not any harder. You can set it up using the alexa.amazon.co.uk website. The site works fine on mobile too. If you do use the mobile site you will get a prompt to download the app too.
How can I download the Alexa app on iOS in Ireland?
Update – this is now available in the iOS app store so just go there.
On iOS you will have to change your app store to the UK one in order to download the Alexa (Amazon Echo) app. If I recall correctly, the steps to do this are:
- Google “Alexa app iOS”
- Click on the app store link
- When you click on the link it will open the app store and a pop-up will notify you that you have to change app store location.
- There will be a button on the pop-up that says “change app store location” once you click this the app store page will open
- You can download the app from this page like normal
After you do this and the Alexa app downloads there is no impact on your other apps and you wont have to change the app store location back or anything like that.
Can I download the Alexa Android app in Ireland?
Update – this is now available in the Google Play Store so just go there instead of doing the below
Yes but you will have to venture into the settings, having said this it is very simple to do. Simply:
- Open settings and go into security
- Find the setting “allow non app store downloads” or equivalent
- Click the button to allow these downloads
- Google “amazon alexa apk” there are a number of sites on which you will find it
- Once you find one, click on it and the app will download to your phone
- Once it is downloaded you will see it in your notifications tray, when you click to open it the app will download just like an app from the Google Play Store
Best set up for the Amazon Echo in the Alexa app in Ireland
Once you’ve downloaded the app, here are the first settings we recommend updating/changing in order to get the most out of the app in Ireland:
When readers have asked us in the past what the best set-up for Amazon Echo in Ireland is, we find that there have been two meanings to this question, most want to know how to set up the Alexa app and the basic settings to get it working right. However some want to know what the best “full” set-up is, meaning what Echo compatible smart home products they should buy to get the most use out of the speaker.
We will try to cover the first of these questions in the below steps, but as always give us a bell in the comments or on Twitter if you’ve a specific question thats not covered!
First of all download the Alexa app from the iOS app store or the Google Play Store. Once you’ve done this you’ll have to enter in your Amazon account details and click on the “connect to Echo” button to link the app to your Echo (you’ll need to plug in the Echo first), either way the Alexa app will guide you through the first basic set up steps and its very easy to follow.
Once you’ve done that then click on the button with the three little lines (fancy computer folk call it a hamburger menu), or swipe right from the left edge of your phone. This will bring up the below menu. From there click on settings.
The first thing you will see is “Mary’s Echo” (or whatever you called your Echo speaker in the initial set up), click on this. Scroll down about half way and you should see a group of settings called “general settings”.
Changing your Alexa app location to Ireland
As you can see from this screenshot, here is where you enter in your address. You’ll want to enter in your exact location just in case you start buying things from Amazon in the future or apps like Just Eat get supported here. If you’re a bit privacy conscious and you don’t want to do this then we recommend at the very least entering the right town you’re in so that your weather forecasts are correct.
Once you’ve done that then you’ll also want to click on the two buttons below, “Device Time Zone” and select your region as Europe and GMT as your time zone.
Also when you’re entering the region you might notice that there is no United Kingdom region, just Europe… sly dig at Brexiters from Amazon? 😉
Updating distance and temperature units to metric
After updating your location and address, keep scrolling down and you will see the below settings:
From here you really just want to make sure that the both units are switched to metric so when you ask for directions or for weather that you can make sense of the answers she gives you.
Setting up a “do not disturb” schedule
This setting is not as important as the above but it might give you piece of mind. In your house you now have a speaker thats connected to the internet and as such all sorts of things could go wrong with it, from you accidentally setting up a news app to give you an update at 2am or to a hacker setting it off (disclaimer: this is speculation and not a thing I have heard of happening).
Either way you can turn on a do not disturb schedule from this same settings menu, simply scroll back up to the top of this menu and you should see the below screen.
As you can see here you can tell Alexa to mute the speaker from disturbing you during the night. If you have a significant other who is sceptical about having an internet connected speaker in the house in the first place, then having it blare music at 3am could end with up with the Echo in the bin before long… better safe than sorry here in our view.
Setting up your calendar, news and music accounts
Once you’ve done the above simply hit back (or just click on the settings menu again) and you should see the below screen.
From here you can add in all the other internet services you use. For the calendar you can click on calendar and enter in your gmail address if you use Google Calendar.
For music you can enter in your Spotify login or Amazon music details if you use these services. When you enter in your details you will see that there is a button at the bottom that says “make this the default music service”, you should click on this and choose the main music service you use. Doing this will then allow you to say “Alexa, play The Beatles” and it will automatically play from that service. This saves you from saying “Alexa, play The Beatles from Spotify” etc.
On the “Flash briefing” menu, this is basically what Alexa calls its news services. When you click on this you should see the below menu:
As you can see RTE has a great news app, and there are plenty of news sources for Sports, Tech, World news or whatever you’re into. The order they are in above is the order they will play in so make sure to have them in the order you would like to hear them in.
Thats it for our main setting recommendations and will get you off to a good start using your Echo in Ireland. After this we recommend going into the “skills” section, which is effectively Alexa’s app store and seeing what Alexa apps take your fancy.
Does the Amazon Echo work in Ireland? What features currently work?
It works really well, however some features are not as easy to set up and get running in Ireland as they would be if you were living in the UK or the States. Here are the features that I’ve found to work and a quick summary of how you use that feature. Note that this will be updated as new features become available.
Music / Spotify:
Spotify is really easy to set up. I can’t speak for other music players like Amazon Music (though you would hope it works well). You will need to open you Amazon Alexa app and go to the “skills” section. From here it is like any other app store and you will have to search for Spotify. Once you download the skill you can use the following commands straight away:
- “Alexa, Play The Beatles”
- “Alexa, Play Discover Weekly” – Note that this is a Spotify created playlist and this command doesn’t seem to work for Playlists that you create yourself.
- “Alexa, Play 80’s Tunes”
Alot of people say that they need to end the command with “on Spotify” in order for these to work. This hasn’t been my experience and the above commands do work for me. I believe this is because I have set up Spotify in the settings on the Alexa app as my default music player (the default music player is Amazon Music). Note that I am also using Spotify Premium and haven’t tried to set it up with the free version of Spotify.
Asking Alexa for the Weather:
Out of the box you can use this command:
- “Alexa, what is the weather in Dublin, Ireland?”
I know… I know… having to say add in “in Dublin” is nowhere near as cool as just saying “what’s the weather”. If you do just ask for the weather it gives you the weather for some town in Japan. I have heard rumours that people are able to change their Amazon account default location to America, then log out of your Alexa app, log back in and re-enter your location as Dublin (or wherever). I am sure for some this will be worth it but for me saying “in Dublin, Ireland” isn’t too much bother.
Using Amazon Echo as a Radio Station:
TuneIn works well, but it does depend on which radio stations you are trying to listen to. Unlike Spotify I can’t get it to work without saying “on TuneIn”. Note that one of the commands I specify below uses a particular radio stations name, but when I say an Irish radio stations name it does not seem to work ever. It also plays radio 1 still when I ask for Radio 2. Commands that work for radio
- “Alexa, play BBC Radio 1 on TuneIn”
- “Alexa, play Radio 1 on TuneIn”
(Feb 17 update – RTE has now released a skill for the Amazon Echo which will read out the news highlights for you. Read more here)
Using Amazon Echo as a Home Automation Hub:
Apart from Spotify, you’ll be pleased to know that Home Automation is one of the features that works just as well as if you were in the states or UK. All the big names work just as well as they are supposed to, including:
- Wemo products (like their great Smart Plug)
- Philips Hue Lightbulbs
- TP-Link Plugs
- Nest Thermostats
- Samsung Smartthings
- Hive Products
- Many many more
Look out for reviews of these separate products coming up on Smart Home Guide soon. In the meantime if there is anything we haven’t covered that you would like to know more about, let us know on Twitter or Facebook. Also check back on this article as we’ll update it as new products, workarounds etc are released.
So now you have all the info on how to get your Echo set up what are you waiting for? To make it easy for you, here are links all the Echos on Amazons UK site:
Found this article handy? Well we’re skint, shout us a pint?