Tech Upgrades from Amazon to help working from home
With working from home being the new working in the office, we thought it might be time to do a piece on how some simple tech upgrades can help out. Thanks to the lovely people at Amazon we received a package that they thought could help us improve our working from home setup.
The packaged had a number of devices in there and it included a Ring Doorbell 3 Plus, various Amazon Echo devices, Fire TV Sticks and Hue Light Bulbs. How might these help working from home? Well, let me tell you. Obviously, we had to get the various devices setup and installed.
The Ring Doorbell 3 Plus was the one device that required a bit of commitment to where you were going to place it. It’s one of the battery powered Ring doorbells, so positioning it is easy enough (and the new Doorbell 3 Plus even has a pre-roll feature, which is pretty unique for battery powered doorbells). After we had done the initial doorbell setup, we took to drilling the wall and mounting at the front door.
From there, the new Echo devices were added around the house (you can see our review of the new Echo and Echo Dot here). We added an Echo Show 8 to the sitting room and it works great. We already had an Echo show in our kitchen so having the smaller Show 8 in the sitting room was a nice addition, not only to help working from home, but it’s also somewhat of a virtual picture frame. It’s nice to see photos our the family on there when working and keeping an eye on the time and new photos can be added really easily through the Amazon Photos app.
Next we installed the Philips Hue light bulbs. We added to the rooms we were mainly working in. The hue bulbs are great for working from home. You can change the brightness level and the colour whenever you want using your voice through any Echo device. Personally, I like to keep within the white ranges, so a more cool white when working during the day and a warmer white in the evening. You can set up routines so this happens automatically and I’ve been using it to signify the end of the work day so I know there’s a clear divide between work life and home life, just by the colour temperature of the bulb, which is nice.
Finally, we set up the Fire TV Sticks. There are a couple of variants of the Fire TV Stick, the 4k version and the newly announced Lite version. Both function pretty much the same, with the 4k one able to handle 4k, Dolby Vision and Atmos content. So you’re getting top of the line picture quality from apps that support it. The Fire TV Sticks are great media consumption devices and support all the major streaming apps you might use (Netflix, Disney+, Youtube, etc…), but they also integrate amazingly into the Amazon ecosystem. If you have an older or non-smart TV, the Fire TV Stick are a great, affordable way, to upgrade them and give you a slick user interface for those lockdown binge watching sessions.
So how can all these devices help you work better from home. Apart from the light changing tone as my work day ends, all the devices also work together. For example, I kept missing the doorbell when I had my headphones on for meetings or to concentrate with work, so what I did to help this now is when someone rings the doorbell, the lights flash on and off (or you can have the change to any colour you like), and the Echo’s in the house announce there’s someone at the door. Even the Fire TV Stick changes to the Doorbell to show me on the TV who’s there. The same thing happens to any Echo devices with screens, like the echo show 8. It’s been great, I’ve not missed a single delivery since we’ve done it.
I’ve also synced my calendar with the echo devices, so I can see my upcoming meetings much easier. It’s nice to be able to glance at the time on the Echo shows and see what’s next. I also use the timer function of the regular Echos to set reminders when I’m meant to be back off lunch and during meetings so there is a clear indication of when the meeting needs to end.
As you can see, upgrading the house has not only helped when working from home, but it’s also been great given we’re at home all the time during lockdown. We use the Echo timers all the time to help manage our kids’ snacks and bed times. If she is asking for a snack, we pop a timer on the Echo and when it goes off we can do snack time. Same thing coming up to bed time, we set a bedtime timer, that way she knows the window of time left to play or watch TV before it’s time for bed. We’ve also been using them as intercoms around the house. Now our house is by no means big and if you shout you can be heard everywhere, but it’s much nice to ask Alexa to announce dinner is ready and all the Echo devices announce it through the house. It’s also really good if you’re out doing the shopping and you can’t get through to your other half. In the Alexa app, you can make an announcement for the person to call you and wherever they are they’ll hear that.
We’ve also been using them for music all around the house. Setting up various groups (upstairs, downstairs and everywhere), we can just ask Alexa to play music wherever we are, and the music plays. It’s not just the likes of Amazon Music or Spotify, we use it mainly for listening to the radio by just asking Alexa to play the radio station we want to listen to. We’ve probably listened to more radio since last March than we ever have and that’s thanks to having it so easily accessible through the Echo speakers.
Overall, it’s been a great experience upgrading the various aspects of the house to more tech efficient. I feel the technology in the house now works for us and helps us in our day to day lives and makes them that little bit easier to manage.
You can get all the products noted above on www.amazon.co.uk