Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) review: Sounds better than ever

The third generation Amazon Echo Frame was spotted on a stunning woman in blue.

Amazon Echo Frames (3rd generation)

MSRP $195.00

“Echo Frames are thinner, sound better, and come in a variety of options — all with the power of Alexa inside them.”

Pros

  • Good quantity with minimum leakage

  • Good audio quality for an open-ear speaker

  • excellent call quality

  • Access to the Amazon ecosystem

  • Not locked to a specific device

Shortcoming

  • no charging case

  • Expensive compared to earbuds

The race to put computers on our faces is on. Along with the third-generation Echo Frames, Amazon has recently updated its smart glasses with several improvements. There’s still no display, but if you’re in the market for a wearable that includes a full-featured digital assistant and a mobile app for smart home control, the Amazon ecosystem makes this product an imperative to consider. reason.

Because Echo Frames are worn on the face like any other pair of smart glasses, there are special considerations like appearance, comfort, battery life, and durability. My stereo speakers can be safely placed on a shelf or nightstand with almost perfect protection, but smart glasses have to face the challenges of portable devices.

We tested Amazon’s latest Echo Frames to find out how much they’ve improved, and whether there’s enough value to make these audio smart glasses a good buy.

eco frames design

The Amazon Echo Frames are water resistant so a little rain or snowfall is fine.
The Amazon Echo Frames are water resistant so a little rain or snowfall is fine. Photo by Tracy Trulli/

Amazon reduced the thickness of the earpieces by 15% in the latest version of Echo Frames, making them even closer to normal glasses in appearance. They’re close, but still pretty rough. With five frame and three lens options for each, there are plenty of choices in size and style.

I tested prescription-ready (clear) lenses in black rectangular frames. The gray version has black earpieces for a two-tone design. You can also choose frames that are square and black, blue and round, or brown and cat-eye.

The Amazon Echo Frames look good, and it would be hard for anyone to tell I’m wearing smart glasses unless they look closely at the earpieces. Thicker stems will be necessary in the near future to incorporate the electronics needed to make glasses smart.

Each frame is a different size, so check Amazon’s size guide before ordering. The largest glasses of this type are branded as carrera smart glasses, but it includes the same Amazon technology as the Echo Frames. You pay a little more, but sometimes bigger sunglasses are better.

Weight varies, but the Echo Frames I tested felt just like normal glasses. The weight is a little over an ounce (38 grams), and the eartips are adjustable to fine-tune the fit. I can wear these all day without any complaints. My wife, who has small ears, also found them very comfortable.

echo frames audio quality

The Echo Frame plays your favorite holiday tunes on Amazon Music, but you can use other services.
The Echo Frame plays your favorite holiday tunes on Amazon Music, but you can use other services. Photo by Tracy Trulli/

Since the Echo Frames are audio-only smart glasses, good sound quality is essential. Amazon significantly improved the audio in the third-generation wearable, doubling speaker volume, tripling the bass strength and improving microphone clarity.

I found the speaker volume to be best at a little over 50%, so there’s room for some loud noise when my favorite jams are playing. Music sounds crisp and lively. The bass is acceptable for such a small speaker, but good quality earbuds or headphones will still provide the best listening experience.

Despite the open-ear design of the Echo Frames, sound leakage is minimal. This was a problem with older versions of Amazon smart glasses. I had to turn the volume really high so that anyone nearby could hear what song I was playing. The sound controls are similar in quality to the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses, which also limit audio dispersion.

Amazon has also significantly improved the microphone quality in the third-generation Echo Frames. The company claims 10 times better voice recognition. It is useful to interact with the voice assistant Alexa and also helps in calling.

I tested in a room with a small fan and a heat pump that runs constantly in the winter. The noise isn’t excessive, but my Apple Watch indicates it’s 45 decibels. I can speak normally, and that background sound goes away. I swapped with the caller to hear it myself.

Amazon is also aware of privacy concerns with wearables. If I want to be certain that Alexa hasn’t heard me, it’s easy to turn the mic on or off by double-clicking the front-right button. Also, the Echo Frames go to sleep as soon as I turn them on and wake up within about 10 seconds of putting them on.

Echo Frames and Alexa

Alexa offers voice control, but four buttons allow quick, silent adjustments.
Alexa offers voice control, but four buttons allow quick, silent adjustments. Photo by Tracy Trulli/

Another key feature of audio smart glasses is the personal digital assistant. For Amazon, that means Alexa, a well-established, voice-controlled assistant.

Alexa has been helping Amazon customers manage their low-cost Echo speakers, Kindle Fire tablets, and Kindle e-readers for several years. If you know how to use Alexa on a speaker or a Kindle, you’ll feel right at home with the Echo Frames.

I can set timers and alarms, make notes, add items to lists, and ask for local information or general facts. Alexa will take data from various websites to provide answers. It’s not perfect, but Echo Frames provides useful answers more often than Siri on the Apple HomePod.

Echo Frames can read notifications. This can get overwhelming, so Amazon includes a customizable filter—it’s literally called a “VIP filter”—to choose which people and apps you want to hear from. The Alexa app will also handle any firmware updates.

Alexa isn’t as conversational as ChatGPIT, but that should change when Amazon’s AI chatbot starts rolling out. A preview of this capability, “Let’s Chat”, is coming soon.

integration

Echo Frames are as lightweight as regular glasses and comfortable enough to wear all day.
Echo Frames are as lightweight as regular glasses and comfortable enough to wear all day. Photo by Tracy Trulli/

Amazon has a strong ecosystem that I can access with the Echo Frames. You don’t have to be a Prime member to take advantage of Kindle eBooks, Amazon Music, and Amazon Shopping.

There is a ton of free content available to listen to. I asked Alexa to read me a book from my Kindle library and I was happy with the voice quality, even though it lacked the feeling of a human reader.

For Amazon Music, I can choose specific songs from my library. Even if you don’t subscribe to this service, you can request 1980s classic rock, dubstep, electric blues, or any other genre and hear free radio playback of that type of songs.

The Echo Frames cleverly put Alexa right in your ears.

Echo Frames also allow controlling any smart device with Alexa compatibility. I tested it with a smart light to change its color and brightness, as well as turn it on and off. If you use smart devices in an Alexa routine, you can control multiple devices with a single command.

The smart glasses also work as a Bluetooth headset, so whatever sound I play on my iPhone comes through to the Echo Frames. Echo Frames can connect to two devices and automatically switch to the latest audio playback. I can connect to my iPhone and PC, switching easily in a matter of seconds.

As great as these Amazon services are, it’s always good to have an alternative. Echo Frames can be linked to other digital assistants and alternative music providers. When paired with my iPhone, I can use a long press on the right rear button to access Siri and connect to Apple Music. I also tested with Android, playing songs on Spotify and asking for information from the Google Assistant.

echo frames battery life

The Echo Frames look like normal glasses, but I still drew a crowd while wearing them.
The Echo Frames look like normal glasses, but I still drew a crowd while wearing them. Photo by Tracy Trulli/

Since the Echo Frames work as convenient glasses as they do as earbuds, battery usage is minimal. I charge all my portable devices every night, and the Echo Frames’ battery never dropped below 50%.

Amazon claims you can use the Echo Frames for up to 14 hours with moderate usage, which is 40% longer than the previous generation. This estimate matches my experience, but it’s best to expect that you’ll have to charge these smart glasses daily. The Alexa app also lets you enable a low-power mode that disables the ability to listen. All you need to do is say “Alexa” or “Echo” to activate Echo Frames.

If you play audio continuously, this can reduce to 6 hours. Amazon includes a charging dock (complete with USB-C connector) that fully refills the battery in 2.5 hours, so you can top up during the day.

The third generation Amazon Echo Frames sitting on their charging base.
The Echo Frames Charging Base takes a little getting used to. Phil Nickinson/

It may take some time to get used to the charging base. Amazon does a good job explaining in its included quick-start guide that the Echo Frames need to be held with the lens facing up to charge, but it could have been a little more specific about how to screw the glass onto the base. The short version is that you’ll want to close the right hand temple completely to the frame, and leave the left hand temple mostly empty while you place the nose pads on the bridge of the base. If it feels like you have to force anything, you’re doing it wrong. A hidden LED will change from flashing white to orange if you use it correctly; If you miss it will turn red.

A charging case – like you get with the Ray-Ban Meta Glasses – would be nice for portability, and it would remove any concerns about using these while on the go.

Should you buy Amazon Echo Frames?

The bottom line is value. Amazon currently charges $195 for the least expensive third-generation Echo Frames, but the regular price is $270 (this is typical for most Amazon products). This is expensive compared to the 2023 Amazon Echo Buds which sell for $50. The Echo Buds have virtually identical features and include a charging case to extend battery life up to 20 hours.

If you don’t like earbuds, the Echo Frames are a good alternative. I find them to be as comfortable as sunglasses and as attractive as sunglasses or prescription frames. The open ear design makes it easy to talk with friends and family without having to take the earbuds out or switch to transparency mode.

If you’re looking for smart glasses that include a screen, I recently compared three of the top display smart glasses brands so it might be worth a look. If you’re looking for new glasses the Echo Frames are an interesting option. However, if these smart glasses are out of your budget, you may want to add these to your Amazon wish list.






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