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Amazon Echo Look review: Amazon's Echo Look camera turns Alexa into a fashion stylist

The fashion-centric camera takes voice-activated selfies and short videos to help you sift through your wardrobe.

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Ashlee Clark Thompson
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Ashlee Clark Thompson

Associate Editor

Ashlee spent time as a newspaper reporter, AmeriCorps VISTA and an employee at a healthcare company before she landed at CNET. She loves to eat, write and watch "Golden Girls" (preferably all three at the same time). The first two hobbies help her out as an appliance reviewer. The last one makes her an asset to trivia teams. Ashlee also created the blog, AshleeEats.com, where she writes about casual dining in Louisville, Kentucky.

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9 min read

Editors' note (June 6, 2018): Since the Echo Look's debut in May 2017, Amazon has expanded its lineup of Echo smart speakers, refreshed older models, and continued to build out Alexa's skillset, third-party integrations and special features. Though the competition has stiffened, too, none of the new smart speakers have made incursions into the Echo Look's primary area of expertise. For now, Amazon continues to have the "virtual fashion assistant" space all to itself. 

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7.2

Amazon Echo Look

The Good

The $200 Amazon Echo Look lets you take voice-activated full-body selfies and short video clips that make it easy to catalog and keep track of your wardrobe. The hallmark feature, Style Check, provides input when you're comparing two outfits, and the feedback is usually spot-on.

The Bad

The sound quality stinks. The app is missing features that would make it a more useful style adviser. It's more expensive than other smart speakers in the Amazon family. And privacy concerns? I have a few.

The Bottom Line

The Echo Look provides an objective second opinion on what you should wear. But if fashion's not your bag, opt for one of Amazon's cameraless, cheaper Echo speakers.

The Echo Look was originally available by invitation only. It became widely available on June 6, 2018. Amazon also added features since its debut: The app will suggest items that pair with pieces you already own, organize your photos into collections, search by color, and receive more specific feedback.

The updated Amazon Echo Look review, originally published in June 2017, follows below.

Read this description of the Amazon Echo Look out loud: A $200 photo and video camera with a smart speaker built-in that also takes selfies and doles out fashion advice.

Does this sound silly? Then this product isn't for you, and nothing I say in these next few hundred words will convince you otherwise. 

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The Amazon Echo Look is a $200 internet-connected camera and smart speaker.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Amazon designed the Echo Look to appeal to a specific set of folks who care about their outward appearance and want a digital fashion adviser. You use the Echo Look's camera to take hands-free, full-body selfies and videos that you store in the accompanying app. Amazon then uses a combination of artificial intelligence and advice from real stylists to help you decide between two outfits. And as crazy as it sounds, it does this job really well.

The Echo Look is at its best when you treat it as a fashion adviser instead of a smart-home speaker. It gives you an easy way to catalog your wardrobe and get a real-life view of how you look in your clothes. And the Style Check feature provides surprisingly good feedback about what you should wear.

But the Echo Look still has its faults. Its sound quality is poor, especially when you compare it to other Echo speakers. The app could use a few additional features to give you more proactive fashion advice. And it gives me pause to consider the amount of visual information Amazon will gobble up with this thing.

If you consider yourself fashion-conscious, you might want to find a spot in your budget and your closet for the Echo Look. But if you just want a smart speaker without a side of fashion advice, you're better off with one of Amazon's other Alexa-powered products.

Here's everything the Amazon Echo can do

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The basics

At its core, the Echo Look is an internet-connected selfie and quick video camera that shares most of the same features as the rest of Amazon's line of Echo products (the original Echo, the Echo Dot, the Echo Tap and the Echo Show). 

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The speaker is on the back of the Echo Look, so the sound projects away from you.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It runs on Alexa, Amazon's voice-activated virtual assistant, and it can do almost everything other Alexa devices can. Via spoken Alexa commands, the Echo Look can stream music, check your calendar or tell you about the weather, among other tasks. And it connects to other internet-connected devices like plugs or light bulbs so you can control your smart-home with your voice.

In terms of looks, the Echo Look is more like a security camera than a speaker. It's only 2.4 by 2.4 by 6.3 inches, so it doesn't take up that much space. It screws into a base that allows you to easily tilt the camera to get the best shot of you (you can also mount it to a wall).

There are some noticeable shortcomings when you compare the Echo Look to its sister speakers. You can't use it to send or receive messages, and it can't differentiate which speaker you're talking to if you have more than one Echo device in your home. The Echo Look's sound quality is also noticeably worse than its sister Echos because the speaker is located on the back of the unit, so it projects sound away from you rather than toward you. 

Photos and videos

Remember that scene in "Clueless" (the 1995 movie, not the watered-down TV show) when Alicia Silverstone's Cher was getting ready for her big lose-her-virginity date with Christian? She had some sage advice: "I don't rely on mirrors, so I always take Polaroids." 

The Echo Look is the 2017 version of Cher's preferred way to preview an outfit. You place the camera on an elevated surface like the top of a dresser. Pull up the Echo Look app on your phone and use the video feed to adjust the camera so it captures a full-body view. 

Once you're satisfied with the view, you can start taking selfies. This is where Alexa comes into play. You use voice commands to activate the camera, which gives you a hands-free way to grab a selfie. Let's say you want to see how you look in a new pair of jeans and a top. Put on the outfit, use the app to see the camera's view and position yourself in the middle of the frame and say, "Alexa, take my picture." The Echo Look will beep twice, then the four LED lights that surround the camera will illuminate, and the camera takes your photo on the third beep. 

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Four LED lights flash when the Echo Look takes your picture or video.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Echo Look app (available for iOS and Android) keeps up with all your photos organized by date in the "Looks" section. By default, your photo appears up in the app with a slightly blurred background so you and your outfit pop (you can disable that setting). Each picture includes a "Details" section where you can add notes about your outfit. This section also keeps a record of what the weather was on that day to provide your future self with some context for your past outfit choices. 

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CNET's Megan Wollerton took a picture with the Echo Look (left). The app returned a page full of similar clothes that she could buy directly through Amazon.

Ashlee Clark Thompson/CNET

The Echo Look wouldn't be an Amazon product if there wasn't some encouragement to buy some clothes through the online retailer. In the "Details" section of some pictures, you'll find pictures of clothing options that are similar to those you're wearing in the selfie. If you select one of the comparable outfits, the Echo Look app redirects you straight to the Amazon listing for the item. This inevitable tie-in to online shopping is fairly unobtrusive, and it isn't available with every photo. And the outfits that the Echo Look app suggests are pretty spot-on. 

In June 2018, Echo Look got more aggressive in its Amazon tie-ins. The app added a feature that recommend pieces (that directly link to Amazon) that will pair well with the tops and bottoms in your pictures. Since this is an optional feature, I'm not too mad about the pressure to order clothes from Amazon.

You can also use the Echo Look to capture 6-second videos of yourself, ideally to get a 360-degree view of your ensemble and answer the age-old question: "How does my ass look?" Say, "Alexa, take my video," wait for the aforementioned beeps, and do a twirl. These videos are stored in the same space on the app as the still shots, with the same option to add details about your outfit. And if you really like what you see, you can download and share your photos and videos from within the app.

The photos and video that the Echo Look captures provide a good view of what you're wearing that indeed trumps what you get from a mirror. They're well lit thanks to the LED lights on the body of the Echo Look, and the voice activation eliminates the need for selfie sticks, self timers or a patient partner who doesn't mind taking your picture. 

I'd like to see the Echo Look app beef up what you can do with your pictures in the app. For example, it would be helpful to be able to categorize your clothes with labels like "dressy," "business professional" or "casual" so you can easily scan through your wardrobe for a specific occasion. But overall, I think "Clueless'" Cher would be pleased.

Style Check

One of the biggest draws of the Echo Look is the app's Style Check feature. Here's how it works: You select two photos of yourself in different outfits and submit them to Style Check. In about a minute, Style Check will return a recommendation about which outfit you should wear by showing the percentage it favors each outfit. 

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After you submit two photos for comparison, you receive a push notification (top left) when the Style Check results are ready. The app uses percentages to show you which outfit it thinks is best.

Ashlee Clark Thompson/CNET

According to Amazon, "Style Check is powered by combining advanced machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists. Our fashion specialists have varied backgrounds in the fashion, retail, editorial and styling industries and are trained to evaluate outfits based on fit, color, styling, season and current trends." Style Check also asks you to choose which option you like better to help the system "get smarter."

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CNET intern Kaelan Doolan wore the same outfit, but with different shoes. Style Check had a preference.

Ashlee Clark Thompson/CNET

Amazon declined to get into a lot of detail about how the Style Check works or how it improves over time. But after a couple of days of heavy use, Style Check seems pretty smart. It knew when I attempted to submit a picture of me and a picture my colleague Megan Wollerton in the same Style Check. For the most part, it also knew when I attempted to submit two different pictures of me in the same outfit. And the camera could even tell the difference between two pictures of our intern, Kaelan Doolan, in the same clothes but different shoes.

After a handful of Style Checks, you can start coming to some conclusions about what outfits work best for you. For example, I noticed patterns in what the app recommended for me: Dresses over pants and a top, slacks and a cardigan over a t-shirt and jeans, fitted clothes over looser options. 

When I first reviewed the Echo Look, I wanted to see Style Check provide more outright advice rather than having to review all of the Style Checks to find these patterns. Since then, Amazon has added more feedback. The Style Check results list all of the qualities that make it prefer one look over another one. For example, one Style Check said it preferred my outfit of a black cardigan, pattern blouse and burgundy pants to those same pants with a different sweater because the patterns and shape of the outfit work better. Though it isn't getting as specific as I'd like (Alexa, should I wear more yellow?) this was a smart addition to Style Check that helps you learn what works for you.

Unlike a spouse or a good friend, the Echo Look isn't trying to build up your self-esteem. Rather, it provides objective advice based on the info with which you present it. And I agreed with the Style Check in nearly every comparison I submitted.

Security

Let's address the elephant in the room: With a built-in camera that takes photos and videos, how safe is it to have the Echo Look in my bedroom?

Here's what Amazon had to say about privacy and security with the Echo Look:

There's also a slight delay between what the camera captures and what shows up on the video in the app. And you can't access the camera's feed in the app if your phone is on a different Wi-Fi network than your Echo Look. 

But I see some practical issues. For example, someone in your home can still snap pictures even if your phone's not on the same Wi-Fi network, so you might get flooded with a feed of silly selfies if you have some precocious kids or roommates. And at the end of the day, you're still submitting a lot of visual information to Amazon and trusting that it will be in good hands.

Final thoughts

Amazon's Echo speakers have thus far aimed squarely for mainstream appeal. The Echo Look is different. This is a product for folks who care about fashion and outward appearance -- hard stop. It provides a reliable second opinion and great visual catalog of your wardrobe. But if you just want a smart speaker, this is not the Echo you're looking for.

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7.2

Amazon Echo Look

Score Breakdown

Features 7Usability 8Design 6Performance 8
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