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Smart Home

How to disguise your Alexa speaker

Maybe a matte-black speaker doesn't match your entertainment center, or it sticks out in the kitchen. Here's how you can make your Alexa speakers blend in.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Amazon's Echo speakers have grown from a bit of a novelty item to a powerful universal remote for smart homes. A device with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant doesn't just answer whatever questions you throw at it anymore -- it can now do simple things, like turn on the lights. But it can also help you cook (or barbecue), fool would-be thieves into thinking someone is home and help you with your morning routine

The downside? Alexa speakers aren't exactly pretty to look at. Fortunately, there are more designs now than there were two years ago. Alexa speakers come in an array of different shapes, colors and styles, and you have more options for ways to make them blend in.

If you're still rocking an older model, like the Echo or Echo Dot (£50 at Amazon.co.uk), you're not entirely out of luck, however. There are several ways you can disguise your speakers without having to fork out the cash for a new speaker.

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Skins

With your phone, if you don't like the stock appearance, you can purchase a skin for your device for less than $20. The same goes for Alexa speakers.

One popular seller of skins, Slickwraps, offers skins for the Echo (both generations), Echo Dot (both generations), Echo Show, Fire TV Cube ($120 at Amazon.com) and Echo Remote. There are a handful of different styles available for the devices. For instance, there are 19 different style options for the second-generation Echo, such as carbon, metal, wood, leather and stone. Each series comes with a few different color options, so there are dozens of possible colors and styles to choose from.

Without a doubt, the seams are the worst part of these skins. It's virtually impossible to align them perfectly. But if you install the three pieces properly, the seams should all be aligned on the back of the device, hidden from view.

Cases

Rather than rolling out yet another Echo Dot version, Amazon released cases that you can purchase for your second-generation Dot. Amazon's own cases for the Dot range from various colors of fabric to different shades of dyed leather. Currently, they're all $5 for fabric (£10 or AU$21) and $6 for leather (£12, not available in Australia).

For the full-size second-generation Echo, you can purchase a Decorative Shell in fabric (charcoal, sandstone or heathery gray) or wood (oak or walnut) finishes. The fabric Decorative Shells cost $20 (£16), while the wood finish ones cost $30 (£26). Neither of the Echo shells is available from Amazon in Australia, but their price converts to AU$27 for fabric and AU$41 for leather.

These days, the list of third-party cases is extensive. For example, there is an Echo Dot holder that is shaped like an owl. Another hides the Echo Dot in a skull. There is also an alarm clock that doubles as a dock for the Echo Dot and makes it look like any other bedside clock.

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Recessed mounts

Another way to disguise your Echo speaker is to hide it in plain sight with a recessed mount. Of course, this means you'll need to cut a hole in the wall or ceiling and run power to the speaker from inside the wall. However, the installation will be nearly flush-mounted and look like a professional speaker installation, as the entire mount will be covered with a fabric speaker cover.

Other options

If you just can't deal with the look of a smart speaker even in a skin or case, you're not entirely out of options. You can buy other appliances with Alexa instead. For instance, you can opt for the Ecobee4 thermostat, which comes with an Alexa speaker built in.

On the other hand, if you don't mind an Echo in your living room but don't want one in the kitchen, you could purchase and pair the Alexa Voice Remote to bring Alexa anywhere you go without littering your home with speakers. Or you could just use Alexa on your phone.

Now that your smart speakers are hidden or disguised, it's time to give your home a makeover on the cheap.

Maybe start with some affordable art or turning an old iPad into a photo frame for $2.