I love my Amazon Echo so much that I brought one to the UK for my parents, but unfortunately it really was a bit of a swine to set up – apparently, our friends at Amazon don’t go out of their way to make setup easy in a market they haven’t actually launched their product in, and the Amazon Echo and BT Internet is not a match made in heaven either. After a half hour of cursing and a little googling for help, I finally got things up and running. Here’s what went wrong and how you might be able to make things work with yours – give me a shout in the comments if you run into problems and we’ll see if we can help.
Power Adapter and Alexa App
The first issue you’ll come across is that the power adapter is of course US socket spec. Either buy yourself a US to UK plug adapter, or more elegantly throw it out (or take it back to the US) and buy yourself a UK-specific USB adapter that offers 5.2V / 1.8 amp output if you have the Echo Dot. All you need is a USB to
Secondly, you’ll probably want to try and you can’t get the Amazon Alexa app if you’re not in the US, so you’ll need to use the http://alexa.amazon.com site from a PC or Mac to even set the thing up. Don’t bother trying from a mobile phone because that’ll just tell you to go get the app, at least on Android.
Connecting to the Internet with a BT Hub 5
Once connected to the Echo through a browser, I was able to log in with my Mum’s English Amazon account, but continually failed at the “Connect to the Internet”
Once You’re Connected
Overall, the Echo performs pretty flawlessly in the UK. Amazon’s Alexa service has no trouble at all understanding a UK English accent, answering questions, installing Skills (if you can find any worth installing) or playing music from Spotify. There are, however, a few little gaps in the international experience.
The Echo app only offers a list of US-based addresses for setup. If you don’t specify a location, Alexa cannot give you the time or weather where you are. You can say things like “What’s the time in London, England?” but that sounds a bit contrived and is faintly annoying to have to do, so give her the zip code 96799 for American Samoa and you’ll at least be able to get close to the right time – American Samoa is pretty much on the opposite side of the world to the UK and are usually 12 hours behind us, so – good enough.
If you’re living somewhere else in the world, try and pick a US state that either corresponds exactly with your own time-zone, or one that’s 12 hours behind/ahead – for example, if you’re in Paris or Berlin choose Honolulu Hawai’i as your location and you’ll be all set. The zip code there is 96801.
One annoyance with being 12 hours off: when you set an alarm for a specific time, you’ll need to tell Alexa to set it for the evening if you really want it in the morning, and vice versa. The weather’s going to be pretty far off too, so you’ll still have to be specific when you ask for that.
Linking to Spotify
I linked the Echo to my Mum’s UK-based Spotify account. It does need to be a Premium account, but it worked perfectly. She doesn’t have an Amazon Prime subscription, so we didn’t try Prime music.