Kitchen timers have to be the single most common use-case for Echo smart speakers, and yet, they’re terrible at them! If your Echo doesn’t have a screen, and you want to find out how much time is left on your timers, you either have to ask your speaker verbally, a painfully slow process with a high failure rate, or check the Alexa app, which inexplicably buries your timers behind multiple taps and menus.
So Amazon largely created this problem, and lo and behold, will now sell you a solution for $30 in the form of the Echo Wall Clock. It may be some kind of technological Stockholm syndrome, but I really like it.
The Echo Wall Clock looks like a basic, inexpensive analog wall clock, and most of the time, that’s exactly what it is. It runs off four (included) AA batteries, and doesn’t include any obvious complications like a date field, the current temperature, or googly cat eyes. But what it does have is a series of LEDs behind the tick marks along the entire outer edge, and a Bluetooth connection to your kitchen Echo device.
Set a timer on your smart speaker, and the appropriate number of tick marks will light up and start count down, giving you an easy-to-read visual of how much longer you should keep your chicken in the oven. Add a second timer, and an additional, single tick mark will denote it until the shorter timer expires, so you can keep track of multiple dishes at the same time. Once one of your timers gets down to the final minute, the whole circumference of the clock will represent that minute, with each tick mark counting off every second until your timer goes off.
The setup process for the clock was simple enough, though the first time I tried it, I got a blinking red error light, and the second time, my timers all inexplicably added four additional tick marks. Set a 10 minute timer, and the clock showed 14. Set a one minute timer, and it showed five. Bizarre! But unpairing and re-pairing it to my kitchen Echo seemed to iron things out, and now everything works great. Timers appear on the clock only a second or two after I create them with my Echo, and I can easily read the tick marks from across the room.
The Echo Wall Clock is a minor convenience that fixes a minor inconvenience that is itself a part of the minor convenience that is voice-driven kitchen timers. It’s all very unnecessary and we could get by fine without any of it, but if you use your Alexa device to set kitchen timers, I really do think it’s the missing piece of the puzzle.
My only real complaint, beyond the fact that this thing needs to exist at all, is that the clock itself is made from a pretty cheap-looking plastic, and only comes in one color scheme. I’d love to see Amazon allow other clock makers to build this feature into their own designs, but until then, I’ll be keeping this one on my wall, and using it basically every time I cook.