We already have a first generation Echo and an Alexa powered alarm clock (the Vobot) and wanted to add another device, and it came down to either a new generation echo or this one - in the end the fact that this is battery powered and therefore portable was the clincher and we decided that portability was more important so we can move it from room to room, and particularly use it in our bathroom where's there's no plug sockets.
The first that became apparent is that it's a lot smaller than I imagined - from the photos on here I expected it to have the same form-factor as an Echo, but that's not the case and this is far smaller and noway near as tall.
On to sound quality then, and the Cowin sounds pretty decent. I've been a bit spoilt by the Doss Soundbox XL which is our main Bluetooth speaker and a real beast, and this was never going to be able to compete with that, but it's a lot more portable than that one is. There's a decent kick to the bass and all the music I threw at it sounded absolutely good enough. Just like our first gen Echo it's not going to compete with a proper hi-fi speaker setup, but then it's not supposed to. It's not as loud as the Echo but still more than good enough to fill a room.
The Alexa functionality is different to the Echo - you have to actually press the button to get it to listen to you. At first I though that sort of defeats the point of it, but we already have something similar on the alarm clock and it's actually still pretty useful. One advantage of this method is you don't end up screaming at Alexa like we have to when the Echo is playing music and doesn't hear us! I'm not sure I'd want the press to activate system to be my only Alexa speaker and the always listening function of the Echo is great for turning lights off etc without having to get up, but as this is a secondary speaker for us it's fine.
Set up was straight forward - the wi-fi connection was simple enough and the bluetooth connectivity worked exactly as you would expect. As portability was key for us I'm happy to report that battery life is decent and it'll last all week in the bathroom comfortably for us without needed to be recharged.
So the big question is do you go for this or an Echo? Well if you intend on keeping the speaker in one room then I'd say the always-listening Echo has the advantage if you want to control smart home items like lights etc, as you can just speak and it'll listen without having to physically press a button. However if you need a portable speaker there's really no choice - this is really the only option you have and it makes a great second Alexa enabled device that you can move from room to room. As I say, our lives mainly in the bathroom, and the fact it has a rechargeable battery makes it perfect for this (just keep it out of harm's way away from water obviously!).
The Amazon page lists an rrp of £345.99 which is crazy - you'd have to be mad to pay that for a bluetooth speaker, however at the actual price I'm very happy with it.