This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
If you’ve got a living room, you probably spend a lot of time there and that makes it the perfect home for your Amazon Echo gadgets. And while you may use Alexa to play music or even act as a home security camera, there are several other benefits to keeping an Amazon Alexa device in the living room.
Alexa can turn your living room into a home theater, let you control all your smart home devices from your couch, and so much more. While Alexa has many uses in your home, here are the best uses for an Amazon Echo in your living room. (For more tips, here are the best uses for Amazon Echo in your bedroom, the best things you can do with two or more Echo devices and the best ways to use Amazon Echo in the kitchen.
1. Use your Amazon Echo for surround sound
If you’ve got an Amazon Echo, you can turn your living room into a home theater for when you’re watching movies. Note that you do need to have compatible hardware. This works best if you have multiple Echo speakers in your living room or an Alexa-compatible soundbar.
To get started, open the Alexa app and select Devices, tap the Plus icon and select Set Up Audio System. For the best results, you’ll need an Alexa-compatible smart TV or Fire TV to help prevent any lag issues. This also determines whether you’ll select Stereo Pair (connect multiple speakers) or Home Theater (connect speakers to Fire TV) to continue setting up your devices. Follow the onscreen instructions to finish pairing your speakers with your TV.
2. Control your lights with Alexa
Whether it’s plugging your lamp into a smart plug, installing a smart switch or simply using a smart bulb, Alexa can help you turn your lights on and off. This is especially useful when it’s dark and you can’t seem to find the light switch in the middle of the night.
For whichever smart device you have, you’ll need to connect it to your Amazon Echo using the Alexa app. To get started, open the app and tap Devices, then select the Plus icon and tap Add Device. Select the device you’re setting up and follow the onscreen instructions.
3. Manage your home security
If you like to keep your doors locked, even when you’re at home, smart locks can be useful for locking and unlocking your door with just your voice. Even better, you can connect it to your Amazon Echo speaker so you can ask Alexa to control your lock without moving from the couch or wherever you are in the house.
For example, you’d say, “Alexa, lock the front door.” For security reasons, typically a smart lock will lock the door in response to voice commands, but will only unlock it with a PIN code. For more home security tips, check out how you can use Alexa voice commands to control your home security system.
7 excellent security cameras that work with Amazon Alexa
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4. Host family game nights
Playing the same board games over and over can get boring. Fortunately, your Echo device is chock-full of fun games you can play, from trivia to investigation games. Some of the games are already integrated into the Echo speaker, but many are Alexa skills that you can enable in the Alexa app.
The games are great for family nights when you’re staying home — especially with the cooler temperatures. For some starting ideas, here’s a list of Alexa games we like best.