What about the Amazon Echo Dot? – 2nd Gen Review

What about the Amazon Echo Dot? – 2nd Gen Review

May 23, 2018 8 By Marvin

I’m a bit of sucker for anything with a smart feature, so naturally I gravitate towards most smart speakers with voice assistants. The first generation Amazon Echo Dot was the exception to the rule, I didn’t like it at all, and that was mostly in relation to the price. The second generation Amazon Echo Dot solved that problem by slashing the price in half to $49.99.

A question I hear a lot is, What about the Amazon Echo Dot? Should I spend the $50? I will be breaking down the Dot today and if it is worth your hard-earned cash.

Amazon-echo-dot


Product – Amazon Echo Dot

Price – $49.99 USD

Cheapest Place to Buy – Amazon.com


Design

The design of the Echo Dot is that of a hockey puck. It stands at 1.3 inches high and 3.3 inches wide. On the top of the device you will find the Volume Up, Volume Down, Microphone On/Off and Action or Alexa buttons. Around the top of the device you will also find a 7-Microphone array that helps Alexa listen to you. Around the back of the device is a micro USB for power and a 3.5mm audio jack to connect external speakers.

Amazon-echo-dot

The Amazon Echo Dot comes in Black or White and can also be purchased with a number of cases, this helps you customize the Dot with the look and feel that you want. Color options for the cases come in both fabric and leather options such as : Saddle Tan Leather, Merlot Leather, Midnight Leather, Indigo Fabric, Charcoal Fabric and Sandstone Fabric.

Alexa – The Smart Assistant

There is a very real race between Alexa, Siri and Google Home. Google took a big leap forward a few weeks ago with Google Duplex, but those features won’t be available for at least a year or so. Until then Alexa is about 12 months ahead of Google Assistant when it comes to integration, 3rd Party Support and simplicity.

When you say “Alexa” the Dot will light up, start recording your voice and send everything you say up to the cloud to be analyzed, it will then respond to any questions or queries. Alexa will save all your questions and queries and display those an App on your phone. Alexa has the ability to learn and get better over time due to this ability to stock pile information on specific users and sort of pre-empt what you are going to ask.

Sometimes the microphone array will struggle to hear you in loud environments, if you have the TV on or conversations in the back ground. This is one of my only gripes with the device and can be solved by having multiple Echo Dots.

Alexa is simple in it’s responses and sounds very robotic. It not as robust as the current Google Assistant, but gets the jobs done when it comes to integration and ease of use.

The Echo System

Where Echo devices shines is the integration with smart home features and Third Party support. The Echo Dot can connect to many smart home device’s such as, Lights, Switches, Thermostats, Fans, TV’s, Phillips Hue, TP-Link, Honeywell, LINK, Nest, Sony, Ecobee, WeMo, Insteon, Lutron and the list goes on.

Imagine getting in bed and just being able to say, “Alexa, lock the doors and turn off all the lights”. Smart Assistants are meant to make your life easier, this is where Alexa shines.

Heres another scenario that Alexa shines thanks to third part support, “Alexa, turn on the living room TV and Play Stranger things on Netflix”, “Alexa, turn the thermostat up to … in the living room”. You can do all of this while being in another room. Like my profile says, I love anything with a smart feature.

Amazon-echo-dot

Audio

I’ve said this before in other reviews about other smart speakers, Don’t expect amazing audio performance from a Smart Speaker. Especially not a smart speaker at this price point, the Echo Dot only has a 0.6 inch speaker on board, which is competent and surprisingly loud but only really good for answering questions and relaying

instructions.

The one advantage that the Dot has, is the ability to connect up to an external speaker via the 3.5mm audio jack. Couple the ability to connect to an external speaker and Echo’s third part support and you have a great piece of tech. The Echo Dot provides hands free control over Amazon Music, Pandora, TuneIn Radio, Spotify, IHeart Radio and SiriusXM.

Once you have requested a song or playlist hands free, it’s hard to go back. Especially while you are doing chores or looking after your kids, it’s easier to say “Alexa play ….” than taking your hands off your current task.

Kid Friendly

 

With the Amazon Echo Dot you can now enable a Kid Mode of sorts, it’s call Amazon FreeTime and it can be completely controlled via the app to put in any parental controls you want. You can set daily time limits for the device, review all

activity, pause Alexa, filter explicit songs and turn off online shopping.

There is also a subscription service that gives you access to educational and fun content from brands like, Nickelodeon and Disney. You can also get access to ad free radio stations and audible books.

This is a great little feature to have and adds to the experience of the Echo Dot.

Summary


Pros

  • All the functionality of the last generation at half the price
  • Compact in size
  • Compatability with Smart Home Products
  • Fairly Inexpensive

Cons

  • Alexa is not as complex as others
  • Very small speaker
  • Alexa doesn’t do well in loud environments

Back to the original question, What about the Amazon Echo Dot? The Dot is a very capable smart assistant at a price that is hard to go past. You could buy two Dots for the price of it’s the next closest Echo sibling, and I 100% recommend you do so to get around the Microphone issue in noisy environments.

Amazon-echo-dot

I would still add a speaker if you want to play music on the Echo Dot but, the Dot is still a win-win for those that want an inexpensive assistant that has all the features of it’s bigger more expensive siblings.

My recommendation – Pick up a few Echo Dot’s to have the best experience.


Product – Amazon Echo Dot

Price – $49.99 USD

Cheapest Place to Buy – Amazon.com


What did you think of my review of the Amazon Echo Dot? comment below and let me know