Amazon Echo Dot Review | Mini Alexa

Echo Dot Box

Amazon Echo Dot Review | Mini Alexa


Update:

Amazon read my review (not really) and decided to slash the price of the Dot by almost 50% with their version 2 device. Get yours below:

Echo Dot

The Echo Dot

I’ve finally got my hands on the elusive Amazon Echo Dot. For some reason, it’s always sold out. I ordered one a few months ago along with the Amazon Tap I reviewed recently but due to the absurdly long shipping time (something like 2-3 months) I cancelled the order, BIG MISTAKE. If you ever get the chance to order this thing, don’t hesitate. The Dot is like Big Foot or the Lochness Monster, there are theories about its existence and even some declassified footage but you can never see one out in the wild. You can only imagine how it feels to actually have access to one. I suggest that anyone who reads this should tell Alexa to order them one immediately, and yes you have to tell Alexa to place the order since for some reason Amazon will only let you order one via Alexa enabled devices such as the Echo, Tap or Fire TV.

Echo Dot Side Profile

Design

The Echo Dot looks like someone took the original Echo sliced off the top portion just above the speaker grille. It also keenly resembles a Hockey puck and with almost identical dimensions. The good thing is that although the Dot is a quarter the size of the original Echo it retains all the functionality including Amazon’s vaunted Far Field voice recognition system which uses 7 microphones with beam forming technology to give the device capabilities that are almost second to none in the industry. The only thing gone is the Echo’s speaker technology which sadly is not missed in this device. The Dot adds features that cannot be found in the OG Echo like the ability to connect to Bluetooth enabled speaker systems and audio out functionality which the Echo (non-Dot) lacks. The Dot’s build quality is in line with that of it’s older sibling. The speaker is built from hard plastic with a rubberized coating on the top and bottom of the device. The design is also fairly simple, the Dot features only 2 buttons, one for muting/un-muting the speaker and the other for allowing the speaker to interface with the Alexa app to perform additional tasks such as pairing with Bluetooth and connecting to Wireless Networks. As with the Echo the volume of the speaker can be adjusted by turning the top outer ring of the device. Finally, the Dot is USB powered which makes it a very flexible device as far as where it can be used (like in a car :).

Echo Dot Top Down

Usage

Getting the Dot up and running took roughly 2 minutes but does require you to have a phone or tablet handy as the Alexa app is required for setup. You will also need an “always on” internet connection as the voice recognition and digital assistant functionality will not function without access to the web. Once the Dot was connected to WiFi, Alexa became self-aware and started mumbling something about “Judgement Day” and some other gibberish that I was too hungry to understand. Although I’m joking, you should be aware that “Alexa” is an AI that is constantly learning new skills, over 1,000 within the first half of this year and can actively listen to your conversations if ever compromised. Tinfoil Hat now safely removed, back to my hunger. After all the calories spent setting up the Dot I figured I would make myself something to eat. Conveniently I have an AdHoc speaker system that I made from combining a cheap Bluetooth dongle with an old Logitech Speaker. Pairing the Dot with the speaker was a breeze. I just put the Bluetooth dongle into pairing mode, fired up the Alexa app and followed the instructions on the screen. Within a minute or so I was jamming to some Lana Del Ray and Sade ( I have a thing for strong female vocalists). The ability to connect to “real” audio systems is where the Dot trumps it’s older sibling. This was one thing that I disliked about the Echo when I first reviewed it but now I know why an AUX out was not included with that device.

Echo Dot Top Down in Box

Conclusion

The Echo Dot, though sold at almost half the price of the original Echo, is actually an upgrade to the older device. The reason being is that although the Echo is an excellent all in one system, it is limited by what makes it such a great device. The fact that you can only use the Echo’s built in speaker is a huge limitation for a device that is mostly used to play music. There are many people out there including myself that prefer “High Fidelity” audio when jamming to our favorite tunes, and the original Echo does not deliver in this department. This is due to the fact that not only is the speaker, not stereo, it also lacks the range of frequencies needed to reproduce music properly. My statements are in no way meant to knock the Echo as it is an excellent device for what it is but for those who need more, the Echo Dot delivers. Throw in the fact that the Dot can be powered by a standard Micro USB cable and does all this at half the price of the original Echo and you have a winner in my book.

Echo Dot Box Int

Thoughts

I have a question for Amazon. Why not make more Dots and discontinue the Echo if it’s not cost effective anymore? Yeah, you will need to sell two Dots to make the same revenue as one Echo but having a cheaper device will also make the unit more accessible, leading to more sales. I think the nail in the coffin for the Dot will be the fact that it is too good at what it does. By making the Dot more available, Amazon will, in essence, be cannibalizing the sales of ALL it’s Alexa devices including any deals that they are working on with car manufacturers or Home Automation providers to integrate the functionality into their offerings. I really like the Echo Dot and hope that Amazon makes it more available. In my opinion, it is the “Killer App” of digital assistant speaker systems and I need to order one for my car but can’t since they’re all sold out! Please Make more Amazon, the demand is there.Don’t kill off a good device to make money off one that is inferior.



Technical Specs
Size 1.5″ x 3.3″ x 3.3″ (38 mm x 84 mm x 84 mm)
Weight 8.8 oz. (250 grams)
Actual size and weight may vary by manufacturing process
Wi-Fi Connectivity Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) for faster streaming and fewer dropped connections than standard Wi-Fi. Supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networks. Does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
Bluetooth Connectivity Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) support for audio streaming from your mobile device to Echo Dot or from Echo Dot to your Bluetooth speaker. Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) for voice control of connected mobile devices. Hands-free voice control is not supported for Mac OS X devices. Bluetooth speakers requiring PIN codes are not supported.
Audio Built-in speaker for voice feedback when not connected to external speakers. 3.5 mm stereo audio output for use with external speakers.
System Requirements Echo Dot comes ready to connect to your home Wi-Fi. The Alexa App is compatible with Fire OS, Android, and iOS devices and also accessible via your web browser. Certain skills and services may require a subscription or other fees.
Warranty and Service 1-year limited warranty and service included. Use of Echo Dot is subject to the terms found here.
Included in the Box Echo Dot, 3.5 mm audio cable (4 ft.), power adapter (9W), USB charging cable, and Quick Start Guide



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