Echo Dot

The new Echo Dot from Amazon

The Echo dot 2nd Generation from Amazon is a great update to the existing Echo dot product. If you have not heard of the Amazon Echo before, read our review of the Original Amazon Echo

The new Amazon Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Amazons virtual assistant "Alexa" to play music, control your smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms, build shopping lists and more. 

Setting up Echo

Although the Echo dot is a very capable device, it can easily be set up within a few minutes with the help of the Alexa App. You can also go to Amazon.com/echosetup on the web, for a useful web app. This setup process is exactly the same as the larger Echo.

Once you have the app or the webpage, it's as simple as pairing your echo with home Wi-Fi Connection. The Echo has great Wi-Fi connectivity even if it quite far away from your router. Once your Echo has Wi-Fi connectivity you can start talking to your digital assistant using the wake word "Alexa". The wake word is set to "Alexa" by default, but you can change this later to "echo" or "Amazon". 

Echo Dot's looks

Echo dot is house in a nice small form factor plastic casing. The Echo Dot has two extra buttons than the original Echo allowing you to control the volume by pressing the volume Up or Down buttons.



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THE FEATURES

Echo's features are vast with new skills added to the skills library daily. These skills range from the not so useful "Random Quote" or "Daily Facts" to the very useful such as weather updates and information about the traffic delays on your daily commute.  You can even order an Uber via Alexa. 

Alexa allows you save some time searching via your phone or web browser, just ask Alexa and she connects to Google for searches or synchronize with your Google Calendar to allow Alexa to handle your schedule. 

ECHO DOT’S SOUND QUALITY

Echo's sound quality OK but if your are buying it just for the speaker you can get better for your money. Although the sound quality is not excellent, it is transparent and detailed, there is also a bit of bass behind the sound. Its very clear and easy to understand when Echo is speaking to you. When you do turn the volume up to the max the sound does become distorted.  

ECHO AND AMAZON SERVICES

Amazon Echo much like all Amazon devices tries to encourage you to use Amazon's Services. Amazon prefers if you use their services such as Prime Musicand Audible but these defaults can be changed within Alexa settings. You're not locked into Amazons services but some services do not currently work with Echo such as Tidal, Apple Music and Google Music. If you want to use these services you will have to connect via Bluetooth and use Echo as a speaker. 

Echo does upload data to Amazon’s servers for analysis. How much exactly remains unclear. According to Amazon, Alexa streams audio “a fraction of a second” before the “wake word” and continues to stream until the request has been processed by Alexa.

USING AMAZON ECHO WITHIN YOUR SMART HOME

Echo Dot is compatible with many existing consumer smart home products as well as some high-end Home Automation equipment such as Crestron  and Control4. Some great products such as Phillips Hue, Nest, WeMo and Logitech Harmony can all integrate with Amazon Echo to provide a great Smart Home experience. 

Amazon is taking a more open approach to home automation that for example Apple and their HomeKit program. Amazon does not force products to conform to a single standard and this allows Echo to control more devices than Apple's HomeKit. 

WELL, SHOULD I BUY THE AMAZON ECHO DOT?

Personally, I have had Echo Dot in the home since the UK release date, It controls all of the Phillips Hue lights in the house as well controlling TV's and Computers using a Logitech Harmony System. It is used for the family shopping list as well as travel updates for daily commutes. Alexa allows you check your schedule quickly and allows to add items to your to-do list you would otherwise forget. 

Now that Echo in UK has IFTTT integration the possibilities with Echo Dot are endless. 

THE VERDICT