Why Amazon's Echo Dot Is Better Than Amazon Echo
What's the Amazon Echo Dot?
Design-wise it looks like a hockey puck with two buttons on top. It's basically a Bluetooth speaker that looks like the first inch and a half of the top of a Pringles can.
The new Echo Dot has everything the old Echo had, including long range, far-field voice capabilities, a microphone off button, an action button (for WiFi), and of course "Alexa," who can answer questions, play music, and give you news, weather, traffic, sports results, and much more. You won't lose access to any of the Echo's abilities, including its third party skills like Fitbit, Uber, Domino's Pizza, and Capitol One (found in the Alexa app).
However, there are a couple of huge differences between the old Amazon Echo and the new Echo Dot, and these differences are what take the Dot beyond its parent product.
Echo Dot's Best New Features
New Hardware of the Echo Dot
While the software of Echo Dot is similar to its predecessor's, the hardware is slightly different but that's what makes it interesting.
- This product contains a 3.5 mm audio output jack that facilitates connectivity to any speaker and turns it into an Alexa-enabled device.
You'll note that a 4 ft. long 3.5 mm audio cable, a power adapter, and USB charging cable (adapter and USB cable included with Amazon Echo) are part of the package.
- If you prefer to connect the device to your own Bluetooth speaker, then you may do just that.
Download the Alexa app from Fire OS, Android, or iOS devices and use the Quick Start Guide included in the packaging to setup your WiFi and Bluetooth to other products (mobile phones and Bluetooth speakers). The lack of an audio output on the first Echo was a huge complaint when it launched. Small changes make a massive difference.
- You can obtain the sound quality you want and access Alexa's smarts, including the ESP feature designed for multiple devices. When you say "Alexa", only the closest device to you will respond.
The Echo Dot's Price Cut
It's Over Half the Cost
- At a mere $50 dollars (49.99 to be exact), the Echo Dot is more than half as expensive as its ancestor.
You'll receive the same software and Alexa voice capabilities as the original with the added capacity to improve speaker quality through an audio output or Bluetooth connection, and it's half the price! No wonder so many tech sites praised this product, often giving it an Editor's Choice Award.
- The Echo Dot is much lighter/smaller than the Echo, which increases its portability in the home.
There are even ways to take the product outside the home through a combination with another Alexa powered device called the Amazon Tap.
Unfortunately the Amazon Tap was viewed as a middle of the road Bluetooth speaker that lacked cellular data and/or mobile hotspot connections thus limiting portability.
The Tap may be battery powered, but when you constantly need a WiFi connection, it loses its punch.
Oh and in case I forgot to mention, the Echo Dot, like the Echo, provides hands-free activation through a wake word. Within the Alexa app, the spoken wake word that activates the device can either be Alexa, Echo, or Amazon.
Amazon Tap doesn't have that option either. Due to it being battery powered, you have to "tap" a button on the device for Alexa to respond to your request/question.
It's another win for the Echo Dot.
Echo Dot Stands on Its Own
You Don't Need an Extra Speaker
I'm sure when I said this device is worth half the cost of the bigger Echo some rolled their eyes and said to themselves, "Okay What's the Catch?".
I've been rambling about the ability for the Echo Dot to connect to other speakers, but that's really up to you.
- What I love is that this device doesn't lose the far-field voice recognition of its predecessor.
The Echo Dot has that seven microphone array for listening, it supports fast and easy WiFi connectivity, and most importantly it has a built-in speaker that delivers sound on par with other mini Bluetooth speakers.
The sound quality will be lacking and won't fill a room with sound but it's not bad for intimate, bedroom listening, and many reviewers agreed that it sounded better than expected.
You can't go wrong with this device, however; I'd be lying if I didn't mention a couple of flaws surrounding the device itself and Amazon's marketing strategy.
Amazon's Marketing Strategy
How to Order an Echo Dot?
When the first generation model came out, you could only order it via three ways:
- Amazon Echo
- Voice controlled Amazon Fire TV
- Amazon Tap
With the 2nd generation model, you no longer have to order through Alexa though doing so does have its perks ($10 shopping credit).
It was a strange marketing ploy but now you can order it online or in store.
- In fact you can now order the 2nd generational model in either a black or white color.
I know Amazon doesn't like to release numbers/stats for their items, but you can guess how well the first gen sold based on the amount of reviews and how quickly it was out of stock.
Those who pre-ordered the first model a month before its launch (March 31, 2016) were fortunate to receive it early though there remain limitations on how many you could purchase.
That limit was one per order and two per customer, but that's no longer be the case.
- You can get several 2nd generation model, and if you order 5, you get 1 free Echo Dot.
The new model is Amazon's top seller even post its October 20, 2016 release date. When you have a fantastic product at half the rate, then it's no wonder why so many are adamant to try Alexa out as we've already seen.
Also keep an eye out for special Black Friday sales and deals from Amazon because you may be able to purchase the Dot for only $39.99 or in a bundle that includes a Philips Hue starter kit.
Be sure to check out Amazon.com for daily deals all through November and December.
Final Thoughts on Amazon's Echo Dot
The Final Rating of Echo Dot
I'm no expert but as a lifelong futurist and tech junkie, I'd be comfortable to award the Echo Dot 4.5 out of 5 stars.
This product has everything the Echo has but even more. At $50 dollars this Alexa implemented device is a steal.
I had issues with how the product was marketed, but that doesn't affect my score of the actual item.
What does prevent me from giving it a perfect 5 out of 5 is that occasionally it's difficult to get the Dot to hear you during music playback although it's gotten much better with the newer model.
However for all the pros and its excellent price tag, I have nothing but praise for this device. If possible you must try it for yourself especially if you're big on sound and don't want to shell out $180 for the larger Echo.
You won't be disappointed.
The Echo Dot is an excellent product that I'll happily award 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Would You Try an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot?See results without voting
More by this Author
Amazon Echo's new features include Sensi, ecobee, and Nest thermostats, Spotify, skills from Fitbit, Uber, Lyft, Domino's Pizza, and even local news updates or Twitter trending tweets.
200+ funny Amazon Alexa Easter eggs from Star Wars and Star Trek to Game of Thrones found within your Amazon Echo device.
Unlock 20 amazing skills of Amazon Echo in the Alexa App. Premiere skills include Fitbit, Capitol One banking, 1-800-Flowers, Domino's Pizza, Uber, and SmartThings for smart home control.