The just-released 2nd Generation Echo Dot is physically slightly different & slightly better for voice recognition, but the major difference is the much-lower price. Our first review still stands up pretty well today.
Echo Dot 2nd gen is now shipping in black and white finishes –
Recommended Smart Home Products –
(Virtual Smart Home Consulting)
Original details of our review:
The brand-new Echo Dot from Amazon is much shorter than the original Amazon Echo, but still as powerful, and now fits into smaller spaces!
The new Echo Dot, like its taller brother, delivers the Alexa personal assistant into your home. Echo Dot is always listening with its array of seven microphones, as found in the original Amazon Echo. These microphones enable far-field listening so that you can speak from anywhere in a large space, or even in an adjacent room. The main difference between the Echo Dot and the full-size Echo is the lack of the Echo’s large speaker. But the Echo Dot can connect to Bluetooth speakers, or even your own stereo or home theatre equipment with the included 1/8” stereo auxillary cable.
In addition to giving you sports scores, weather details, news, Prime music streaming, and the like, Alexa has a wide variety of skills she can learn, as she integrates with other services like Spotify, Uber, and much much more.
For those concerned with privacy, a handy mute button can turn off the always-on listening feature, if desired. The Echo only listens for its “trigger word”, usually “Alexa” and doesn’t transmit all of your conversations to Amazon unless you’re speaking a specific command.
Of course, we’re more interested in home automation, and Alexa can handle that with ease. Shortly after launching, the Echo started to be integrated with systems from SmartThings, Wink, Philips Hue, Insteon and others. The Echo family is upgradable via software, and that makes it future-proof and able to talk to both local “things” in your house and your “smart home” devices that communicate via “the cloud” as well.
Our quick demo shows the ease of adding Philips Hue devices and controlling them. But also shows that there is a bit of work to be done to expand exactly what Alexa can do with various devices. Luckily, our good friend Siri saves the day!
The Amazon is roughly half the price of the original Amazon Echo at only $89.99, which we are also big fans of!
To buy the new Amazon Echo Dot, you need to order it from another Alexa-enabled device. We’re not a fan of this gimmick from Amazon, but there apparently is also a way to order it right from Amazon’s app – but you’ll have to try this trick for yourself to see if it still works – here’s the link to some instructions:
Amazon Echo Dot:
Original Amazon Echo:
Amazon Tap (Portable Smart Speaker w/ Alexa):
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Thanks to our good friend Chris (from the SmartThings episode) who pre-ordered the Echo Dot for us!