Amazon made ripples in the market when it launched the Amazon Echo series in 2014. The original Echo was followed by the Amazon Echo dot, a smaller hockey-puck sized version. It was at that time one of the only few smart speakers available in the market. It met its rival in the Google Home and Home mini in 2016 (read the review of Google Home mini here). Amazon recently launched a new generation of Echo dot devices in March, 2019. I’ve already reviewed the Home mini, now let’s have a look at the Echo dot:
The setup process is as simple as it can get. If you are already invested in the Amazon Echo ecosystem, then you just have to open the Alexa app on your smartphone, and open the devices section. The app will then perform a quick scan for any Alexa devices nearby. After the app finds your new Echo dot speaker, it will just take a couple of minutes to get your speaker up and running.
But, if the Echo dot is your first Alexa device, then the process will be a little longer. You will first have to download the Amazon Alexa app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store on your smartphone. Then login with your Amazon account, or if you don’t have one, then you will have to make one. After this is complete, just follow the steps in the last paragraph to set up your Echo dot. To download the Alexa app, click here.
Amazon has improved on the design with the Echo Dot (3rdGen) over the previous generation Dot. It feels like Amazon has borrowed the Echo Dot’s design concept from Google, and its Google Home lineup. The Echo Dot (2ndGen) had a hard plastic on its curved side, and looked like a hockey puck, which is not something you’d like to keep in your living room. But the Echo Dot (3rdGen) feels a lot more premium than its older sibling. The new cloth-like material that Amazon has used on the curved side of the Echo Dot feels good to touch, and premium to look at. It also still has the curved lightstrip on the top side, which lights up whenever you speak to it or when you’re changing the volume.
Apart from the material and design, the placement of buttons has not changed. You still have the volume up and down buttons at the top of the Echo Dot along with the mute and Alexa button. At one side you get a proprietary power port (Google Home gets a microUSB instead) and an Audio out 3.5mm port. The Echo Dot is available in Black (reviewed here), Grey, and White.
The Amazon Echo Dot is one of the best speakers that I’ve listened to in this price range and size. The mid tones are crystal clear and stand out from rest of the music, giving your song an added dimension. When listening to vocals, you get the feeling the someone is singing right in front of you. The treble is also great, it remains clear and sharp even at high volumes. The treble never gets ear piercing, even while listening to EDM tracks.
Though there is one major drawback to the Echo Dot’s sound, it lacks bass. Being such a small speaker, it does not have enough space for a decent resonating chamber, and thus lacks the bass needed to give your music that much needed punch. Apart from lacking bass, it also only outputs music in one channel, so don’t expect any stereo experience from the speaker. Overall the Echo Dot is great speaker, especially at this price point considering its other smart capabilities.
Nobody buys a smart speaker just to listen to music, right? Well if you are interested into the other, smarter capabilities of the Echo Dot, then you’re in for a treat. Alexa does a great job at being a smart assistant and can easily manage tasks like calendar, alarms, reminders, music, routine, and much more.
With the Alexa enables Echo Dot, you can easily control your other smart home devices like the Wipro Smart light bulb, or the Phillips Hue lightstrip just by using your voice.
One place where Alexa lags Google Assistant is with its general knowledge capabilities. Alexa just does not have as much information at its disposal as Google Assistant has, so it will be slightly slower to answer some of your deep GK questions.
As the Amazon Echo Dot does not have a built-in battery, you would need it to plug it in using the adapter whenever you want to use it. This is a serious drawback to those who want to use the Echo Dot as a portable Bluetooth speaker, given its small size.
One major plus point with the Echo Dot is the ability to connect an external speaker using the Audio out port on the side. This makes the Echo Dot send the audio to the connected speaker, which makes for a better sounding speaker system, with all the smarts that come with Alexa.
Talking about support for services, you could use services like Amazon Music, Gaana, JioSaavn, TuneIn, and Hungama Music, though the integration with Amazon Music is the best. You can also enhance the capabilities of your Echo Dot by using features that Amazon likes to call ‘Skills’. Basically, these ‘Skills’ are service add-ons provided by third parties like News, Sleep Music, etc which can do some specific tasks, that may not be part of the original ecosystem.
The Amazon Echo Dot would be a great choice for anyone looking for a cheap speaker that can control your home, wake you up in the morning, all while being good for a quick music listening session. It presents great value for your buck, especially at Rs. 3,999.
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