Amazon Echo Dot: A Gimmick or a Worthwhile Smart Home Investment?

echo dot

Roughly the size of a baseball, the Echo Dot is easily recognizable. The looks aren’t its biggest draw, however. Its ability to turn any home smarter on the cheap is what makes this device stand out. Amazon is so confident in Echo Dot that they’re selling them in packs of six and even a dozen, perhaps envisioning that we’d all want one in every room! But should you insist on getting one, two, or a dozen for the house?

The Appeal of the Echo Dot

Compared to Echo’s utilitarian design, the new Dot is far more adorable! It’s black, small, and round—reminds us of a hockey puck! What we love most about it, though, is how easily it can be stashed away and become an inconspicuous yet functional part of the house.

41e55kvCRaL. SL250  2

On the technical side, Dot’s design is fairly similar to the previous generation but with slight alterations. For instance, the buttons up top now include volume up and down as well as power and Microphone Off functions. Meanwhile, the speaker holes are lined up along the bottom. Also, the Dot has LED lights around the top that appear when you engage with the device

Hardware

Like the Echo, the Dot also has built-in speakers. Also, like its taller cousin, the internal speaker leaves a lot to be desired. Echo Dot makes up for it, though, with Bluetooth speaker support and an audio-out port that gives it access to nearly any audio device you own.

As mentioned earlier, the Echo Dot also comes with a few physical buttons. Among those, the handiest may be the Mute button. Press it to stop the device from listening for the wake word, “Alexa”, or any name you’ve assigned to it. While you’d want the Echo Dot to be on standby for orders or queries, there may be circumstances when you want to discuss sensitive topics. Of course, you don’t want anybody or anything to eavesdrop on the conversation in those situations.

The Eco Dot substitutes the full-sized Echo’s twistable top with buttons to adjust the volume. It’s interesting to note, though, that most users find it more convenient to lower or raise the volume via voice command.

Finally, Dot sports a LED ring that indicates when the gadget is listening and processing an answer/action. It’s a subtle yet effective detail that will tell you Alexa is listening even from across a room!

Functionality

Where the Echo Dot truly excels is its ability to tie together several Internet-connected devices you may already own. It pairs up well with popular smart home hubs like IFTTT, Nest, and SmartThings, as well as other smart appliance brands like Insteon, Honeywell, WeMo, and Lutron.

With the Echo Dot at the helm, you can tell it to turn on the smart lights in your bedroom or adjust the thermostat without ever getting out of your bed. So far, the Echo line of smart speakers can do thousands of “skills”. With the help of the Echo Dot and the Amazon virtual assistant, Alexa, you can order flowers, hail an Uber, gett the latest NFL scores, listen to the latest news from the AP, or even check your bank account’s balance. All of these without having to fetch your laptop or smartphone.

Should You Get Amazon’s Echo Dot?

With Amazon’s compact smart home hub, you can readily explore an alternative way to build a smart home without maxing out your credit cards. Here’s a quick pros and cons list of the Echo Dot.

Pros

  • Has audio-out port, Bluetooth speaker support. With the Dot’s help, your stereo system can become smarter.
  • Cheaper than the Amazon Echo yet similarly useful. Despite being a $100 cheaper than the full-sized Echo, the Dot still delivers the same level of usefulness as its bigger predecessor.
  • Lets you do thousands of handy Alexa “skills”. Managing the house and living your life may be much simpler with the Dot, even you’re just watching a marathon of The Walking Dead.

Cons

  • Its speaker is unimpressive. If you’re a serious audiophile, you’re better off pairing the Dot with the best portable speakers around.
  • The Alexa mobile app needs a little fixing. Because the app can be buggy at times, get more “skills” for your device the conventional way: web browsers.

All in all the Echo Dot is definitely worth having. At a very reasonable $50, it’s a great entryway into the world of smart devices.