The all new Alexa powered, Amazon Echo Dot is great option to bring the power of your voice to every room in your home.  The Amazon Echo has been wildly successful.  It is the first free standing personal assistant with voice control.  Now with the release of the New Amazon Echo Dot, there is an improved package on the market to expand the reach and accessibility of Alexa in your home.

Who is Alexa? Perhaps your not familiar with the Amazon Echo and the cloud based assistant Alexa.  Might I recommend a quick read through the Smarter Home Automation review on the Amazon Echo.  You will find a detailed review of its features uses and all the functionality that it brings to the home automation world. In this review, I am going to go through the Amazon Echo Dot, its features and differences that set it apart from the original Amazon Echo, setting it up and using it.

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Amazon offers its new version of the Echo Dot in 2 colors, black and white.

The Amazon Echo Dot, in its second generation is even smaller and sleeker.  Amazon offers 2 colors, you may order the echo in black or white.  During this review, I used 2 Echo Dots.  A white model to match the kitchen decor and a black model to be less visible in the bedroom.

The new Echo Dot is only 1.3″ high, and 3.3″ wide. With a weight of 5.7oz (163 grams) its very small and compact.  If you compare that to the Amazon Echo, which comes in at 9.33″ tall and weights in at 37.5oz (1064 grams) its a much smaller package. About one tenth the size.

The Amazon Echo Dot is currently available on Amazons website for $49.99, it is also available for many other tech re-sellers online and in store for the same price. There are currently all kinds of deals to be found on the Amazon website. You can buy 5 and get a 6th Dot free, or buy 12 and get 2 free.  Yes, see what they did there.  There are also optional warranties you can purchase to extend the coverage of the initial 90 day warranty.    I am sure this will be a hit on the next Amazon Prime Day as well as on Black Friday.

Echo Dot connectivity

The sleek new design of the Echo Dot keeps is small and delivers a huge amount of functionality.

There are some differences between the functionality of the Amazon Echo Dot and the original Amazon Echo.  The Amazon Echo, has a good sounding speaker system built into its case. Allowing you to stream music straight from your favorite music service to the Amazon Echo.

The Echo Dot, is much, much smaller. It does have a speaker though.  You can use the Echo Dot in the same way you use the Amazon Echo.  It will play your favorite music using its internal speaker.  It doesn’t sound horrible, but as with most Bluetooth speakers of its size the music is very flat.

Amazon has made one great improvement with the Echo Dot. You can pair the Echo Dot with your favorite bluetooth speaker.

The Echo Dot will still use its internal mic system and far-field voice detection to listen for your commands, and will answer you through the paired speaker.

There is also an audio out 3.5mm jack on the Echo Dot. This allows you to connect it to any system with an AUX port and feed the audio directly into your stereo or speaker if it doesn’t support Bluetooth.

The ability to connect your Echo Dot directly to a speaker is a nice improvement. It would be nice if Amazon could add that functionality via upgrade to the Amazon Echo.  As its stands now, this feature has changed the placement of my Alexa powered devices around my home.

The Amazon Echo has been moved into the kitchen, and the Echo Dot has taken its place in the living room. As the Echo dot is now connected to the entertainment system, it delivers voice access to all of my favorite music services.  There is a lot more detail on supported music services in the Amazon Echo review.

This feature did not come at the expense of being able to pair your phone to the Echo Dot. You can do both!  Not at the same time, of course.  You can pair your phone and stream all your MP3’s or Itunes music to the Echo Dot via Bluetooth, or you can use Bluetooth to connect the Echo dot to a larger better sounding stereo system.  Very welcomed improvement indeed!

 

 

Amazon Echo Dot – Setup

 

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In box contents of the Echo Dot. Power supply, Echo Dot and quick start guide.

Setting up the Echo Dot is a lot like many other network enabled devices these days. Plug it in an open the app.

When you open the Box you will find the Echo Dot of course. Packaged along side it will be the power supply, cable and a quick start guide.

There is a nice summary of commands and phrases that is a nice reference if this is your first Alexa enabled Amazon device.

Please take a look at the screen shots below for a complete step by step walk through of setting up the Echo Dot. It was very much like its larger brother the Echo.  Once plugged in, the Echo dot will boot up and Alexa will announce its in setup mode.  Then with the Orange ring it will sit and wait to be configured. Configuring the Echo is as easy as opening the app and adding the Echo Dot to your WIFI network. Of course that is simplified a little bit.  There are step by step screen shots below if you would like to go through them.

If the Echo Dot is your first Alexa enabled assistant , a read through the Amazon Echo review will be a wealth of information.  The Echo Dot is a fully featured personal assistant, offering all the same features as the full size Amazon Echo. This includes Skills, Music services and controlling your smart home. The Amazon Echo review covers all of these topics in detail.


Amazon Echo Dot - Bluetooth

Connecting a Bluetooth speaker to the Echo Dot is a welcomed feature.  I did notice it did not support speakers that require a PIN to connect. I felt pretty lucky that neither my Onkyo receiver or my Fugoo speaker require a PIN.

It was easy to connect the speakers. I connected each one to a different Echo Dot.

To sum it up

  1. Put your speaker in pairing mode
  2. Open app and select the Echo Dot you want to pair
  3. Search and select the speaker.
  4. Done!

Once you have paired a speaker you can use voice commands to connect and disconnect to it.   When I don’t want Alexa using the living room system for sound, I simply tell the Echo Dot, “Alexa, disconnect speaker” . When I want to connect and play music on the stereo again, I simply say, “Alexa, connect speaker”

Connecting your phone is even easier. Just ask Alexa,” Alexa, pairing mode” .  Alexa will respond with pairing mode activated. Then you follow the steps in your phone to add another Bluetooth device.

All the screen shots are below, with captions walking you through the process of pairing a speaker.

Amazon Echo Dot – Summary

The Echo Dot, by its own right is a stand alone product.  You have access to all of the features of Alexa. This includes all the music services and skills.  Once the Echo Dot was connected to my network, it was ready to go. Everything I had configured in the Alexa app was at my command.  I could see a lot of users who want the functionality of Alexa, but not another Bluetooth speaker make this purchase. Especially when you can pair it to the speaker or receiver of your choosing. Not to mention its a third of the cost.  In my smart home, it was great to have other areas where I could deliver voice commands with out having to yell down the hall.  The Echo Dot in the bedroom allows me to easily control my devices with my voice. I no longer have to use the voice remote or Alexa app.  The Echo Dot is a great way to widen the voice coverage. I may even provide one to each of my kids in their room come Christmas.

  • Setup – very simple. Plug in the Echo Dot, download the app, or visit the Alexa website and connect it to your WiFi. After that you can talk with Alexa and use it immediately.
  • Bluetooth  Performance –  A great feature being able to pair the Echo Dot to a Bluetooth speaker and still keeping the ability to pair with other mobile devices.
  • Music services – All of the bases covered here.  The Echo Dot once  With the momentum the Amazon Alexa skill program has, I am sure there will be more good things to come if there are any missing services. The ability to have all of your music at your request is a fantastic feature.
  • Home Automation – If you are looking to add voice control to your home automation scheme,  Alexa will do a great job. Its a good idea to check your devices and make sure your smart hub ( if you use one) or all your individual devices are supported by skills. The Amazon Echo Dot has great hardware for picking up voice. The Amazon Alexa skills kit has already boosted support for 3rd party devices and it will only grow.
  • App and website – You can control all of your Alexa enabled devices from the website, or the Alexa app. The fact that they have the same interface makes it even easier.
  • voice recognition – The voice recognition was second to none.  I was very pleased with how easy it was for me, my friends and children to use Alexa to answer questions, tell jokes and control our home.
  • Product compatibility – As the home automation market continues to expand Amazon had definitely put in place the ability to roll in future features with the Alexa skills feature.  I do hope they put some checks in place to insure that the Skills section doesn’t become another bloated app store with all kinds of skills that don’t provide value. What they will do is make it hard to find the ones you are looking for.  If they can keep the fluff under control, I think it will be a great system moving forward.
  • Connected Speakers – Now having an Amazon Echo and 2 Echo Dots in the home, I am really hoping that Amazon releases this feature. I would very much like to play music through all of them at the same time, in sync. Allowing me to fill the house with one soundtrack.  This would be great for entertaining, house cleaning, and any other time you might want music through out your home.

 

I have mentioned it a couple times, but hey, third time is the charm right?  The full Amazon Echo review is worth a read.  The Echo Dot delivers nothing short of a great performance following in the Echo line.  The voice control and functionality  are all the same. The only difference is the ability to connect speakers via a cable and Bluetooth. The internal speaker is OK for music, its sounds like most really small Bluetooth speakers do.  Connecting it to a larger system, opens up even more possibilities for sound quality.  I am sure there will be speaker bundles evey where.

 

Our Too Cool award indicates a product that impresses. To win this award a product should deliver good performance, good value, be reasonably easy to use and have a well thought out feature set.

Our Too Cool award indicates a product that impresses. To win this award a product should deliver good performance, good value, be reasonably easy to use and have a well thought out feature set.

Here at Smarter Home Automation, we are working to bring you reviews and information so you can make informed decisions about your home automation needs.  Keeping that mission statement in mind.  I would give the Echo Dot 4 stars.  It is a great way to bring Alexa into your home and use your voice to control your devices.   All things considered the Echo Dot gets the SHA  Too Cool Award!


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