Disclamer: Product provided by Amazon for reviewing purposes.
Amazon Alexa Dot is a low-end smart speaker from Amazon that has all the smart capabilities of its much expensive speakers but cuts down on the speaker quality. At one of the cheapest smart speaker available from a big brand company, is it worth it to have one in your house and risk the privacy of your surrounding?
The smart speaker was set up by the Alexa app on your smartphone where it prompted me to connect an Amazon account with the speaker so that it can transfer over settings and data related to my account, such as my purchases, gift cards, movies I’ve seen on amazon prime, etc. Any data that is viewable to the user on the website, the speaker can retrieve it. After I finished the setup, I browsed the app to download skills which Alexa can learn. These skills are what allows the Alexa to perform tasks. Some of the skills I have downloaded are sounds to play like rain or thunderstorm when falling asleep, a skill to connect Alexa to my Eques Smart Plug, which I reviewed here. Majority of the skills seem like a gimmick that won’t be used every day since Alexa already comes bundled with a lot of them. However, there are some unique ones such as Jeopardy or having Alexa read you a bed-time story. It’s a speaker that can keep you entertained. Another feature of the Alexa is that it allows you to set routines, which are mostly a bundle of skills that are triggered at the same on a single command. So I have a morning routine which tells me the weather, an important news story, and directions to work. It’s a neat feature, but I always forget to use it every morning until I remember later on in my day. However, with smart plugs, you can set routines to control all lights at once, such as turning them off in the morning.
The user interface on the app for Alexa is horrendous. The most important page on the app, skills, and games, is tucked away in a sidebar menu which makes it sort of a hassle to get it to, often just turning me away from the app. The reminder and to-do list is also tucked away and is even more challenging to access on the web using your laptop because you have to use the Amazon website. The app lets you see which devices you have connected, and you can group them into categories based on which room they’re placed in. The app also lets you use Alexa as a voice assistant on your phone. However, I didn’t find it much useful because I would never remember to use it and instead relied on what came with my phone, Siri. I only ever use the app to add skills, and that’s it.
While I would’ve liked to start using the todo list and reminders from Amazon, the flawed design on the app and the website will keep me away from it for a very long time, which sucks because Alexa is great at recognizing the voice and would pick up better than Siri. Even while talking fastly Alexa is able to pick up my command about 80% of the times.
My biggest complaint with this device is the speaker quality. The speaker is sub-par with other Bluetooth speakers in this price range. For a big brand name like Amazon, I expected better condition than other companies in the price range. However, I was let down. This is a clear indication that Amazon has focused more of its resources into the smart aspect of Echo Dot, rather than the speaker, compared to Apple where they have focused more on the speaker when building than the smart functionalities of it.
It can get loud; however, it makes you want to turn it down as there is practically no bass on this device, which ended up ruining pretty much all the songs I was listening to. Alexa’s sound is also a bit muffled compared to Siri on my phone. Though not an issue, it does make me pause and think as to what Alexa just said. I also constantly had to adjust the volume because sometimes it got too loud, but other times too quiet, but that may be an anecdotal case. It’s still better than listening to songs through a phone’s speaker. Voice calling is also very clear through the speaker, and it doesn’t block your phone, meaning that you can issue a call through Alexa and continue watching Youtube on your phone. You cannot however take two phone calls at the same time, your phone needs to be free for Alexa to place a call.
The Echo Dot 3rd Generation for me is a novelty rather than a breakthrough product everyone needs inside their house. It is a much more viable option if you live in a smart home where everything is connected to the internet and can be controlled with your voice; however for me, that is not that case. I don’t find myself saying “Alexa turn the lights on” or “Alexa heat up the stove” because I don’t have the supporting devices, main the Alexa Smart Plug.
Its the cheapest of the Alexa devices out there, with the average cost being $25. It is better than its predecessor, Echo Dot 2nd Generation, both in sound quality and looks. It now matches the exterior of its expensive counterpart, the regular Echo.
If you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker, then I don’t recommend this either. I’d suggest looking elsewhere or even spending a little more for a much better product in return. It’s hard to say who this device is for, but if you have a lot of smart devices that can be paired with Alexa, the Echo Dot is a great hub to control them all at once. It may shine if you buy multiple Echo Dots and create a surround sound system, but at that point, just get the $100 Echo speaker, or even a HomePod.