Amazon Echo’s baby sister is making loud noise in a small package
The Amazon Echo Dot is a smart speaker that packs all the technology and functionality of the original Echo into a smaller package. It’s Amazon’s best-selling smart speaker, primarily due to its low entry cost.
Dot provides access to the Amazon virtual assistant Alexa, which plays music, creates shopping lists, provides weather reports, and a lot more. The built-in speaker isn’t as good as the Echo, but the audio jack makes it easy to plug the Dot into any external speaker.
What Is the Dot?
At a basic level, the Dot is a speaker, some microphones, and other computer hardware built into a compact form factor.
Previous versions of the Dot were about the size of a fat hockey puck and available in a limited variety of fabric colors. That still holds mostly true but now the Dot has a completely new look with rounded edges and a fabric surround. It kind of looks like a tiny bowling ball these days.
This Echo Dot comes with a clock in the form of a small LED display located behind the Dot mesh front. The screen tells the time and displays other information such as the current temperature when you ask Alexa for it.
How Does the Dot Work?
Despite its smaller size and price tag, the Dot does most everything that the original Echo does. The Dot plays music from compatible services, provides news briefs, gives a weather report, and more.
Dot is designed around the Amazon virtual assistant Alexa, and everything is handled by voice commands. Dot is always listening for a wake word, which is Alexa by default. It records anything it hears after that for processing in the cloud. There’s no noticeable lag during this process, so talking to the Dot is almost like talking to a real assistant.
While there are privacy concerns surrounding the issue of Alexa spying on users, the device data is transparent. You can view and listen to recordings from the Alexa app or by accessing your Amazon account online, and these records can be deleted.
Is Echo Dot Wireless?
The Dot must be plugged into an electrical source to work, so technically it is not ‘wireless’ from that perspective. However, technically it is considered a wireless device because it works on Wi-Fi networks, and is Zigbee- and Bluetooth-compatible.
The term ‘wireless’ refers to any kind of equipment that doesn’t require a physical wire to relay information to another device.
How Is the Dot Different From the Echo?
The main differences between the Dot and the Echo are size and price. The Dot is smaller, and the associated price tag is more affordable. Most of the functionality is the same, and speaker quality is the biggest technical factor that differentiates the devices.
The Echo includes a 3″ woofer and dual front-firing .8″ tweeters, with Dolby technology; the Dot has a single speaker. It isn’t well suited to filling a large space with rich sound, and it can’t touch the bass response of the Echo.
The other noticeable difference, in terms of hardware, is that the Dot includes a 3.5 mm audio jack that’s out only, while the Echo has a 3.5 mm jack that’s both in and out.
Echo Dot Kids Edition
The kid-friendly version of Dot puts parents in control and prevents children from ordering toys, buying candy, or accessing inappropriate material. The hardware is the same, but the Echo Dot Kids Edition is a safer experience for small children.
The Echo Dot Kids Edition comes with a Dot, a colorful protective case, and a one-year subscription to the Amazon FreeTime Unlimited app for up to four kids.
FreeTime Unlimited provides access to books for kids that Dot reads out loud. If your kid has a Kindle Fire, they can use the service to watch free movies and TV shows and play free games.
In addition to one year of FreeTime Unlimited, the kid-friendly version of Dot comes with voice shopping disabled and automatically filters out inappropriate content when used with Amazon Music. Parents are provided with powerful tools to control exactly when, and how, their children are able to interact with their Dot.
Parents can also install and activate age-appropriate Alexa skills, allow their kids to control specific smart devices like light switches, and more.
Who Needs a Dot?
Since the Dot doesn’t have a great built-in speaker, it’s a good choice for anyone who has a high-quality Bluetooth portable speaker. Speaker quality may be a non-issue for anyone who wants the Alexa virtual assistant functionality and doesn’t listen to music.
Due to the way that far-field voice recognition works, if you have an Echo in your living room, use a Dot to extend Alexa functionality into a bedroom, office, game room, bathroom, or other space.
What is a smart plug for Echo Dot?
An Alexa-compatible smart plug, such as Amazon Smart Plug, enables you to control devices such as lights, fans, or coffee makers with your voice or Alexa routines. When you connect a device to a smart plug, you can access it using your Echo Dot or other Alexa device.
What is the Action button on Echo Dot?
There are four buttons on an Echo Dot: Action, Microphone, Volume Up, and Volume Down. The Action button is either a circle or a dot. You can press it to “wake” Alexa, silence alarms, or put the device into setup mode.
What generation is my Echo Dot?
You can tell what generation your Echo Dot is by its appearance. The first-generation Echo Dot is a thick, black, puck-shaped speaker with a rotating volume ring and two buttons. The second-generation Dot is not as thick as the original and comes in black and white. Third-generation Dots have fabric speaker covers in charcoal, heather gray, sandstone, and plum and can also include a digital clock.