Earlier this year, Amazon expanded its Echo product line to include the Echo Dot, the tiny sister of the big Echo speaker. And now, before the end of the year, the company has released a new, cheaper version of the Echo Dot. Let’s take a look at the similarities, differences, and when and where you would like to use each product.
What is an Amazon Echo Dot?
There is some confusion about what exactly is an Echo Dot. Is this an extension of Echo? Is it a completely independent product? What do you need to take full advantage of it? Even after reading the product documentation, we had many questions, just like everyone else.
The main difference between the echo and the Echo Dot is the speaker: the Echo Dot is essentially the top of the regular Amazon Echo without the bulky speaker underneath. Instead, the Echo Dot is designed to connect to a set of external speakers.
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If a loud speaker has disappeared, this does not mean that it is weakened. As we’ll see shortly, the trade-off is more than worth it, as it drops the price of the Echo platform from $180 for a full-size Echo to $50 for an Echo Dot. The price is almost 75% lower, but the functionality is almost 100% the same.
Also, all the features and commands that work with Amazon Echo work with Echo Dot: you can ask it questions like «What’s the news today?» (And even fine-tune the weather, traffic information, and sports updates to your liking.), you can ask it to play your music (even through Spotify) and even bombard it with questions about measurement conversions and story trivia.
How to set up Echo Dot?
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The installation process is identical to the original Echo. In fact, you can follow the step-by-step instructions of our Echo setup and setup guide here — just replace each instance of «Amazon Echo» with «Amazon Echo Dot».
The indicator ring still flashes orange when you connect it for the first time, you still need to connect to Dot to program it with your Wi-Fi credentials, and Alexa is still ridiculously fun throughout the process.
Do I need an Amazon Echo to use Hotspot?
The Echo Dot is a completely independent product in the Echo line. You don’t need any other Echo or Amazon product (like the Amazon Fire TV) to use the Echo Dot.
If you have Alexa-enabled devices like the original Echo, Echo Tap (Amazon battery powered Bluetooth echo), or Amazon Fire TV 2nd Gen, the Echo Dot just acts as another Alexa device in your home, so you get better coverage (both for commands and for features like music playback).
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Do I need Bluetooth speakers?
For questions about whether or not you need a full-size Echo to go with Dot, the biggest question is: what about a speaker? The removal of the large speaker is an immediately obvious change, but it’s less obvious that you can use Dot without an external speaker.
The Echo Dot speaker isn’t fantastic, but it’s comparable to the quality of a laptop speaker — meaning it’s a bit brutal and you really don’t want to use it as your primary music speaker. However, the speaker is perfect for things like getting feedback from Alex, listening to the news, waking you up in the morning with an alarm, and so on.
Luckily, there are two ways to improve the sound of the Echo Dot, neither of which are available to owners of the full-sized Echo: Bluetooth connection and a direct cable connection to your stereo system.
Unlike the Echo, you can pair the Echo Dot with Bluetooth speakers. The full size Echo allows you to connect to him devices With Bluetooth enabled, but don’t connect it to other speakers since Amazon suggests that the Echo is more than enough to get the job done. (And frankly, Amazon is right. The Echo is a great little speaker with rich sound.)
On the other hand, you can easily connect any Bluetooth speaker to the Echo Dot. Pairing with a quality speaker like the Nyne Bass means instant wireless and rich sound, but why limit yourself? The Echo Dot doesn’t recognize Bluetooth audio outputs, so you can connect a nice pair of Bluetooth headphones to them just as easily as you would speakers.
Even better than Bluetooth pairing, in our opinion, is the presence of a standard 3.5mm stereo jack on the back of the Echo Dot (a feature we really wish the Echo had included).
You may not have a premium Bluetooth speaker, but there’s a good chance you do have some kind of stereo system. Now, using the included stereo cable, you can connect the Echo Dot directly to any speaker or home stereo system.
However, this has one downside: if your stereo is set to a different input—for example, your TV instead of the Echo Dot—you won’t hear sound from the Echo Dot. Not even Alexa says «okay» or reads the weather to you — it will all go to your stereo, which doesn’t really make sense given how the dot is supposed to be used. I wish Alex’s voice would come through the built-in Dot speakers when plugged into the stereo, but it doesn’t, so you’ll have to figure out the best way to plug it into your home.
Does Echo Dot work with Echo Remote?
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Like the Echo, the Echo Dot is expandable with the Echo Remote — and it’s just as useful on the Dot as it is on the Echo. If your Echo Dot is connected to your living room stereo, you can run commands with the remote in the kitchen or upstairs (rather than yelling into another room).
In fact, the true advantage of the remote is the «Simon Says» feature. The remote control more than paid off in the entertainment value of trolling the kids in our house by talking to them through Alex in the kitchen.
Can you control SmartHome products with Echo Dot?
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Absolutely. Any smartphome product that you can control with Echo can just as easily be controlled with Echo Dot. Are your Philips Hue smart bulbs? No problem Smart thermostats? It’s easy too.
You can view the growing list of SmartHome products supported by the Alexa ecosystem on this Amazon support page to see if your products are currently compatible.
If I have an echo, should I get the echo point?
We are very impressed with the Echo Dot. In fact, we’re so impressed that we’re confident that the Echo Dot is not only the best choice of Echo products for everyone (even over the Echo itself) thanks to its «work with any speakers» functionality, but also that it’s a great addition for people who already own an Echo. .
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If you live in a studio apartment where every square inch of your living space is available for Echo, then no, you probably don’t need an Echo Dot on top of your current Echo. However, if you live in larger rooms, it makes sense to pick up an Echo Dot to extend the Alexa board in your home.
We will use our own house as an example. When we first got Echo, we put it in the kitchen. It’s centrally located, where most people are during the day, but that was a bit silly in a way, because both the living room and the den, straight from the kitchen, have great speakers. However, now we can connect the Echo Dot to the speakers at the bottom and move the Echo up, where we really need a high quality speaker. Your setup may be inverted from ours, but you’ll get the idea: The Echo Dot idea is a fantastic way to expand your Alexa system in a way that’s half the price of buying an extra Echo. and more versatile as you can stream the audio output from the Echo Dot to any speaker system (wireless or otherwise).
Echo was already a fantastic and popular product. We predict that the addition of the Echo Dot will further delight users with the Echo and Alexa range, and we have little doubt why: it’s inexpensive, just as functional, and offers even better sound reproduction options than the original Echo.