If you’re considering a voice assistant, current projections state that in a few years, the number of smart devices with voice assistants will be greater than the global population. This means you have a lot of options available when purchasing one.
Amazon Echo Dot stands out from other options because it’s a dedicated yet versatile device that’s compact and affordable. It can either function on its own or be integrated into a smart home network. The Amazon Echo Dot is equally suitable for a dorm, a bedroom or a home.
The first digital speech recognition tool was invented in the mid-1900s, but it took until the 1980s for software, such as Dragon, to recognize the spoken word well enough to turn it into comprehensible text. Siri was integrated into the iPhone 4S in 2011 and Alexa was available on the Amazon Echo in 2014. A couple years later, Amazon released the first Echo Dot, which was basically the top portion of the Echo. The diminutive device ushered in a smart speaker revolution with major tech companies scrambling to release their own voice assistant or finding ways to incorporate existing voice assistants into current technology.
An Amazon Echo Dot is a smart speaker. This means it’s a speaker that connects to your home Wi-Fi network. Once connected to your home Wi-Fi network, the Echo Dot has access to the internet. In many ways, it’s similar to using a computer to access the internet, only instead of a keyboard, you use your voice.
As for the nuts and bolts of an Echo Dot, the two main parts are a microphone (to listen) and a speaker (to broadcast). Also, there is a processor, memory and other various components that allow the Echo Dot to do what it needs to do. There are four buttons on top of the device for quick manual control: volume up, volume down, an action button and a mic-off button.
There’s only one Alexa. Alexa is Amazon’s voice AI that resides in the cloud. Wherever there is internet access, you can connect with Alexa. The Echo Dot, on the other hand, is one of the many devices that can be used to connect with Alexa.
The Echo Dot can be used as a quick, hands-free way to access Alexa. Once connected, there are very few limits to the things you can do. Following are some examples of what an Echo Dot is capable of doing.
Straight out of the box, an Echo Dot can perform an extraordinary amount of tasks. However, there’s always something new you’re going to wish it could do. That’s where Alexa Skills come in. Alexa Skills are like apps for your smartphone — they’re created by developers from third-party companies to allow you to perform a greater variety of tasks. While all Alexa Skills are free to download and use, some may require a subscription to unlock the Skill’s full potential.
Each new version of the Echo Dot is designated as a new generation. The first Echo Dot was shaped like a hockey puck and it came out in 2016. While the 2nd generation and the 3rd generations also featured the same basic shape, the latest model looks a little different. The Amazon Echo Dot 4th generation is a sphere. One of the benefits of having this redesigned shape is the speaker has a forward-facing position for better directing the sound.
This is the newest model of Amazon’s most popular smart speaker with Alexa. It features an LED time display.
If you don’t desire an LED time display, you can save a little money by purchasing this version of the Echo Dot.
This is the kid-friendly version of the Echo Dot. It’s available in either a tiger or a panda design. While this is designated for kids, it’s not a toy and it features all the functionality of the Echo Dot with parental controls.
For people who’ll be happy with the previous model, this is the Amazon smart speaker to get. It offers virtually all the same features as the newer models but the speaker is facing up and it doesn’t perform as well at higher volumes. However, it’s available for a significantly lower price.
This is the full-size version of the Echo Dot. It’s recommended for those who want the best-sounding smart speaker in Amazon’s line.
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.