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Is the Amazon Echo Dot worth it?

What makes the Amazon Echo Dot stand out?

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.

History of voice assistants

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.

What is an Echo Dot?

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.

difference between Echo Dot and Alexa

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.

What can you do with an Echo Dot?

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.

  • Since the Echo Dot is first and foremost a speaker, you can use it to stream music from your favorite music service.
  • You can use an Echo Dot to make a hands-free call.
  • An Echo Dot can give you the day’s news or weather.
  • If you need help in the kitchen, the Echo Dot can offer cooking tips, recipes and even function as a timer.
  • An Echo Dot can keep track of your to-do list and send you alerts and reminders to make sure you stay organized.
  • If you ever get bored, an Echo Dot can be used for entertainment such as playing trivia games, telling jokes, playing team games and more.
  • You can use your Echo Dot to help keep you healthy.
  • An Echo Dot can be used to control other devices in your smart home, including turning lights on and off, setting the thermostat and locking the doors.
  • Your Echo Dot can function as an alarm clock.
  • You can use your Echo Dot to shop by voice by simply saying something like, “Alexa, add toothpaste to my cart.”

What are Alexa Skills?

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.

What’s the newest Echo Dot?

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.

Echo Dots and other Amazon voice assistant options

Echo Dot with Clock (4th Gen)

This is the newest model of Amazon’s most popular smart speaker with Alexa. It features an LED time display. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Kohl’s and Staples

Echo Dot (4th Gen)

If you don’t desire an LED time display, you can save a little money by purchasing this version of the Echo Dot.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s and Staples

Echo Dot Kids (4th Gen)

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.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Kohl’s and Staples

Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

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. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s and Staples

Echo (4th Gen)

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.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Kohl’s and Staples

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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