The world seems to move a little faster each day. There’s more to manage and less time to do it. A personal assistant that tends to our every need, from reminding us of essential tasks to creating the ideal environment, is becoming more crucial. Not only does relieving that burden give us more time for friends and family, but it also reduces stress.
Amazon has a solution. The company’s popular smart speaker can do all that and more. According to Amazon, the purpose of the Echo 4th gen is to “make your life easier at home.” It “has a sleek, compact design that fits perfectly into small spaces” and “Alexa can help kids learn and grow,” all while protecting your family’s privacy.
This sounded like a perfect way to help manage life and reduce stress, so we tested the Amazon Echo (4th gen), and here’s what we found.
To test this Amazon Echo device, we had a member of our review team set up the Alexa speaker according to the instructions. They used it for a week, learning how well the device fits into their life. Our tester primarily used the Echo Dot as an alarm and a music player, but they also took time to delve deeper and explore the many features this product had to offer.
On the surface, the 4th generation Echo Dot is a small globe with an illuminated clock on the front. It is a sleek, modern-looking device with four input buttons on the top that let you control various features with just a tap. The device listens to and interacts with any individual within earshot who desires assistance.
Streaming music throughout the day and being in complete control of song selection and volume were the primary reasons for our interest in this device. However, after just a brief period of experimenting, we found the Echo had many more capabilities than other smart speakers we have tested. It has an impressive response, unique privacy features and a robust sound, especially when you consider its small size.
The basic Echo Dot with Clock (4th Gen) is available for $59.99. If you prefer to purchase a special edition with a “The Mandalorian” Grogu-inspired stand, that will cost $84.94. You can buy the Echo Dot (4th Gen) at Amazon, Home Depot, Kohl’s and Staples.
The Echo Dot arrives in a small blue box with the power cord and instructions at the bottom. It was very easy to set up. After plugging in the device, Alexa instructs you to download the app. The app walks you through the entire setup process, which takes less than five minutes to complete. However, if you do not already have an Amazon account, it will take a little longer.
To control the device, all you need to do is speak. Alexa understood all of our commands on the first try. And the audio quality of the unit, whether listening to music, communicating with Alexa or taking a call, was impressive. There is clarity and depth that makes using the product highly enjoyable. Though, we should note that the sound quality diminishes slightly as the volume increases.
As far as the alarm clock capabilities go, they were very impressive. We had never set an alarm using our voice before, so it was a new experience. The unit has a wide variety of alarm sounds that are much less stressful to wake up to than the typical blaring noises. Plus, you can add custom sounds or set up a morning routine, so Alexa reads the morning news or gives you a weather report when you wake.
Setting up the Echo Dot is easy and intuitive, even if you’re a little intimidated by tech. We love that it is so multifunctional and sized to fit nearly anywhere. We never experienced a performance glitch during our trial period, and the sound quality was excellent. If you have a smart home, this little device can serve as your smart hub. In general, the Echo Dot simplifies your life.
The biggest drawback we found when using this smart speaker is that you must plug it in for it to work. If it had a battery, it would be perfect. However, by no means is this a dealbreaker. Other users have commented that the device occasionally loses connection or freezes. Still, since we experienced none of those problems, we think most of those issues involved inadequate Wi-Fi (where the device is placed) or slow service.
The Amazon Echo Dot with clock (4th gen) is one of those rare products that can benefit nearly anyone. It is affordable enough to fit in most budgets and flexible enough to be of value in various situations. You could use it in your bedroom, office, living room and more. Doctors and other professionals can even put this smart speaker in their waiting room to help create a more engaging experience for their patients and clients.
If you prefer a high-end model from a company known for its quality audio, this Bose smart speaker is a solid option. It can fill a room with wall-to-wall stereo and it works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Sold by Amazon
If you are a fan of Apple, Sonos is a good option. You can use AirPlay2 and Siri to have an effortless streaming experience. The high-quality smart speaker can stream from Amazon Music, Audible, Pandora, Spotify and TIDAL, and also features built-in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Sold by Sonos
If you’d like a smart hub with even more capabilities, consider the Echo Show 8. This device lets you make video calls, stream movies and keep track of your schedule so you never miss an event, appointment or meeting again.
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.