We had fun last year testing out the Fire TV 4K UHD stick with Alexa and the previous incarnation of the Amazon Echo Dot. After that latter device became a solid part of the household, and it really did, I was both intrigued over what the difference was with this new, 3rd Generation Echo Dot. In some ways, I don’t think the pictures do the upgrades full service and so – with that in mind – let’s break down how much it’s improved and why it’s worth your time and money.
So, why specifically the Echo Dot?
Sure, there are a whole host of choices in the Echo range (I’ll list those at the end) but it’s the Echo Dot because I’ve already got a wireless speaker system and wanted to connect the Echo Dot/Alexa (via the Phone App) into a whole system. While the older designs were smart, they’ve leapt forward and this all comes down to the speaker that’s integrated.
First up, some basics if you’re new to the game: The Amazon Echo Dot incorporates Alexa, she’s a cloud-based voice service who’s there to help with whatever you need. You can ask questions about pretty-much anything you want including the weather, finding out recipes, setting timers, play music if you’ve got an Amazon Music account, find out what’s on TV and so forth. If you’ve also got a ‘Smart Home’, that’s electronic devices connected to your heating or lighting, you can connect that up as well (Just check they’ve got the app) – And these are just things I tried!
If you also have Fire TV stick, you can connect and stream shows or films on your TV wirelessly and just by using your voice. You’ll need to download the app to your Smartphone, that’s easy on Apple or Android, and before you know it Alexa is go and ready to offer you a whole host of television shows, movies, music and more. Initially, I’d recommend asking her anything; just say the call word “Alexa…” and you’ll see the blue light ring activate – this also tells you you’re connected to the internet – and then ask your question. This helps get a sense of what you’re dealing with and how she answers, have no fear!
What makes the new Echo Dot 3rd Gen impressive is its improved far-field voice recognition with four little microphones to pick up what you’re asking. You might also remember I mentioned that I already had my own wireless speaker? Well, that connects simple, just follow the instructions you’ll hear and it’ll be working pretty quickly. If you fancy it, you can connect the speaker via Alexa and she’ll respond ‘through’ that, or she can just do it through the Echo Dot itself. Also, as I use Amazon Music, the new speaker is a HUGE benefit and miles ahead of what’s gone before.
This comes down to the aforementioned far-field microphones and the built-in speaker which might only be 1.6” but it’s a powerful little beast. There’s also a 3.5 mm stereo audio output for use with external speakers, if you fancy it. The Echo Dot is also compatible with Echo devices if you’ve got a few, say in different rooms, so you can connect and let the music flow out everywhere!
For me, Alexa is still superior to the likes of Siri as an A.I. and more, dare I say, perceptive. They say she’s learning all the time so even with this new version, expect to see even better changes as it moves forward.
What do I need to set it up?
You’ll need to plug it into the wall but that comes with it and, compared to the old ones, is far more robust. You also need an internet connection and just the slightest desire to explore some exciting new tech and its endless positive possibilities. Also, did you know, you can connect to family or friends Amazon Echo’s and use it like a phone, which is pretty cool, and obviously can only be done if they/you allow it.
I think this comes down to what you think about technology and its usefulness in these ever-changing days. You can use the Echo as much, or as little, as you wish. I think we were somewhat addicted to just trying out how Alexa and the device could be of assistance, so the one downside might be succumbing to laziness. But it’s also SO helpful and genuinely stress-free to use.
Sometimes she can mishear, can’t we all, and she’ll go off on a ramble as her answer but you can quickly 1: Tell her to ‘stop’ immediately and 2: it’s very rare in my experience. The most entertaining part of this device is when she thinks she hears her name when the TV is on, from this the worst thing that can happen is you’ll get an answer to a question you never asked. It’s very rare though.
So, should I buy one?
If you were coming here for second opinion on whether you want to pick one up, and after constant use in 2019, I’d say go for it. Although I’m not fearful of new tech, see my thoughts here on Yamaha wireless soundbars and speakers, I wasn’t sure what the 3rd Generation would offer differently but it’s all about THAT speaker and it’s much more impressive response time that makes this an easy upgrade.
The Echo Dot 3rd Generation is a huge step forward for the tech and it, once again, covers everything I thought I needed it for. So impressed – Buy it here – Currently on offer for £29.99: https://amzn.to/2pDvKyt
By the way, the Echo Dot is the cheapest of the range, there’s also these available if you’ve got cash burning a hole in your pocket. Each one has something extra as you move up the market, click the links below for more info…
- Echo Dot https://amzn.to/2GkITq1
- Echo https://amzn.to/2IT8bcW
- Echo Plus https://amzn.to/2TtGVa4
- Echo Spot (with screen) https://amzn.to/2pFDhfD
- All-new Echo Show https://amzn.to/2GrEe5L