Smart speakers are the quintessential device in modern-day homes. Packed with tons of capabilities and features, smart speakers are quite useful and handy to have around your home and is one of the first things to get when you want to “tech-out” your home. There are many great options on the market, but one voice assistant has become very well-known—Alexa. The Amazon Echo Dot is one of the affordable smart speakers on the market with built-in Alexa. You can even score one for free with a purchase of a set of eero mesh wifi routers which I have written about here. Or, if you’re patient enough, Amazon occasionally has deals for the Echo Dot (for 99¢) when you subscribe to their music streaming subscription.
Having the Echo Dot for a while now, I still learn about new features and capabilities everyday. Sure, it can control some smart home systems like Philips Hue bulbs, smart plugs, smart thermostats, or smart garage openers; but it also has many other features and capabilities as well. So far I’ve used it for its general purposes like setting alarms, asking questions, playing music, and controlling smart plugs. But, the Echo Dot can do more to really wring out your money’s worth. The Echo Dot essentially works along side an Alexa app that you’d download, and with it comes with discoverable features that you can explore and try out. Having an Echo Dot also enables you to make free calls to your friends and family with an Alexa device as well. You can also use the device as an intercom; say you’re on your way home from grabbing dinner for your family and would like to let them know. You can pull up the Alexa app on your phone and announce your message which will be played through the Echo Dot that’s sitting somewhere around your home.
Among other features of the Echo Dot, you can ask it for the recent news or even get some workout sessions by using it as your work out coach with its “7 minute workout” feature. It’ll guide you through some simple exercises and if you happen to not know how to do an exercise, you can pull up the Alexa app and it’ll show you.
Depending where you want your Echo Dot to be, the Echo Dot can also serve as a cooking timer or even help you find recipes and do conversions for you. There are literally tons of features, which Amazon calls “skills”, packed in the device that you can explore. In fact, there is even a dedicated “skill” that finds and proposes new Alexa skills to you. You could also train Alexa to do more along side some minor customizations in the Alexa app.
If you have any smart systems in your home, like a Ring security camera, the Echo Dot can serve as a sound detector where it will alert you if it detects the sound of breaking glass, etc. when you are away from home.
There is also the fun side of Alexa in which you can play games like Jeopardy, song quiz, etc. that can keep you and your friends entertained.
Having personally used the Echo Dot as an alarm clock for quite some time, I think that it’s quite “iffy.” The downside to the Echo Dot as an alarm clock is that to snooze or turn the alarm off, you’d have to speak to it, which isn’t ideal in my opinion as speaking in the morning takes quite an effort…
Aside from no snooze button on the Echo Dot (without clock), other physical downsides include the outer material as it is cloth-like and is quite difficult to clean if it ever gets dirty.
Overall, I think the Echo Dot has a good value especially if you can get one for cheap or even for free. You can even use it as just a remote/Bluetooth speaker as its sound quality is really decent as well. If you’re still interested in the Echo Dot, check it out here.