There are a lot of smart audio speakers on the market with more expected to launch in the near future. These speakers, which come in many sizes, can help you shop, let you listen to your favorite artists, and even turn on your lights — all controlled through simple voice commands.
Every home is different, of course. But despite the enormous number of options out there, the tiny black or white Amazon Echo Dot may be the only smart speaker you’ll ever need. Don’t believe us? Here’s why.
Amazon Echo Dot’s Size and Price
The world is full of beautiful audio speakers for the home. However, for the most part, speakers are made to be hidden in a kitchen nook, behind a television, or in the corner of your bedroom. With this in mind, the 32mm x 84mm x 84mm Amazon Echo can fit neatly anywhere in a home, as long as there’s an electrical cord nearby.
In other words, plug it in and forget about it. Another advantage: At just 0.36 pounds, the Amazon Echo Dot is also easy to move around your home.
And then there’s the price. The Echo Dot is incredibly affordable compared to most models, and Amazon is notorious for discounting products in its Echo lineup often. For the Echo Dot, these savings usually range from between $10 and $20. Amazon usually extends these discounts to its retail partners including Best Buy and Target.
When? It’s been my experience that discounts on Amazon’s Echo devices typically run ahead of major U.S. holidays. For added incentive, Amazon also usually offers discounts when you buy three Echo Dot units at a time.
At any of these price points, the Echo Dot is an impulse purchase for most folks. Coupled with its small size, the device can serve as a quick addition to any room in your home.
Listening to Music With the Amazon Echo Dot
The Amazon Echo Dot offers a good but not great listening experience. But honestly, at its price point, I’m not sure this matters. The internal speaker is suitable for listening to your favorite tunes or the latest episode of your favorite podcast.
If you’re looking for better sound, the device can directly connect to other speakers using a 3.5mm stereo cable, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi connection. The device is also compatible with Bluetooth wireless headphones. For added flexibility, you can even make the Echo Dot wireless by adding it to a Vaux speaker or similar device.
Additionally, thanks to multi-room music support, you can play music across multiple Echo devices with ease. Compatible music services at the time of this writing include Amazon Music Unlimited, Prime Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, and some third-party providers such as TuneIn and iHeartRadio.
Amazon Echo Dot’s Dirty Little Secret
It wasn’t that long ago when Amazon only offered two Alexa-based smart speakers, the original Echo and the Echo Dot. However, the online commerce giant now sells six smart speakers (not including the growing number of third-party products with Alexa capabilities built-in).
Despite the growing Echo device lineup, there’s a significant point worth considering. If you just want a voice-activated Echo device to play music, answer questions, and help you place orders from Amazon.com, the Echo Dot is the most practical choice. The others are only beneficial if you’re looking for features that expand beyond the basics. Not surprisingly, those extra features increase the price of the device.
The Echo Spot and Echo Show, for example, offer video compatibilities, while the Echo Look is for fashion-savvy users. Both the current generation Echo and Echo Plus provide a better sound experience than the Echo Dot, while the latter adds a smart hub to the mix.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with buying any of these devices, of course. In fact, the original Echo still plays a prominent role in my home. However, there’s little to reason to buy one of these for every room in your house as it’s overkill and a more expensive solution.
Amazon Echo Dot vs. Google Home Mini
The Amazon Echo Dot isn’t the only small smart speaker on the market. In late 2017, Google introduced the 98mm by 42mm Home Mini for the first time.
In a similar price range, the Google Home Mini is every bit as compact as the Echo Dot and serves as an essential member of the growing Google Home lineup of smart speakers. With that being said, there’s little reason to make a switch if you’re already immersed in the Amazon Echo ecosystem.
If you’re new to smart speakers, there’s a fundamental reason why you should select the Echo Dot over the Google Home Mini: Amazon Skills.
Amazon Echo devices are already smart out of the box. However, you can quickly add extra abilities and functionalities using Amazon Skills. You can find new skills by visiting the Alexa Skills page on Amazon.com, or by opening the Alexa app on your phone and choosing Skills from the menu. Just select a skill and click Enable to add it to your Echo. It’s that simple.
Since launching in 2016, Google Home is also getting smarter thanks to its growing list of apps and partners. Nonetheless, at least for now, the Amazon Alexa universe is much more extensive, an important point to keep in mind.
Choosing a Smart Speaker
Smart speakers are emerging as one of the most important tech products of this decade. Led by Amazon, these smart speakers have many uses that go beyond letting you stream music. You can also use them to answer important (and trivial) questions, shop, and more.
Because of its price and size, the Amazon Echo Dot is an ideal choice whether you’re entering into the world of smart speakers for the first time, or expanding your smart speaker footprint beyond one device.
How do you use the Amazon Echo Dot in your home? Let us know below.