Amazon Echo Dot is a smart speaker with native integration to Amazon Alexa, allowing users to control the smart speaker using voice instructions. Even though I had other devices with Google Assistant and Siri at home for quite some time, I was never interested to try Alexa. Mostly because most things I can do with voice command can be achieved faster by pulling my phone out of pocket and just do what I need to do. There is never a proper use case that requires me to do something by voice.
Then how do I end up with Amazon Echo Dot 3rd gen smart speaker? Well, I was not in the market for smart speaker, but I was casually looking for a small Bluetooth speaker that has no battery. Yes, you read that right. I actually want a device that must be connected to AC power at all time. Sure, Bluetooth speakers with battery are nice and convenient. But as years go by, the battery would fail before the speaker, and I had to replace perfectly good speaker because the battery refuses to turn on any more.
Echo Dot was not even in my short list when I was in the market for new Bluetooth speaker. The normal price (AUD 59 = USD 42.27) is enough to steer me away from such a tiny speaker. However, when I found time-limited promo to get this thing for $9 (AUD 9 = USD 6.45) brand new from Amazon, then it was a price I am happy to spend for a little experiment. So here I am with a tiny speaker that I can talk to, for a price I could not refuse.
First thing first, this speaker looks awesome for a $9 device. It is sturdy and heavy for its size (296 gr, to be exact). There are 4 buttons at the top: volume up, volume down, action and mic toggle. At the back, we can find charging port and 3.5 mm audio output. The light ring at the top makes colourful pattern to show different status of the speaker. It looks great until I turn off the speaker microphone (do not want any microphone in my bedroom) there is no way to turn off the light ring shining bright red.
Ideally, this speaker is designed to play music from streaming services (Amazin Music, Spotify, Apple Music). However, for those prefer to listen to music from local file, Bluetooth connection is available for use.
Bluetooth connection is easy to set up and reasonably stable. Sound quality is… let’s say decent. It does not compete with my HomePod mini or Sonos One, but it gets the job done for its purpose as bedtime music for the little one. Low volume music is clear and enjoyable, as long as we set our expectations right in the first place.
Alexa picks up my voice command reasonably well. It is still not the natural conversation that I was hoping from a digital assistant, but probably I set the bar too high. If anything, one thing that Google Assistant and Siri could learn (or copy) from Alexa is its huge library of install-able skills. Instead of offering everything for everyone, Alexa allows people to pick and choose things that matter for them, and that is a good thing. A skill called “Pikachu Talk”, for example, kept my son busy for quite some time :)
Overall, I definitely would not buy this at its retail price. But for a $9 speaker, this speaker offers decent experience and sound quality. As long as you do not mind the bright light ring, of course.