Should You Get The Echo Dot – An Echo Dot Review
Anything that can make our life easier is a welcome thing in our high paced and high tech world, and that’s why home automation products are becoming ever more popular. To run these things though you’ll need help in the form of a hub, such as Wink or SmartThings, and even better a personal assistant that then communicates with that hub via your voice commands. That’s where Amazon’s Echo Dot (Alexa), Google Home and Apple’s Smart Home come in, they take your voice command and make it so.
Although these high tech digital personal assistants sound like a great idea to have, even a fun one, are they? Or are they a waste of money until they get smarter? In this review we’re checking that out by testing out the personal assistant made by Amazon, it’s called the Amazon Echo and the assistant that will be assisting you is called, Alexa.
Echo Dot Design and Setup
Before we get into what all the Echo or Alexa can or cannot do, let’s consider how it works in general. It comes nicely packaged as do all Amazon products. The Echo Dot comes in white or black and is well made, even quite heavy for its size and won’t easily fall off any furniture. It has to stay plugged in to be used and for some that’s not great, but it is small and moves anywhere easily. When calling out to Alexa with the Dot she can hear you for about 15 feet well, from what we tested, anything past that, especially with a television on will have errors.
Setting up your the Echo Dot is really very simple. You just plug it into an outlet and download the Alexa app for your smartphone. Add her to your WiFi and she’s pretty much ready to go, and she’ll even tell you so.
For connecting your smart home products to it you will either download the app for the item or connect through the hub you’ll be using and follow the directions for installing them with your Echo unit. It’s usually pretty problem free, although some do complain that they have to call Amazon customer service to get some interfaces to work with it.
For our test we connected and tested it with the SmartThings hub and the Sylvania Lightify smart bulbs by Osram. Both were very simple to add, simply went to Skills, found the Osram skill app, or SmartThings, and followed the quick steps to get it connected. It took all of 3-4 minutes to setup our living room lamps with Alexa and then have her dim or shut them down completely.
Setup with your bluetooth speaker or smartphone is even easier, you just place the Echo Dot within a few feet of the speaker and put them both in pair mode. For Alexa you tell her to pair and she will do so. With your phone, go to bluetooth setting and tell Alexa to pair with your iPhone and when you see her pop up in your settings, click connect. When connected to your phone the only access will be to play music and some other basic functionality. Alexa cannot use your phone to text or make calls for you, which we go over in our next section on page 2.
As far as what you can call your Echo assistant, you can do this during setup as well. The assigned default name is Alexa and with each question or command you start out with her name. The name can be changed within the app however, and the name choices other than Alexa include, Echo or Amazon. Perhaps one day they’ll let us choose a name, but for now those are the choices and if you watch television a lot you may want to choose one of the alternates because the commercials for the Echo Dot come on a lot or it’ll be included in a tv show and your Dot will respond at times when it hears its name with an, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that,” or something similar.
This is not the end of our Amazon Echo Dot review. To find out more about what Alexa can and cannot do, continue on to page 2 and page 3. Page 4 will give you our final opinion on whether or not the Echo Dot is for you.