Echo Dot (2nd Generation) Complete Review
The Amazon Echo Dot 2nd Generation is a voice-controlled smart home speaker. It is a successor to the incredibly successful Amazon Echo Dot which was a follow-up to the original Amazon Echo smart speaker. Like the earlier devices, the new Echo Dot can be commanded with your voice. Simply say Alexa, Echo, Amazon or Computer and it’ll wake up. From booking cabs to playing music, checking the weather to dimming your living room lights, the Echo Dot can perform a wide range of tasks. It can make calls and send text and voice messages hand-free, order stuff online and even tell jokes. The 2nd Generation Echo Dot is far more affordable, user-friendly and rich in features than its predecessors. Amazon aims to get its smart voice assistant in as many homes as it can. Ubiquity – that’s the ultimate goal. The idea is to make the new Echo Dot more accessible to the general populace by offering it at attractively low prices across continents as a result the 2nd Generation Echo Dot is selling like hot cakes. And if you buy six at a time, you get a further discount. This has made the Echo Dot extremely popular. In fact, people are opting for multiple devices, creating virtual Echo networks in their homes. This offers the comfort of issuing commands from wherever they are, without having to walk to the room where the Echo Dot is. The new Echo Dot has all the capabilities of Alexa, Amazon’s could-connected voice-enabled smart home assistant. Plus, it has a burgeoning reservoir of third party voice apps called skills. Skills enable the Echo family of voice assistants to work with appliances like smart lights, smart thermostats, etc and services like music streaming, transport, etc. Amazon has been actively partnering with a large number of brands to develop skills so that their products and services can be accessed via voice commands through Echo devices. For instance, Amazon does not manufacture thermostats. But you can regulate smart thermostats by Honeywell, Ecobee and Nest using an Echo. Similarly, an Echo can book an Uber using the Uber skill and order a Domino’s pizza using the Domino’s skill. The 2nd generation Echo Dot has thousands of skills at its disposal and the list is constantly growing. The inclusion of each new skill, makes the device smarter and more useful. The Echo Dot can also serve as your personal assistant, taking notes, making to-do lists and reminding you about your appointments.
Let us take a deep dive to Echo Dot features and find out what makes it so special :
How the Amazon Echo Dot 2nd Generation uses Alexa ?
Alexa is Amazon’s intelligent web-connected voice assistant. It is the real product Amazon is selling. All of Amazon devices like Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Dot 2nd Generation, Tap, Echo Show, Echo Look, Amazon Fire TV and Dash Wand are nothing but gadgets made to access and use Alexa. They function as access points to Alexa’s cloud-powered platform and help you interact with her to avail of her services. You can ask Alexa just about anything. She will scour the web and find the most appropriate answer to your question. The smart assistant taps into the endless reserves of the internet to come up with the exact information you want. Alexa understands natural language and different accents. She is also capable of contextual reasoning and basic math calculations. For example if you say, “Alexa, how many times 28 is 44?” she will promptly give you the correct answer. The best thing about Alexa is that the more you interact with her, the smarter she gets. Alexa constantly upgrades her knowledge base. She remembers the way you use words, your commonly used vocabulary and personal preferences to understand context and throw up relevant suggestions and replies. Also, since Alexa is internet-driven, you do not need to have the latest Amazon Echo device to access the latest Alexa features. You can do it with your first generation device too. As already mentioned, Alexa supports a large pool of third party devices and services and she performs her tasks with the help of skills. You can summon Alexa by uttering any of the 4 wake words – Alexa, Echo, Amazon or Computer. However, with Tap, Amazon Fire TV and Dash Wand, you may still need to press a button to activate Alexa. Enhancements have been made of late to Tap to make it hands-free, and users are advised to make suitable changes in their Tap settings.
Sound Technology of the Amazon Echo Dot 2nd Generation :
The new Echo Dot is equipped with seven powerful microphones that pick up your voice commands even in the midst of ambient noise like people talking and music playing. The Echo Dot uses far-field voice recognition technology and beam-forming technology to respond to your commands. You can stand 10 feet away from the speaker – it will still hear your voice. Unless of course you are sitting right next to a blaring sound system and your voice is completely drowned by the loud audio. The new Echo Dot uses advanced Echo Spatial Perception to respond to your queries. This means if your home has multiple Echo devices, and more than one device wakes up upon hearing the wake word Alexa (or any of the other three wake words), only the device closet to you will respond to you and carry out the task requested. This prevents all the devices from gaggling all at once and creating confusion. It also helps avoid repetitive action. For example, you may ask Alexa to call you an Uber but end up to find four at your door instead of one.
Intelligent Features of the Amazon Echo Dot 2nd Generation :
The new Echo Dot is capable of an expansive list of activities. It can control smart home appliances like LED lights, LED TVs, ceiling fans, ACs, security systems, thermostats, home theatre systems, smart locks and switches, garage door openers and smart home setups. The new Echo Dot has smart home partnerships with companies like Honeywell, Philips Hue, Samsung, Wink, Belkin WeMo, Lutron, Crestron, Ecobee, Nest, Insteon, Lifx, August, Big Ass Fans, Anova, Logitech Harmony, Sony, SmartThings, IFTTT and many more. The Echo Dot can stream music on Spitify, Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio and other service providers. Personal assistance capabilities of the Echo Dot include reminding you of your upcoming engagements, tracking courier packages and checking your flight status, among others. You can also summon Alexa to play the latest Hip Hop hits, find restaurants in your vicinity and check weather condition in a particular city. You can use any of your Echo Dot speakers in your home to modify existing to-do lists that you’d saved on the cloud. The speakers will upload all the inputs and combine them into one single list which you can view on the Alexa app on your smartphone. Members of your family with accounts on Amazon can use the Echo Dot to access their individual profiles and make and edit their own lists and calendar events. However, children cannot have access to Alexa as Amazon does not allow children to create accounts with them due to legal reasons. The new Echo Dot has the super convenient Drop In functionality which allows room-to- room calling. Remind your husband who is in the living room downstairs to pick up the dry cleaning or let everyone in the house know lunch is ready without leaving your chair or raising your voice. The Echo Dot promptly links up with other Echo speakers in your house and delivers your message. Also, since Alexa is intelligent enough to recognize your voice, when you say, “Alexa, call dad” she instantly knows who exactly to call in spite of multiple users using her services in your house. The Echo Dot 2nd generation can be paired with your Bluetooth headphones, earphones and speakers. You can also connect it using a 3.5mm audio cable to channel stereo sound to your speakers. Therefore, other speakers can be paired with Echo Dot for enhanced sound experience. You can also use the Echo Dot to browse through millions of products on Amazon and order stuff for you online.
Physical Design of the Amazon Echo Dot 2nd Generation :
The newest Echo Dot has a compact size and simple round design. Unlike its predecessors which were taller and shaped like cans of Pringles or Foster’s beer, the 2nd Generation Echo Dot is only 1.3 inches tall and has a diameter of 3.3 inches. Hence, it is more stable, sits more firmly and does not easily topple over. Furthermore, its small size allows it to fit in narrow spaces and remain hidden from view. The Echo Dot can be customized to blend in with the décor of a room. There are Echo Dot jackets in different colors available in fabric and leather. The 2nd generation Echo Dot has done away with the volume ring on top and replaced it with four simple buttons, two for increasing and decreasing the volume, one for muting microphone and one for action. Two jacks are provided in the rear side of the device for micro-USB power charging and 3.5mm audio output. The Echo Dot is also fairly lightweight and weighs a mere 163 grams. The package includes the Echo Dot, a micro-USB power cable, a power adapter and a user’s guide.
Desired Improvements to the Echo Dot 2nd Generation :
Like all technological innovations, the Echo Dot 2nd Generation has scope for evolution. For starters, the Echo Dot’s microphones could use some stepping up. They are not perceptive enough to detect your voice over very loud music or TV sounds. You may have to lean closer to the device to make yourself intelligible. In this regard, the Google Home is preferable as it has better speech recognition abilities and can filter out disruptive noise from the environment. Secondly, the built-in speaker of the Echo Dot 2nd Generation is designed principally to serve up information through Alexa’s voice. It can read you the day’s news, offer suggestions on products and even tell bedtime stories. But it cannot function as a stereo speaker. It lacks the dynamic range to pump out loud high-fidelity music playback. However, you can pair the Echo Dot with an AV receiver or a speaker with an integrated amplifier (with the help of a cable or via Bluetooth) and you are good to go. In other words, the Echo can serve as your point of contact for the stereo system. Thirdly, multiple 2nd Generation Echo Dot devices cannot be grouped together like Google Home devices to play the same song in several rooms of your house simultaneously using Bluetooth. Fourthly, the 2nd Generation Echo Dot does not come with a line-in cable. You will have to purchase it separately.
Overall, the Amazon Echo Dot 2nd generation is a fantastic smart home device. It makes your life easier and helps you stay more organized. Its USP is its ultra low cost. In fact it is the cheapest Echo device in the Amazon Echo family. The next expensive device is the Echo which cost twice as much as the Echo Dot 2nd generation. Other devices like the Echo Plus, Echo Spot and Echo Show are even more expensive.
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