In a modern world where we are constantly surrounded by smart speakers and devices, the concept to use all that power to simply ask the time seems silly.
According to Amazon, one of the most asked questions of Alexa is the time, so it makes sense that at least one of their devices would come with a clock built-in. Enter the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock, a simple addition to an already great device, but one that somehow makes it infinitely more useful.
This new $59.99 USD smart speaker places an LED digital clock in front of the already fantastic Echo Dot. It seems like a no brainer for the little device, and it works wonderfully. With this new addition of a digital display, the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock also has a few other tricks under its sleeve to use this new readout.
Should you ask for the temperature, it will briefly display it on the LEDs while Alexa describes the weather audibly. If you set a timer, the readout will slowly count down, making it easy to quickly see how much time is left. It will even let you know when you have set an alarm, there will be an easy to see dot next to the time so you can know it was done correctly.
Up until now, the Echo range has had a clear distinction between Smart screens and Smart speakers, and the new Amazon Echo Dot with Clock mixes this up a bit. Now, I am personally a fan of a bit of visual feedback, and it is often my biggest frustration with the Echo range of products. It can be hard to see if an alarm was set, or to quickly check the time. While the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock is not the most exciting alarm clock on earth, nor do I believe it was meant to be, this acts as a much-needed quality of life improvement to an already fantastic smart speaker offering. It reduces the little annoyances that plague the smart speaker and makes it easier to integrate into your everyday life.
That all being said, if you already have a 3rd gen Echo Dot and don’t need an alarm clock, there is really not much new here to warrant an upgrade. That is not to say it is a bad thing, the 3rd generation Echo Dot was and still is a fantastic entry point to the Echo range of products. Like all Echo devices, the signature blue ring is still present and will illuminate upon hearing the wake word. The sound quality, as far as we can tell through testing, is the exact same as last year’s offering. The speaker still sounds good for the price-point, but it won’t compete against the likes of their bigger speakers, or even the Nest range of smart speakers, although it still sounds good enough for light music and audiobooks.
The speakers on the Echo Dot are side-firing, so it works great for small spaces where the speaker sits next to you. While I enjoy the Nest Mini and how it sounds, the fact it fires upwards means much of the sound will be lost, making the Echo Dot a more ideal choice—at least if you do not plan to mount the Nest Mini. Also, if you want to plug in bigger speakers but still have access to Alexa, it is hard to beat the Echo Dot’s 3.5mm audio output jack.
The Amazon Echo Dot with Clock can also be set up in a stereo pair, or even have a subwoofer added to the mix should you want to make a whole room audio setup. That being said, with the Echo Studio currently available objectively sounding better, it is hard to recommend this setup, but it is nice to see Amazon give the option should users want to expand what the Echo Dot can do. It should also be noted that unlike the new Nest Mini, the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock does not allow for wall mounting at this time.
It is also good to see that Amazon has provided the option to hide the clock should you go down that route. I know if you set up a stereo pair, having two clocks could look a little silly, but big daddy Amazon planned ahead, and this can be turned off or even adjusted with the use of your voice through Alexa commands or in the Alexa app. It is also important to note that the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock does dim according to the ambient light in the room, meaning the display will not keep you up at night with the ominous time ticking down to your eventual wake-up. It is a small feature, but one that is important should you want this on any night table, especially without causing a major issue.
Ultimately, Amazon has added a great new feature to an already great device. Do I feel it is a game-changer for the echo range of products? No, but it does offer a quality of life improvement that was much needed. If you are looking to pick up a gift or want to enter the world of smart speakers, the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock is a great starting point. It is simple, inexpensive, a great addition to the range, and a must-buy for anyone looking for an inexpensive smart speaker.