The Amazon Echo Dot, which uses smart assistant technology, is a useful feature that has only begun to take off. Since the integration and creation of Siri with smartphones, the use of smart assistant technology has started to become more advanced. This can be seen with the assistant Alexa, who accompanies the Echo Dot.
The Echo Dot, which was released back in October of 2016, is part of the Amazon Echo Smart Speaker line. The other devices that are featured on the Echo line are the Echo Show, Echo Spot, Echo Plus and a few others. Compared to its counterparts, this device is much smaller, slicker and can basically fit anywhere. To use the Echo device one has to download the Amazon Alexa app. From there you are able to change settings, find out more information on a previously asked question and find out more about the device in general.
In its essence, the Echo Dot, or as it prefers to be called, Alexa, is like Siri if she were given a speaker. The Echo is Amazon’s response to the Google Home and any other smart home devices. Alexa is connected to Amazon’s cloud-connected, voice-activated virtual assistant. To ask the device a question, you will first need to say the wake word “Alexa.” Once she is awake you can ask her anything. An example would be “Alexa, what time is it?” Of course one can ask more complex questions, like time zones, recent stock changes, flights, order food or even asking Alexa to play music. If you are having a dinner party you can ask Alexa to order the perfect food and play the right soundtrack to fit the mood.
Before you know it, Alexa will be able to recognize your voice and tell it apart from others. You are able to enroll your voice by asking the device to learn verbally or by using the Alexa app. By enrolling your voice, Alexa will be able to provide an individual and personalized experience. By performing the voice enrollment, users must follow a series of verbal instructions to teach Alexa their voice. From there it will take about five minutes from the device to grasp and recognize your voice. With voice recognition, Alexa will be able to remember your specific, calendar and upcoming events, music preferences, shopping lists, and flash briefing preferences.
Alexa is able to stream music from Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, and Spotify. The device is also capable of streaming radio, podcasts and even recap news from local stations. After messing around with Alexa is was actually surprised to find that if I wanted the major news highlights of the day, Alexa streamed a CBC newscast.
Being a product of Amazon, Alexa is able to put in orders to purchase anything from the renowned shopping site. “Alexa I am looking for…..” is one of the phrases that can be issued to Alexa when you are looking to make a purchase through Amazon. Alexa will also make the conscious decision to ask if you are interested in any related items to the product you are looking for. While being able to access Amazon for shopping and music, Alexa is not above enabling you to order in a pizza. You are able to ask the device where the closest pizza joint is and Alexa will ask if you would like to put in an order. There was even one night when I was hanging out with my roommates and we were craving a pizza, instead of ordering online like we normally do. I suggested that we ask Alexa to see if she was able to do so. That night we ended up with a large pepperoni pizza and it was served with a side of satisfied with Alexa’s performance.
While the Dot is a small speaker, it is still able to generate a level of sound that allows for a comforting experience. When the volume is put on max however, then Alexa will be able to produce a medium-high quality sound that can be heard all throughout the room you have Alexa in. The further you move away from the device, the more trouble it has picking up your voice commands and relaying the information you demanded. When the Echo Dot is by itself and not connected to any speaker via Bluetooth, then the sound will be at its peak when you are in the same room as Alexa. The further you get from the device, it becomes clearer what the limitations are for the Echo Dot. This became clear when I left the room to grab a drink from my kitchen. I could hear my roomates asking the device some questions but when I didn’t hear any replies from the device, I wondered if either the device was not working or if they issued a command wrong. When I asked them about it, they said they could hear the device perfectly while I had a hard time trying to pick up Alexa’s voice.
When Alexa is hooked up to a speaker, then that is where the Dot begins to shine. Connecting the device to a speaker further amplifies the sound that the Dot produces. Alexa can be heard throughout the residence when connected to a speaker. If you are in another room and want Alexa to perform a task, then you can issue a command through the Alexa App and the sound will make it feel like Alexa is in the same room.
This in lies the main problem with the Echo Dot. If you do not already own a speaker, then you are not able to experience the full capabilities of the device. Already most prime quality speakers on the market cost over $200. On top of purchasing a device that emits a mediocre sound by itself, you are then supposed to buy a speaker to further enhance the device.
If you do not feel like spending the money on a brand new speaker, then I highly suggest purchasing the Amazon Echo or Echo Plus. It has all of the same features as the Echo Dot, except, the standard Echo produces a higher quality sound without the use of a speaker. At the moment the Amazon Echo is available for $129.99 CAD and the Echo Plus is purchasable for $199.99 CAD.
At the moment the Amazon Echo Dot costs $69.99 CDN on Amazon. If you already have a speaker at home and you feel that Alexa would enhance your living experience, then I would encourage the purchase of the device. If you do not own one however, then I would advise you to save your money or buy another speaker from the Echo line.
Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Monster Hunter World Beta: the Insatiable Nergigante, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and Super Mario Odyssey!
Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!
CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!