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Amazon’s latest low-cost Alexa-powered smart speaker, the third-generation Echo Dot looks better, looks better, but still costs the same budget-friendly £ 50.
When the second-generation Echo Dot launched in the UK, there was very little in the way of competition. Everything that was good about Amazon’s Alexa Voice Assistant was submerged in a small package at half the price of a large Echo, it didn’t make any sense.
But now Echo Dot is in the form of a £ 50 home mini from Google and its subsidiary, and Amazon has its own second-generation echo, which is now only $ 90.
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What is it?
Echo Dot is a built-in smart speaker with Amazon’s smaller, stronger Alexa voice assistant – a new round-the-world aesthetic with soft, fabric sides. It measures 99 mm in diameter and 43 mm long, slightly larger in all directions.
There is a circular power socket on the back, a standard 3.5mm analog socket for replacing the old dot’s micro USB socket and connecting to the stereo. At the top, you have the volume button, action button, and microphone mute button.
You can use Bluetooth as a speaker to transmit the dot to another speaker or to the dot on your phone or other device.
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The updated design is paired with advanced speakers. Instead of the old model’s plastic tops, the sound is extracted from the fabric aspects of the new dot, with more noise projecting from room to room, making it better for music.
Speaker quality has also been upgraded. It won’t beat the bigger speakers, but for the money, it looks pretty cool with Google’s home mini streaming.
The mids are plump, the heels are relatively crisp and while there is no real alloy to say, the new dot sounds relatively round for a smaller speaker.
It also features guitars and vocals, from something like a live version of the Hotel California of the Eagles to the hit fridge over and you’re greeted with a warm, inviting tune. Classical tracks like Jupiter from Holster’s planet are also fairly rounded. Dot fights base-powered electronic, but Dr. Dresses Steele is D.R.E. Despite its pumping busline.
While not as loud as Google’s home mini, the dot can get pretty loud and the audio starts to distort at the highest amount of high-power tracks.
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With smart speakers, the hardware you buy is only half the story: they live or die by the ability of a voice assistant in it.
Dot’s Alexa performance is first-rate, its four-microphone array enables you to hear things like playing in the music room at the highest volume, or you need to scream a bit. Alexa also sounds good through Dot speakers.
But where Alexa was the only game in town, it’s now a two-horse race between Alexa and Google assistants. For most things, Alexa and the assistant are on a level playing field, especially if you’re not already fully integrated with Google’s ecosystem.
Works great like smart home control, music playback, podcast, news briefing, playing radio stations, setting multiple alarms, timers and various other beats.
How do I get the best from Alexa?
There are many third-party “skills” (apps) with news publishers such as Alexa Guardian, games like Room Escape, national rail applications and European things like Star Trek – Red Alert, so you can pretend you’re on Starship Enterprise.
You can also change the waking sound of Alexa, the sound that is heard dormant before activating. “Alexa” is the default, but options include Echo, Computer or Amazon – helpful if someone in your home calls Alex and wants to avoid accidental activity on both dot or human.
The Google Assistant where the edge is when you make noise in your questions or when you issue multiple commands such as “turn off the Christmas tree and living room lights” has to explain the meaning of the speech. Google can also answer questions bigger than Alexa.
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- Alexa can finally identify different voice profiles for different users in one UK home until November
- The blue light ring on the top is easy to see from the whole house
- You can buy items on Amazon by voice if you want, but it can be a laborious process if you don’t know the specific names and variants of the item. I stopped it.
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Amazon Echo Dot (third generation), available in black, gray or white, priced at $ 49.99, though the supply constraints mean you’ll have to shop around.
For comparison, the previous version also costs £ 50, while Google’s competition home mini costs £ 49. Amazon’s big Eco is priced at £ 89.99, Echo Plus £ 139.99, Echo Spot £ 119.99 and Echo Show £ 219.99.
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The new Echo Dot is a slight improvement over the old one in every way. It sounds more interesting, sounds better, sounds just like you still have a 3.5mm socket and Bluetooth audio in and out.
It’s no patch on larger Echo speakers, which doubles in price, but it beats its nearest competitor, the Google Home Mini, for sound and connectivity.
At $ 50, or often $ 30, you get a lot of smart speakers for money with Echo Dot, but where the original Echo Dot was non-brainer, it has now been decided whether you want Alexa or Google Assistant on your tiny smart speaker, which is more to be done. Hard call.
Clear and loud audio. Limited smart-home features.
3.5mm and Bluetooth audio outputs. A little smaller.
Same price as the old model. No longer USB-powered.
Improved design. Not ideal for music.
Impressive full sound quality. Music distorts at max volume.
An inexpensive introduction to smart home control.
Better microphone sensitivity.
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- Amazon Echo Second-Generation Review: Smaller, cheaper, and better
- Google Home Review: Smart speakers that answer almost any question
- Google Home Minerview: A brilliant little £ 50 voice assistant speaker
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