The Amazon Echo Dot (third gen) achieves the seemingly not possible. Simply as its predecessor did it when it was launched again in 2016 it squeezes all of the voice-driven smarts of a full-blown Echo into a tool that matches in your palm however, not like that gadget, its sound high quality is nice sufficient that you could take heed to it with out wincing.
The Echo Dot (third gen) is a masterclass in making every little thing higher, with out mountain climbing the worth within the course of. It is one of the best finances sensible speaker you should purchase.
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Amazon Echo Dot (third gen) overview: What you should know
Good audio system, for people who don’t know, are audio system that may be operated by the voice. A digital assistant – on this case Alexa – listens for the wake phrase, and can comply with the directions that comply with, be that enjoying an album, telling you the climate or supplying you with a information replace.
The Echo Dot (third gen) is confusingly each Amazon’s entry-level gadget on this house and the choose for audiophiles in all places. The rationale for this seemingly contradictory assertion is that though the unique Echo Dot didn’t have a lot of a speaker in any respect, it had a 3.5mm audio jack within the again, letting homeowners join it to another sound system, whether or not it price £10 or £10,000.
The Echo Dot maintains that raison d’etre however improves issues alongside the best way for individuals who don’t need to join it to a different sound system. Not solely does it look extra trendy, however on a technical stage, it now boasts a 1.6in speaker inside, in comparison with the unique’s 0.6in tweeter.
Amazon Echo Dot (third gen) overview: Worth and competitors
The Echo Dot (third gen) prices £50 – the identical as its predecessor – and that implies that when it comes to competitors, there’s just one sport on the town: the Google Nest Mini. Google’s dinky gadget additionally prices £50 however runs Google Assistant, which is undeniably smarter and higher at understanding voice prompts than Alexa. On the unfavourable facet, Google has made the bone-headed design determination to not embrace an audio-out jack, so that you’re caught with the built-in speaker, which is not a patch on the Echo Dot (third gen).
The opposite apparent competitor is the unique Echo Dot, however on a sensible stage that’s now not an possibility: out with the outdated and in with the brand new on Amazon. Nonetheless, the preowned market is more likely to be swamped with outdated Dots quickly, and if you happen to’re connecting to an costly sound system anyway they’ll do exactly as stable a job because the shiny new mannequin.
Amazon Echo Dot (third gen) overview: Design
The unique Echo Dot seemed like somebody had sawed off the very prime little bit of the unique Echo. Given present Echoes look nothing just like the first-generation mannequin, the one actual shock is that it’s taken Amazon a yr to catch up.
So, it’s nonetheless a puck, but it surely’s a much bigger puck: each taller and wider, with dimensions of 99 x 99 x 43mm, in comparison with the earlier technology’s 84 x 84 x 32mm. It’s additionally practically twice as heavy, coming in at a chunky 300g to the unique’s 163g.
However added heft isn’t the one change: gone is the cheap-looking plastic casing of the unique, changed with curved cloth across the exterior. The highest continues to be plastic, but it surely’s curved, and feels nearly rubbery to the contact. It’s additionally misplaced the ostentatious Amazon emblem, which is nice information for these of us that don’t desire a reminder that we’re funding Jeff Bezos’ lavish way of life each time we look up.
It maintains the 4 buttons on prime – quantity up, quantity down, a button to set off Alexa, and a button to mute the mic for privateness – in addition to the blue ring that lights up when it hears the wake phrase. Flip it round, and also you’ll nonetheless discover an space minimize out for an audio connector and the ability supply – solely it’s now not micro USB, however the identical form of energy connector you get with the bigger Echo gadgets.
It’s an aesthetic new look, in different phrases, though given the primary one was small, compact and straightforward to stow away behind sound methods, most individuals shouldn’t care an excessive amount of both means.
Amazon Echo Dot (third gen) overview: Sound high quality
You may use the unique Echo Dot as a standalone speaker, however solely a masochist would. The 0.6in tweeter inside was solely actually good for voice solely, with a reedy output nearly ample for audiobooks and podcasts. That was tremendous: it was designed to be related to different audio system, both through Bluetooth or audio cable.
The excellent news is that the 2018 Echo Dot makes a stable little speaker in its personal proper, because of the 1.6in speaker now packed inside. The reedy, prone-to-distortion audio of the unique is gone, and the general sound feels extra bassy, heat and usually richer. It additionally goes a hell of rather a lot louder, although you don’t need to push this: it’s nonetheless only a 1.6in speaker, not a club-grade sound system.
I don’t need to overstate the standard, as a result of it’s possible that any devoted sound system you personal can be higher than the 2018 Echo Dot’s output, and it is best to make pairing it with one other system a precedence when you have one. However the level is that the unique Echo Dot was an assault on the ears when used as a standalone speaker, with a sound extra akin to a radio alarm clock than a correct HiFi setup.
The 2018 Dot supplies a sound that’s undoubtedly listenable, and on a par along with your common £30 – £40 Bluetooth speaker. It’s greater than sufficient for a small room the place you simply need to have Alexa on faucet while not having to splash out.
Amazon Echo Dot (third gen) overview: How is Alexa?
Within the nice league desk of digital voice assistants, Alexa is close to the highest, but it surely’s undoubtedly not the neatest. That honour nonetheless belongs to Google Assistant, which is undeniably higher at not solely understanding uncommon phrasing however offering a usable reply as effectively.
It is a foolish instance, but it surely’s illustrative all the identical: if you happen to ask a Google House “what number of hairs on a cat,” it’s going to reply: “on common, there are 60,000 hairs per sq. inch on the again and 120,000 hairs per sq. inch on the underside. 44 sq in/ft x roughly 3 sq. toes of floor space = 40 million hairs.” When you ask an Echo Dot the identical factor, you may get a shorter however incorrect reply: “a cat has 60,000 hairs.” It is clear that Alexa hasn’t obtained a deal with on context, and stopped studying the reply after the primary line of an web search when it is truly the primary line of a extra in-depth rationalization.
Elsewhere, you may count on related outcomes. Fairly often you may get a response of “hmm, I do not know that one.” The truth is, guessing the form of factor Alexa will have the ability to reply to is a problem in itself, and having owned a first-generation Echo since day one, I’ve obtained right into a routine the place I simply ask it the fundamentals: mild switching, information updates, music and jokes. For these core capabilities, the brand new Echo Dot works simply tremendous, however know if you would like a bit of extra it is value Google’s choices.
Amazon Echo Dot (third gen) overview: Verdict
Just like the Kindle earlier than it, Amazon has taken an ideal product that didn’t really want enhancing and by some means made it higher in each means. It appears to be like classier and it sounds considerably higher, with all the identical perks that made the unique Dot such a compelling product.
That stated, if you happen to already personal a Dot or two, there’s not a lot purpose to improve, so long as they’re related to an exterior speaker. And in the event that they’re not, you’re nonetheless most likely higher off spending your cash on a £50 speaker to spice up the sound, quite than beginning afresh with the 2018 Dot.
When you haven’t already tried a wise speaker, and aren’t creeped out by the entire listening gadget factor, then that is the entry-level product to purchase. It was already one of the best ways of dipping a toe on the planet of sensible audio system, because of Google cheaping out on an audio port on the Nest Mini, however now it’s even higher.
And on the similar engaging worth, too. Amazon’s carried out it once more.