Well this little device, affectionately named ‘Alexa’, is a game changer. It’s small, portable, compact, and has a range of functionality that I am personally blown away by. So here is my review on some of key points about the Amazon Echo Dot.
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The Echo Device
The Echo Dot comes in 3 colours: Charcoal, Heather Grey and Sandstone and feature 4 buttons on top: volume up, volume down, interact, and mute. When interacting with the Echo the light ring around the perimeter will indicate different modes or settings:
- Red when microphone is muted,
- Blue/green when interacting, orange when accessing settings mode, and
- Yellow when operating the volume with real-time volume level indication.
For such a small device the sound quality is crisp and clear. It also provides a means to connect to external speakers via Bluetooth or AUX cable.
Don’t Forget the Alexa App
In order to use the Echo Dot you must download the free Amazon Alexa app which you can easily find in the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. This will then guide you right through the setup process to connect Alexa to your home WIFI and your mobile device. You’ll also need an Amazon account in order to do this.
Once you’re connected, you’re open to a world of possibilities. If you have Spotify Premium, Deezer Premium or Apple Music, you can easily connect with Alexa, then it will source and play your music that way. If not, then I recommend taking advantage of the great one-device Amazon Music Unlimited deal that Amazon offers. This will then gain you access to (almost) every song you could possibly think of. Once Alexa learns your personal musical preferences it will play some great recommendations. Or, for example, if you’re in the mood for some relaxing tunes, just say what you want and Alexa will tailor to your needs.
You can access some great free music apps, or Skills, such as TuneIn which will allow you to listen to your favourite internet radio stations. Also, you might have an audio book collection from Audible that can be instantly accessed through your Echo.
Other Skills I use (and love) are ‘Question of the Day’, ‘Castbox’ (podcasts) and ‘Song Quiz’. Using the Alexa app you can search for and enable many different Skills, and once enabled, use the voice prompt provided to access that Skill. It’s as easy as that!
Alexa will report your local weather, news and more. So if you’re curious about something, just ask Alexa.
Amazon have also enabled the ability to call contacts who have an Echo device or the Alexa app. I think this would be a great feature for an elderly relative who lives alone and may require assistance due to a fall. Or if you have devices in several rooms throughout the house you can drop-in on another Echo and use it as a household intercom. Therefore Alexa would be a useful tool to send out a notification to your other household devices that dinner will be ready in 5 minutes.
Extras for Echo
Now on the market are a range of smart home appliances that the Amazon Echo Dot can interact with. For instance light bulbs, adapter plugs, Hive heating thermostats and even home security systems, which are just a voice command away.
Disadvantage of the Dot
One downside I’ve noted though is that sometimes Alexa, will cause some audio/video interference with my Google ChromeCast. No big deal, this is easily corrected by moving the Echo a little further away from the ChromeCast, or by unplugging the Echo. When turned on again, it really only takes the Echo a moment to reconnect and is ready for action.
And of course you can buy yours here…
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