Amazon’s Echo Dot is now shipping and is available on Amazon.co.uk priced at £49.99.
We’re busy beavering away on a full review, but until then here are our first impressions of the sister device to the Amazon Echo. It gives you access to Alexa without the Bluetooth speaker-like experience.
That’s because, unlike the fully-fledged Echo, the Dot doesn’t have full speaker drivers of its own, just a smaller speaker for voice feedback and alarm functionality. It’s not, therefore, designed to play music on its own.
Instead, it has a line-out for a wired connection to a separate AV receiver or speaker system. It can also connect to a Bluetooth speaker wirelessly, so handy if you have a preferred one of those lying around.
But while there’s no booming speaker, the Echo Dot offers the full Alexa voice-controlled system, as with the larger Echo.
Alexa is Amazon’s cloud-based information bot, that responds to vocal commands and can be used to find information on the web or control many smart devices around your home.
For example, we used it to control Hue lighting connected to the same network, and to play music through a mighty speaker stack in the corner.
The small, puck-like Echo Dot is simple to install and use. You connect it to the power, hook it up to your wireless network and away you go. Bark “Alexa” at it and it wakes up ready to be instructed with other commands.
You can find out football results, forthcoming fixtures, even get it to read books to you.
It has been around in the US for a while, but this new model is faster and more efficient. It also has regional accent variations depending on your location. Our demo was with the UK edition, so it spoke with a British accent – sounding a little like a computerised version of Holly Willoughby.
We will need to give it a thorough test to find out what it’s fully capable of, especially in a UK sense considering it can hook up to Sky News and other local services, but for now, its £50 price point seems like good value for something that could change the way you interact with your home.
I can also work independently to the main Amazon Echo, so you can scatter several around the home, but you would, in that case, need multiple separate speakers to get the most from it, something that Sonos users will presumably be able to take advantage of when it launches its tie-in in 2017.