Alexa Echo Dot – A Personal Review

echo dot review amazon alexaWe recently purchased our first Alexa Echo Dot and while I was not as excited as my wife, I have to say I have found it useful. I haven’t upgraded to all smart appliances and integrated smart tech into our lighting, thermostat or televisions, but even without all that I’ve found this little gadget handy to have around.

It’s tiny, so it’s not like it’s cumbersome to have around and, while the speaker isn’t going to wake the neighbors, it’s loud enough to be heard throughout most of the house.

What is the Alexa Echo Dot?

The Alexa Echo Dot is a wireless speaker that can perform thousands of tasks for you at the command of your voice. Now, by wireless it is important to know that I’m talking about WiFi, not battery power(although there is an addon for this, see the picture below). It does have to be plugged into an outlet to work. You simply say “Alexa” and then follow up with what you’d like her to do.

The Alexa Echo Dot was named for the ancient library of Alexandria, although, this may be a bit of a misnomer. The library was supposed to be huge containing the vast majority of human knowledge within it’s written works. Alexa, however is not Google. She can search the web, but her resources are limited. If factual based searches are the most important reason for you to have a smart home device, get a Google Home instead.

What can Alexa Do?

The Alexa Echo dot has over 15,000 skills under it’s belt. But there are those that you will use more often than others. Alexa can create shopping lists for you and send them to the app for you to have it at the store. You can search the web, with limited resources, you can make calls (very helpful if you’ve misplaced your phone and are the only person home) and set timers. You can set alarms to wake you up in the morning, schedule calendar appointments, call for an Uber or Lyft, and even plan a vacation through Kayak.

alexa echo dot battery base

Alexa Echo Dot shown with battery base

Alexa is also handy for entertaining kids. There are several games that Alexa will play, such as 20 questions and word chain. She can play music and even tell bedtime stories if you need her to. I won’t lie, on days when I’m at home alone having someone(even a robot voice in a tiny speaker) to play word games with it handy.

The Alexa Echo Dot can help in the kitchen too. If you’re at loss for what to cook for dinner you can simply say “Alexa, can you find me a dinner recipe?” And she’ll suggest one. If you have smart devices in you kitchen you can even use Alexa to turn them on without leaving the couch. She’ll also do any conversions you need while cooking.

If you’re looking to make you home smarter the Alexa Echo Dot can help there too. You can control lights, thermostat, and television from the recliner. If you’re walking into  dark house with an armload of groceries because guys only make one trip, it’s much easier to say “Alexa turn on the living room lights.” Than to untangle your arms from 50 bags flip a switch and pick the groceries back up.

What are the limitations?

Alexa is a very knowledgeable girl, but from what I can tell, most of her knowledge comes from Wikipedia. She’s not Google. Some question will just confound her. Users that a used to Google Assistant, and Siri might find this aspect a bit hard to swallow because you’ll actually have to pull the phone out of you pocket to look up the answer. Ugh. It’s like living in the Dark Ages.

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The Alexa Echo Dot  also makes you repeat yourself. A Lot. If you’re making a grocery list, for example, you can’t just say “Alexa, add pizza and beer to my grocery list”. You have to say “Alexa, add pizza to my grocery list. Alexa, add beer to my grocery list”. Not that much trouble, really, but it can get annoying.

I heard she’s recording everything for the government

Oh she can hear everything you say. Sort of. The Alexa Echo Dot has a super sensitive microphone that can hear you talk at a normal level from the other side of the house, and it’s always listening. However, there is not some shady figure in a smoke-filled room waiting for you to incriminate yourself. She’s listening for her key word that says you’re about to ask her to do something.

If you have Siri, or Google Assistant, they do the same thing, sorry to burst that bubble. You have no privacy anymore. Now, that being said, if you asked Alexa how to dispose of a body the police will not show up. Amazon is mostly interested in what will get you to buy more products and how you interact with the Alexa Echo Dot. That’s not to say that Amazon can’t be compelled to give the recordings over if you are arrested.

I know you’ve seen videos of people asking Alexa if she is working with the NSA and her shutting down, but she does this all the time. If you ask her if she has to be plugged in she just shuts off.  It’s not a special government safeguard. That being said, I wouldn’t discuss military or nation security secrets without hitting the mute button.

Dad’s Thoughts

Amazon Alexa echo dot reviewI like this device. Would my life be empty and would I be left feeling like a hollow shell without it? No. But it’s handy to have around. I’ve probably asked her to do 10 things while I typed this review because it saves me time and effort. I listen to music a lot around the house and the fact that the Alexa Echo Dot can pair with another bluetooth speaker, in my opinion, makes it better than its predecessor.

My kids and wife both like Alexa too. My son enjoys trying to talk to it and playing the games, and my wife enjoys the games and music as well. It’s nice to have someone in the house that always knows the weather forecast and will remember things for me when my memory just doesn’t suffice. Getting special daily Amazon Deals from Alexa is nice too!

All in all this is a great, fun device to have in your home and I would recommend it to almost anybody out there. If you want to pick one up for your family check it out on Amazon.com – Echo Dot (2nd Generation), or by clicking one of the pictures of the Echo Dot in this post! Let me know in the comments what you think of this gadget in the comments below! What do you love or hate about Alexa?

 


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