Amazon Echo Dot Review

I'm sure by now you've all seen the adverts where Alexa, the digital personal assistant, turns the room blue, tells the hoover to clean the floor, orders cereal, and plays a music playlist. From seeing these adverts, I was super excited when Ideas Network sent me my own Amazon Echo Dot to try*!

The first thing I found was that the device came with minimal packaging, which really impressed me. Next, I quickly found that the set up is as simple as the packaging. Plug in, download app, connect to wifi, done. There's no need to worry about batteries or charging or setting up accounts. I was eager to get started, and the easy set up was a dream.

a black amazon echo dot sat on a pink book with bright crayons scattered around it

My boyfriend's family have several Dots, so I asked Alexa to play The Smiths as I do with theirs. Alexa said that it wasn't in my playlist, but I could download it or use Amazon Music Unlimited. I figured that The Smiths must be in the prime playlist, and asked for Queen instead, thinking an older, classic band would be more likely to be on her list. I received the same answer. Maybe I should have read the small print on those adverts!

As Alexa said, you must have downloaded through Amazon or be signed up to Prime or Amazon Music Unlimited, which my boyfriend's family have done. The subscriptions have a monthly fee, starting at £3.99 for Amazon Music Unlimited for the Echo Dot. The same is true for Audible, Amazon's audiobook player. I had naively assumed that when you bought the device for £49.99, it would come with more simplistic, limited versions of these. Luckily, Amazon offer 30 day free trials which can be cancelled at any time.

I have been using the Amazon Music Unlimited trial, which offers a huge range of songs, soundtracks, playlists, and current hits. You can search by artist, song, genre, or lyric, and adjust the volume or change track by simply speaking to Alexa, who doesn't have to be in the same room to hear and respond. It's fantastic value for music lovers who want to quickly access specific tracks or discover new music through Amazon's playlists. There are even tracks for rain and sea sound, which are great as a sleep aid.

a black amazon echo dot sat on a green book with colourful crayons and fineliner pens around it

Personally, I'm not totally won over by the Echo Dot. While I can use it to set alarms and hear news and weather reports, I could do the same plus play music free through YouTube on my laptop or phone. The latter still has voice recognition, and both are portable, unlike the Echo Dot. Aside from having to keep it tethered to the wall, I had no issue whatsoever with the device or software, I just didn't feel that it fit my lifestyle, and I wasn't making the most of it.

The selling point is being hands free, which I can see working to a great advantage as the hub of a busy family home. It's worth the subscriptions if busy parents are using it to play music while cooking dinner, then letting it read to the kids at bedtime, for example. Amazon are constantly expanding their libraries to provide more content and represent even better value as time goes on, and there are family subscription packages available, too.

I can see a Dot working really well for an elderly or disabled person, too, with the sharp and immediate voice recognition able to pick up requests from across the house, and quickly respond. The speaker's highest level is really powerful for such a tiny device, and always sounds perfectly clear. Perhaps most helpful, there is a voice messaging service which would cater really well to a user who has difficulties holding or using a phone. 

a black amazon echo dot sat on a pink book with bright crayons scattered around it

I really appreciate that Amazon automatically update the software and continually work to improve the device. It means that the devices stay relevant rather than having to repurchase and, again, makes it much easier for users who haven't the ability to manually carry out changes.

With the updates, users will find more technology able to link to the Echo Dot system. Philips Hue lights and digital locks are just two current examples of systems Alexa can connect with, and soon the small but powerful Dot will be able to help the whole family around every room of the home. As a novelty gadget, the Echo Dot was rather wasted on me, but as a personal assistant for the whole house, it is a really worthwhile investment.

Would you use an Amazon Echo Dot?

*The Amazon Echo Dot was sent to me by Ideas Network in exchange for an honest review. See my disclaimer for more details.



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