The Amazon Echo Dot is a far more affordable entry point into the world of hands-free Alexa devices. Here are ten things you should know about the new miniature Amazon Echo.
Echo Dot and Amazon Tap work great together
The Amazon Echo Dot works very well with the Amazon Tap. The Tap is an Amazon Echo without the always listening capabilities, while the Echo Dot is an Amazon Echo without a good sounding speaker. Combining the Amazon Tap with the Echo Dot gives you everything the Amazon Echo has to offer, yet with the added convenience of portability if you need it. It is the best of both worlds. With the Tap and Dot paired over Bluetooth, you can speak to the Dot as if it were a standard Echo and get great sounding audio through the Tap that is almost as good as the Echo speaker. The advantage is, unlike the Amazon Echo, you can easily take the Tap around the house. While playing music from the Echo Dot through the Tap, you can still use Alexa on the Tap just fine. If you ever find yourself talking to the Echo Dot while the Tap is too far away to hear, you can simply say “Alexa, disconnect Bluetooth” to switch back to the Echo Dot’s internal speaker. Then, let’s say you’re listening to something through the Echo Dot’s internal speaker and you walk away, you can pick up the Tap and tell Alexa on it to connect to Bluetooth, at which point it will connect to and begin playing back the audio coming from the Echo Dot. There are dozens of more scenarios where a combined Amazon Tap and Echo Dot give you far more flexibility than you get with the Amazon Echo alone. The only downside I’ve found to the combo is the next item on this list.
Echo Dot cannot be controlled by media buttons on Bluetooth Speakers
Most bluetooth speakers have physical media playback buttons on the speaker itself. This allows you to control the audio being played on the speaker remotely. The Echo Dot is not compatible with media playback buttons on Bluetooth speakers, like the ones found on the Amazon Tap. If you’re listening to audio using the Echo Dot through Bluetooth speakers and want to pause or skip for example, you have to do it verbally and can’t use the speaker’s buttons.
Echo Dot internal speaker is fully functional and surprisingly good
Amazon has downplayed the Echo Dot’s internal speaker and mostly made you assume it’s only good for Alexa communication. That’s not the case. The Echo Dot’s internal speaker can be used for all functions as if the device was a full fledged Amazon Echo. If you don’t have an external speaker connected to the Echo Dot, it does not limit its functionality in any way. At maximum volume, the Echo Dot’s speaker is about as loud as the Amazon Echo’s speaker is at half volume. It is not as rich or warm sounding as the Amazon Echo’s speaker, and it has nearly no bass, which is why you probably wouldn’t want to use it as your primary music speaker, but it is perfectly sufficient for podcast, audiobook, and light bedtime/background music use.
Echo Dot’s volume knob will control external speaker volume
The Echo Dot has a volume ring on the top that is identical to the one on the Amazon Echo. This ring is primarily used to control the volume of the internal speaker, but will also control the volume of external wired or wireless Bluetooth speakers connected to the Dot. It will not bypass the volume control on your external speakers, so you essentially have two independent volume controls, but it’s handy if you need to turn the audio down quickly when the Echo Dot is closer to you than the external speaker. Ideally, you probably want to keep the volume on either the Dot or the external speaker near its maximum and control the volume from only one side. You can also control the volume on the Echo Dot using Alexa. This is equivalent to turning the physical volume knob.
Echo Dot works with the Voice Remote for Amazon Echo
The Echo Dot is fully compatible with the highly sought after Voice Remote for the Amazon Echo. After pairing the remote using the Alexa app, you can use it to control media playback and volume on the Echo Dot. Of course, you can also use it to issue Alexa commands to the Dot. With external speakers connected to the Echo Dot, the voice remote essentially becomes a remote for those external speakers.
Wired external speakers bypass the Echo Dot’s internal speaker
If you connect a wired external speaker to the Echo Dot using the 3.5mm jack on the back of the device, the internal speaker is completely disabled. This means that, if external speakers are connected, you have to have your external speakers turned on to communicate with Alexa. I have written a separate article with more details about this that I recommend you read.
Echo Dot can be used as a Bluetooth Receiver
You probably already know that you can connect a Bluetooth speaker to the Echo Dot and output audio to the speaker. What you may not know is that the Echo Dot can also connect to a Bluetooth audio source and receive Bluetooth audio. If you pair something like a phone or tablet to the Echo Dot, you can play audio originating from the phone or tablet through the Echo Dot’s internal speaker. If you have a wired speaker connected to the Echo Dot, the audio will automatically be piped to the wired speaker, which essentially turns the Echo Dot into a middleman that adds Bluetooth functionality to your wired speakers, the same way a Bluetooth Receiver works. You cannot, however, have a Bluetooth speaker and a Bluetooth audio source connected to the Echo Dot simultaneously.
Extremely sticky base
The bottom of the Echo Dot is made entirely of a very sticky rubber. This is so that the whole device does not move when you turn the volume knob on the top, since the device is relatively light compared to the full sized Amazon Echo. The material is so sticky that it is capable of temporarily sticking the Echo Dot to a window.
Internal speaker faces downwards
The internal speaker of the Echo Dot faces downward. The bottom of the device has a ring of vent holes for the sound to escape. This was probably a deliberate decision because the Echo Dot sounds better while on a flat surface, since the sound bounces off the surface, than it does being held in the hand. If placed on fabric, the sound from the Echo Dot’s internal speaker will sound ever so slightly worse because you lose the echoing effect caused by a hard surface beneath the device.
Echo Dot can do everything the Amazon Echo can do
The Amazon Echo Dot can do everything the Amazon Echo can do. This is important because some Alexa-enabled devices, like the Fire TV, cannot do everything that the Echo can do. For example, Alexa on the Fire TV cannot use Spotify or control non-cloud based smart home devices like the Belkin Wemo line. The Echo Dot does not have these limitations. It can control all the smart home devices that the Echo can control, as well as use all the same services.