10 things to know about the Amazon Echo Dot

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.


  1. Freemz says:

    Great info above, the only downside is that you can’t get Rcho products in the UK, I would like the Echo Dot but not willing to pay 2-3 times the price on ebay. Shame.

    Maybe Amazon could get into the car stereo business, Alexa would be great in the car.

    • bill says:

      “not willing to pay 2-3 times the price on ebay. Shame.”

      they are $120-150. thats a 35% increase, not including the price of an annual prime membership and the fact that they are sold out till August. In your theory, they would be $192-288. Either your math is off or you exaggerate to make someone feel sorry (?) for you or something I dont know. Shame.

      • Freemz says:

        They translate from $89.99 to £63 (approx) they are on ebay for approx £125.00 (inc postage) so that $177 – so just about double, some sellers have them at just under £200 – $284.00 – 3 times the price.

        As you may have noticed I did state in the UK, it is ebay UK that I refer to.

        So…..No exaggeration there and not wanting anyone to feel sorry for me, that was not the point, the point is I would like one but I would not pay over the odds for one!

  2. Jon says:

    Great summary on all the important bits no one really covers. This is really helpful as I prepare for my dot. Do you know if it is possible to transmit the bluetooth audio to a Mac? I have done some research and it doesn’t look like the Mac can act as a bluetooth receiver (without some accessories). If this doesn’t work natively, perhaps there is a software solution someone knows about. I would love to get the sounds into my Mac, and use airfoil to pipe it around the house. The headphone jack on my Mac is occupied.

    • Techno says:

      If nothing else works, would you not be able to maybe use a headphone splitter so that you can have two aux cables going into your Mac?

      • Jon says:

        That is a possibility; thanks, Techno. I have never really used the headphone jack as an input on my iMac, but I think this would work in theory. I wonder if the jack can be used as an input and output simultaneously. I have a 2.1 logitech speaker system connected to the jack now. Ideally, I would not have a ton of cables hanging off my mac. I also prefer to set the dot across the room from my mac, so hardwiring it into the mac or the connected logitech speakers would not be not my set-up of choice. Nonetheless, I have been looking at splitters, bluetooth receivers, and usb line-in dongles as options in case nothing else works. It would be nice to avoid the extra cost of these accessories.

        I did experiment just now with a pair of bluetooth headphones with an in-line mic, and I was able to use the mic to send audio to the mac and through the house speakers via airfoil. I was not expecting that to work, but I was able to use the bluetooth device as an audio source. This is promising. So, I am wondering if this would work with the dot. Is anyone able to pair the dot to a mac and have it appear as an audio input device? The sound from my bluetooth headset was pretty bad, but it is a cheap little mic which was really meant for quick phone calls. I realize a hardwire connection would result in better sound; but if I could get the bluetooth audio on the echo into my mac at a decent quality, that would be awesome.

        Thanks, everyone!! I am looking forward to receiving the dot at the end of the month and am even toying with buying a second for upstairs. I can see how an audio setup would get complicated by these devices (especially if you have multiple) in a home.

  3. Toona says:

    So using a Dot as a bluetooth reciever, could I connect the AFTV to the Dot and hardwire 3.5mm audio to the speaker? and then just “Alexa disconnect bluetooth” to play content with voice control without carrying around the remote from the AFTV?

  4. Arkived says:

    I tried the method with the Bluetooth receive and it always immediately reconnects when I try to disconnect it. Using the amazon basics receive. Anyone have any ideas?

  5. Diane says:

    I have Alexa echo …do I connect or sync the dot to it. How do I hook up dot. No instructions but plug in?

    • Thomas Pratt says:

      you simply set it up to your Amazon account, nothing to sync :-)

      all of your main settings for the “Alexa” service are for all of your devices…our household currently has 4, the Echo in our kitchen/breakfast room area, a Tap that my wife uses to take outside or anywhere in the house she may want her music, and 2 Dot’s on my 15 and 18 yr olds nightstand paired to their BT soundbars in their room

  6. Bob Loblaw says:

    If connected to an an external speaker, either via bluetooth or 3.5mm, will the external speaker automatically turn on when you engage alexa with a command? For example, if I say “Alexa, play flash briefing” will it play through an external speaker or will I have to go turn on the external speaker each time I want to use it?

    Thank you!

  7. Jessica Sheets says:

    would alexa or the echo be able to send the TV sound to a set of bluetooth headphones? IE: If I want to watch TV and my husband doesn’t want to hear it. thanks!!

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