Anker is a company best known for their highly reviewed portable powerbanks and charging cables but they’ve been expanding into numerous other consumer electronics lately. They launched Eufy, a smart home brand, late last year with products like a robotic vacuum and a smart scale. Now they’ve released the Eufy Genie, an Alexa powered smart speaker that closely resembles the Amazon Echo Dot in both form and function. At $34.99, the Genie undercuts the Echo Dot by $15 and claims to have a better speaker, so I picked one up to see if it’s a good budget alternative to Amazon’s own smart speaker.
The Eufy Genie shares a lot in common with the Amazon Echo Dot. On top are a pair of volume buttons, a microphone mute button, and an action button, to manually trigger Alexa, in the same arrangement as the Echo Dot. In the center is a multi-color LED light ring, which imitates the one on the Echo Dot, and a backlit Eufy logo. Both the ring and logo light up when speaking to Alexa, but both are thankfully off when not being interacted with. There are also two small holes on top, which I assume are a pair of microphone openings, just below both the mute and action buttons.
Around back, again exactly like the Echo Dot, is a micro USB port used to power the device via an included power adapter and a 3.5 mm audio out jack used to connect the Eufy Genie to external speakers. Connecting an audio cable, which does come included in the box, to the audio out port will completely disable the internal speaker. Under the Genie is a rubber pad and speaker openings around the entire perimeter.
The Eufy Genie is a little taller and slightly wider than both the 1st and 2nd generation Echo Dot. The exterior shell is mostly a smooth glossy plastic with a smooth flat plastic base and top. The buttons on the Genie are difficult to locate by feel, since they do not protrude and are not separate from the rest of the top shell, which is very slightly domed.
One very unfortunate design choice was the decision to place the light ring in the center of the top, as opposed to along the outer edge of the top, like the Echo Dot. This means you can’t see the light ring unless you are positioned above the Eufy Genie. If you are sitting in a low couch/chair with the Genie positioned at eye level or above, or if you’re in bed with the Genie on a dresser, you can’t tell if the light ring is lit, so you have to go on faith that the Genie is hearing your voice command. With the Echo Dot, the light ring wraps around the outer edge, so you can clearly see it whether you’re positioned above or below the device.
The main advantage of the Eufy Genie over the Echo Dot, other than the lower price, is its better speaker. At around 70% volume, the Genie is about as loud as the Echo Dot is at maximum volume. With both devices at maximum volume, the Genie can almost drown out the Echo Dot. While I wouldn’t say the Echo Dot can fill a room with music, I would say that about the Genie.
Sheer loudness isn’t everything though. While it’s far from a night and day difference, the Genie is also a better sounding speaker. It produces a slightly richer sound than the Echo Dot with a hair more bass. If I were to rank the Genie with Amazon’s line of Alexa speakers on a scale from 1 to 10, with the worst being the Echo Dot as a 1 and the best being the Echo Show as a 10, I’d give the Genie a 3, the Amazon Tap a 7 and the original Echo a 9.
As far as the Eufy Genie’s ability to hear Alexa commands, I was surprisingly impressed. In a quiet house, the Genie could hear me as accurately and from as far away as the Echo Dot. With both the genie and the Echo Dot playing music next to each other, I found that the Genie did a consistently better job of hearing me say commands.
So the Eufy Genie is cheaper, sounds better, and even hears better than the Echo Dot. Nobody should ever buy an Echo Dot again, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, the Genie is not equivalent to the Echo Dot when it comes to software and Alexa features, and it’s in places that will be a deal breaker for many. The biggest issue is that the Genie does not work with Amazon’s Echo Spatial Perception (ESP) feature.
ESP is what allows multiple Echo devices to determine which one is closest to you so that only one responds and executes your request. In a home with multiple Alexa devices, this feature is crucial to a good experience. Since the Eufy Genie does not have ESP, it will always respond if it hears an Alexa command, even if it isn’t the closest Alexa device.
What’s worse is that you cannot change the wake word of the Eufy Genie. I was hoping to work around the Genie not having ESP by giving it its own wake word that no other device uses, but that’s not possible. I’d have to set all other devices to use something other than Alexa, which is not worth it for me. This has resulted in the Genie being forever muted because having it respond along with another Alexa device every time a command is given in my small house is too much of a headache.
Not being an official Amazon device also means certain Alexa features are not available on the Genie. It’s also likely future features will take longer to come to the Genie. While it can currently do almost everything the Echo Dot can do, including control a Fire TV, it cannot send or receive calls and messages. You also can’t configure any sound options either.
The Eufy Genie can play music from Amazon Music Unlimited or from Prime Music, but it cannot access some of the other music services that Echo devices can. Currently, the Eufy app says Pandora support is coming in two weeks and that it will use the same configuration as is in the Alexa app. However, for Spotify, you must use the Spotify app to configure music through the Genie. The Genie also does not have any Bluetooth capabilities, so it cannot be wirelessly connected to a phone.
For a house that already has other Alexa devices, it’s very difficult to recommend the Eufy Genie based on the lack of ESP alone. If you place it close enough to where it can hear you when you speak to another Alexa device, you’re going to quickly hate the Genie and leave it muted. But if you have a spot to place it where it’s isolated from other Alexa devices, it’s a great product for the price. It’s probably never going to do everything the Echo devices can do, but if the few missing features don’t bother you, it’s a great inexpensive way to add a voice speaker and interface to any location. The Eufy Genie is available now for $34.99 with additional Eufy smart home products, like a new RoboVac, lights, and outlets coming soon.