Friday, December 31, 2021

Tech: Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) review

A client of mine was kind enough to send me a small Christmas gift - a fourth-generation Amazon Echo Dot home "smart speaker":

The Echo Dot is one of those products that nobody needs but everybody can find a use for. You can rig it to control your lights, you can ask it what the weather is going to be like, you can set up a home intercom. I grant that Jeff Bezos might be using the voice-recognition data for something vaguely sinister, but if you're hooking one of these suckers up to your home wi-fi, privacy probably isn't your chief concern.

In my case, we used the Echo Dot to play background Christmas music for our family get-togethers. The sound quality isn't anything to write home about, but it was really easy to do (as simple as saying, "Alexa, play Christmas music"). We also set up kitchen timers for holiday baking and got showtimes for local movies - plenty of functionality for a $30 device. 

The one (major) drawback to the Echo Dot is the total lack of a display.  You can't use this device to monitor a video doorbell or play YouTube videos like you can with Google Nest or even Amazon's own Echo Show, and it makes getting driving directions or setting multiple timers problematic. Sure, you can use your phone or tablet to compensate, but at that point, why have a smart home device at all?


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