This is the Echo Dot from Amazon, the Chromecast audio of Amazon Echos (that's how I like to think of it). What's so special about the Echo Dot is the ability to turn any speaker with an auxilliary jack into an ultra-smart connected speaker with an absolutely lovely voice assistant named Alexa.
In the box, you'll basiclaly find the Echo Dot, an auxilliary cable and a power cable-- that's pretty much all you need to set this guy up. The build is reminscent of the Amazon Echo in nearly every way. The only thing missing is a speaker and a cavity needed to produce a good sound. Since it doesn't have all that, it's actually much shorter measuring in at almost two inches in height. You'll find the top portion of the device is one big volume ring with the light ring built-in there as well as an action button and a mute button on top. It features a 7-microphone array on top similar to the bigger, more expensive Echo. What's different is that in addition to a power port on the rear, you have a 3.5mm audio jack here used to connect to a standalone speaker or audio receiver of your choice. In my testing, I paired the Echo Dot up with the Audioengine B2 Bluetooth speaker. This speaker looks great. It has a lot of finish and it matches the décor in my apartment, at least more so than the black Amazon Echo, which is not the most elegant piece of tech for my Scandinavian themed décor. The other reason is because the speaker sounds very good. The 2.75-inch Kevlar woofers and ¾-inch silk dome tweeters deliver superior sound than the Echo, I would say. When I listened to the news or talk shows, I listened through the Amazon Echo because I actually enjoy the deep, rich base the cylindrical speaker produces. But when it comes to actually listening to music, I certainly do prefer the Audioengine B2 speaker that I have connected to the Echo Dot and vice versa.
So the Echo Dot has the best of both worlds-- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. It can play music from Pandora, Spotify, and Amazon Music over Wi-Fi. And if you want to play music from your phone or tablet for example, you can easily ask Alexa to pair connect it to a speaker of your choice.
If you haven't seen the full review of our Amazon Echo, I'm going to link that in the description because in that video, I walked through a lot of the voice commands you can use with Alexa; all of which are present on the Dot. But since several months have passed since that review, Alexa has been updated with additional features. She's based in the Cloud so she's always evolving, always getting smarter. Some of the new features Amazon is calling skills; for example, she can now order pizza from Domino's, ask Uber to request a ride, ask Huffington Post for headlines and deliver TV schedules and local business hours as well. She can even connect to a wider range of smart connected devices like Samsung's SmartThings WeMo, Wink, Nest, Ecobee, Huge, Insteon and LIFX just to name a few. Believe it or not, I've actually been waiting for a device like the Echo Dot ever since the original Echo was released because I wanted to turn my premium speakers into Connected Speakers and of course, I love Alexa, the voice assistant.
I mentioned the Echo Dot is a lot like Chromecast Audio but that's only because there are a handful accessories that effectively turn ordinary speakers into Smart Connected speakers. The Echo Dot is similar to Chromecast Audio but it's much more functional, way more convenient, and certainly way more fun. What I have yet to mention is the Echo Dot's price of $90, half the price of the Echo. For that price, the Echo Dot is actually a steal. It has no compromises from the bigger Echo besides the built-in speaker functionality. Chances are, you have a better, more premium speaker like the Audioengine B2 you can use. So I warmly welcome the new Echo Dot to the family of Echo devices. I can imagine it selling like hotcakes because of how capable it is. You can only purchase the Echo Dot if you own an Echo. However, there is actually a way to get around the system so I'll leave a link to an article explaining how to do just that. Orders are backlogged until mid-July so you might want to place your order now for backlogged to further 2017 (like I said) since the Amazon Echo Dot is going to sell very well.