I’ve been on vacation the last week. However, now I’m back and ready to give you the best tips, tricks, and reviews for Amazon Alexa and Amazon Echo products.
I was supposed to receive my Echo Dot while I was on vacation, but it arrived a week earlier than I expected on April Fool’s Day. Luckily it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke.
I earmarked the Echo Dot for the bedroom. My house isn’t big, so having upstairs and one downstairs seemed to make the most sense. I thought the main uses would be for music during showers and folding clothes. That would hardly be the best use of $90, but I wanted to get it to review here as well.
On the first day, I learned that I would use it more than I expected. For example, I often get up very early and go to bed late. This gives me a time in the middle of the day where I crash. I have found that a short nap is a perfect fix. I would use the timer on my cell phone because I didn’t want to disrupt my wife’s alarm or do math. For me, that meant entering an Android app, setting the time to sleep, and then setting the phone to “Alarms Only” so that I wouldn’t be disturbed. When I wake up, I have to remember to put the phone back in normal mode or miss phone calls.
It’s not the biggest of problems, but it’s certainly much easier to leave my phone downstairs and say, “Alexa, set a timer for 40 minutes.”
It’s a minor convenience, but a bunch of minor conveniences add up over time. Let’s look at…
The Long-term Cost of the Echo Dot
At $90, I thought it was fairly expensive. However, if you only had it for one year, it’s around 25 cents a day. At two years, it’s around 12.5 cents a day. At 3 years, it is around 8 cents a day. Since it is a one-time fixed cost, the price per day gets cheaper each year.
Unlike many electronics, I don’t see a reason to upgrade. There are no moving parts so it is unlikely to break. I don’t intend to be mobile with it (more on that later) too often, so it’s unlikely to get much physical contact. The main use is to access the cloud, and it can reasonably do that as long as Amazon keeps Alexa running (which doesn’t look like it is in any danger of ending any time soon). I could see myself using the Echo Dot for 10 years or more. That would bring the cost down to around 75 cents per month… not bad right?
If Amazon comes out with something that gives me a significant reason to upgrade there will likely still be a market for the Echo Dot on Ebay. I figure I should be able to get at least $50 for it (unless Amazon routinely runs deals on it like they do their tablets). The effective cost might be $40 for 2 or more years worth of use.
Solving the Speaker Part of the Echo Dot Solution
The Echo Dot has a small speaker, but to be honest, I haven’t really tried it. That may make me a bad reviewer. However, I think the general market for this is for people to add Alexa capabilities to their existing speaker solutions. I originally thought that I’d use my Oontz Angle Bluetooth Speaker with it, but I went in another direction. The Oontz is around $28 which make the total price of the Echo Dot and Oontz around $120… quite a bit less than the current price of the Amazon Echo at $180.
I decided not to pair the Echo Dot with the Oontz because I found, these Philips Bookshelf speakers on Meh.com for $28. I saw that they typically run nearly $100 elsewhere, even on Amazon, so I jumped. These speakers have Bluetooth, but I used the line-in into the Echo Dot and they sound great to me (Note: I’m no audiophile). Many of the comments on Meh.com suggested that they typically have speaker deals and that this wasn’t anything special. Nonetheless, they do the job for a small bedroom.
The Echo Dot is Portable
It isn’t portable in the same way as the Amazon Tap… it doesn’t have a battery. However, I Won’t Buy an Amazon Tap (Yet), because it isn’t always listening and hands free.
However, the Echo Dot is portable in another way… it is small enough to travel with very easily. I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to bring the Echo Dot on vacation with me, but I did. Unfortunately, it was a crazy-busy vacation and I never had the chance to plug it in and play with it.
If I had more time, I think combination of the Dot with my Oontz would be very compelling. They don’t take up much space and the Oontz is a useful battery-powered travel speaker in it’s own right. There’s a value to the modularity of the Echo Dot and a Bluetooth speaker with travel. You can use either one alone or combine them to create something similar to Echo without taking up the space.
Final Thoughts on the Echo Dot
As Dennis Green famously said, “They are what we thought they were”:
Fortunately, we have a much more positive result than he did.
The Echo Dot is what we thought it was. That means it is everything the Amazon Echo is, without the speaker for half the price. It may sound expensive at first, but when you view it as a long-term purchase with no subscription fees, it’s easy to see it as money well spent.