- In order to setup the Echo Dot, you will need to download the Alexa App and follow the instructions for setting up another device. I chose to setup the Echo Dot, as that was the device I bought.
2) Next you will need to connect the Echo Dot to the wifi. This went very smoothly with my BT Home Hub 6, with no hiccups whatsoever.
Once setup, you are ready to go. I was pleasantly surprised at how loud the speaker can go on the Echo Dot – albeit a little light on the bass – but much better than the iPhone speaker. The Amazon Echo Dot lights up with a blue ring whenever it hears the name ‘Alexa’ being called, and waits for further instructions before responding to what you ask it to do.
Now the integration with the App is key for certain functions such as adding to a Shopping list or To do list, as then it can be referred to when out of the house. The App also shows up the various things you asked Alexa to do, for example when I asked it how high was Mount Everst, it had a picture of Mount Everest on the App and that its height was 29,029 feet (8,848 metres).
What I like about the Amazon Echo Dot?
- It is small and relatively inexpensive, and seems to work well simply by voice control – no need to press a button or switch on a phone to activate it.
- It promises to do many different things such as provide information, play music and even automate certain home devices such as lights, thermostats, and potentially even more once I buy a few other devices to pair with it. It could even tell jokes when asked to. It did play music from Amazon when I asked it to, which prompted my youngest daughter to join in and sing and dance to the music.
- The speaker is reasonably loud, so it is possible to hear Alexa even in a large bedroom.
What could be improved?
- There are limits to what Alexa can do. For example, it could not tell us what is on television in UK at the time of asking (as she did not have access to the UK television schedules), it could not understand when I asked her to find me a recipe for banana pancakes, it could not even ask my youngest daughter to go to bed.
- Alexa uses Bing as its search engine for information & it does not look possible to change default search engine – I don’t like Bing as I find it an inferior search engine compared to others such as Google. Other users may not feel the same way though.
So far, Alexa seems to be working well for the simple tasks I have asked it to do, albeit with some limitations. But it will be interesting to see how she fares when I start using it to control other devices, which was the main reason for me to buy it in the first place. Home automation may have been only science fiction and what we see in the movies, but it is now a reality and we should embrace it. Some may view it as being lazy, but I see it as making more efficient use of our time.
I would recommend the Amazon Echo Dot currently, particularly if you wish to integrate it to your existing sound system (others may choose to buy the more expensive Amazon Echo which has a larger speaker). But when the other accessories I have ordered to use with the Echo Dot arrive, then I can truly test what Alexa promises to be able to do (so more to follow).
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