Amazon Echo Dot: Price, performance, features compared

Amazon Echo Dot (2nd gen)
Amazon Echo Dot (2nd gen)

Amazon Echo Dot at a glance

What is the Amazon Echo Dot? A budget, compact version of the Amazon Echo, designed to turn any speaker into a smart speaker.

When did the Amazon Echo Dot come out? The original Echo Dot launched alongside the Echo and Echo Plus in Australia in early February 2018. A third-generation Echo Dot is slated for release on 11 October 2018.

How much does the Amazon Echo Dot cost? The Amazon Echo costs $79, though Amazon regularly drops the price for sale events.

What is Amazon Echo Dot?

Amazon Echo Dot is a smaller version of Amazon Echo, Amazon's voice-controlled smart speaker. While Echo Dot retains all of Echo's core features, it sacrifices Echo's large, high-quality audio speaker for a smaller built-in one. This allows Echo Dot to be a fraction of the size, weight and cost of its bigger brother, but it comes at the expense of significantly lower audio quality.

To make up for this, you can connect Echo Dot to external speakers via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm audio cable. This is especially appealing if you already own a decent set of speakers since Echo Dot comes in at less than a third of the price of the regular Echo.

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation)

In September 2018, Amazon announced a new version of the Echo Dot speaker that, like most Echo revisions, isn't all that different from the original Echo Dot. Amazon has upgraded the speaker slightly, replacing the old 0.6-inch tweeter with a new 1.6-inch speaker. The 3rd generation model also sports a fabric design as opposed to the all-plastic look of the original Echo Dot. Other than that, it offers all the same features as its predecessor.

What can Amazon Echo Dot do?

Amazon Echo Dot can perform all the same functions as Amazon Echo via Alexa, Amazon's virtual personal assistant. These include answering questions; providing news, weather and traffic information; playing music and controlling other smart devices around your house. Since Alexa uses a cloud-based voice service to understand what you're saying, Echo Dot requires a constant Internet connection to function.

On the music front, Echo Dot can play tracks from your Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and Amazon Music libraries as well as stream tracks from Apple Music and Google Play Music via a phone or tablet. Echo Dot will also read your audiobooks from your Audible library.

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While Echo Dot will happily play music through its small built-in speaker, it's not built for the same high-quality audio output the regular Echo is. You'll want to hook up a nice set of external speakers if you plan on listening to your tunes in a party setting or at higher volumes.

Hands-free voice calls, on the other hand, work just fine with Echo Dot's internal speaker. Alexa can only place calls and send messages to someone who also owns an Echo Dot, Echo or uses the Alexa app, but on the upside, you won't have to pay a cent no matter how long you talk.

Voice-shopping is another of Echo Dot's big features. Provided you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can have Alexa order almost anything from Amazon's digital shelves with a single voice command. However, non-Prime members can only add items to their shopping cart and then use the Amazon website or mobile app to check out later. Both Prime and non-Prime members can also tell Alexa to add products to their shopping lists, which is especially handy if you tend to forget things when you're down at the supermarket.

Echo Dot's features aren't set in stone, either. Thanks to a development platform known as Alexa Skills Kit, anyone can build new functionality into Alexa and release it for download through Amazon. This way, Alexa can be upgraded to recognise new commands, work with the latest smart devices and react more naturally to your requests.

What other devices is Amazon Echo Dot compatible with?

Amazon Echo Dot can act as a command hub for a wide range of smart-home devices, including TP-Link smart plugs, LIFX LED lights, Honeywell thermostats and Leviton light dimmers. By issuing voice commands to Alexa, you can activate, deactivate and adjust all these devices without ever getting up off the couch.

Echo Dot is also compatible with other devices in Amazon's Alexa range. These include its bigger brother, Amazon Echo, the portable Amazon Tap, the Amazon Echo Look smart camera and the latest addition Amazon Echo Show, which features a built-in LCD screen.

When will Amazon Echo Dot be available in Australia?

Amazon started taking pre-orders for Echo Dot here in Australia on 18 January 2018, with expectations to ship the devices out in early February. JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks and other retail stores should start selling the Echo Dot around that same time, too.

How much will Amazon Echo Dot cost?

Amazon Echo Dot normally goes for $79 Down Under, but for a limited time, Amazon is cutting $30 off the price and selling it for $49 as part of its Echo launch promotion.

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Stay tuned for our full Amazon Echo Dot review

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Name Amazon Echo Dot (2nd gen)
Assistant Alexa
Wireless Network 802.11a/b/g/n (2.4GHz/5GHz)
Weight (grams) 163
Height (mm) 32
Width (mm) 84
Depth (mm) 84
Speaker Information N/A
Bluetooth Yes
Min. Frequency Response (Hz)
Max. Frequency Response (Hz)
Audio Out Yes
Water Rating N/A
Review Score
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