Amazon would he have succeeded with his Echo Dot (4th gen) where Apple keeps failing with his HomePod (now mini)? This is kind of the question that stuck in my head after a few days spent in the company of the small connected speaker of the e-commerce giant. The Echo Dot is presented as the entry ticket (very accessible) for Alexa, or rather for the Amazon ecosystem which revolves around Alexa. All in curves, this accessory claims in fact a lot with ease, from listening to music (via Amazon Music) to the alarm clock radio through home automation, reading Audible books without forgetting utility functions (weather forecast of course, but also reminder of the contents of the Amazon basket for example). And frankly, everything that is on offer is (almost) convincing.
A sober look if not original
Out of its box, the 4th generation Echo Dot comes in the form of a grayish sphere with one of the poles bevelled. A not really original look (the speaker looks a lot like a HomePod mini), but which remains very sober and can be forgotten on a night table or on the living room furniture. The installation of the accessory could not be simpler: everything goes through the app Alexa (available on iOS and Android) and it’s even faster if you already have an Amazon Prime account (which is my case). Pairing between the speaker and the app is fast and flawless, and in my case, the only entry was limited to the WiFi code. Everything is fine. An RGB LED circle placed at the base of the speaker lights up in blue on the first activation, then underlines each action by varying the colors and intensity (notification, response to a request, launch of a song, etc. ). On the top of the device, 4 symbol buttons correspond to volume management and microphone activation / deactivation. This is finely seen in the era of revelations about the indiscretions of our digital devices. Finally, an LED display well hidden under the textured layer allows you to display the time in alarm mode.
As much to warn right away, we will not make an exhaustive list of all the actions managed by Alexa, but there is a hell of a lot! The most obvious are music playback from its Amazon Music library, recalling the contents of its Amazon basket, wake-up mode, initiating calls, but there are in fact a host of more original and well-seen options such as the possibility of personalizing Alexa’s answers, the creation of routines (for example a “start the day” routine can include the weather forecast, then road traffic information to the office, then read the main news of the day, etc.) , the call of other connected Echo devices (Dot, Show) by Drop In, thus transformed into intercoms, the reading of Audible books, etc. Most satisfying? Everything remains easy to access, no function is lost and the app supports the user at every step.
Another little mentioned strong point of the Dot, its beautiful galaxy of dedicated accessories
Music listening: can really do better
Compared to a HomePod mini, what exactly is it? It’s quite simple, the versatility of the Echo Dot, the richness of its functions and the responsiveness of the voice assistant Alexa potentially transform the Dot into a basic link (admittedly limited) of a home automation chain while the HomePod mini is above all “content” to be a (good) connected speaker mainly intended for listening to music. If Alexa and its related function satellites are the (very) great strength of the Dot (Siri suddenly seems quite frustrated), the HomePod mini largely makes up for the sound quality. On the Echo Dot in fact, the sound rendering is a little muffled, lack of spatialization and sound power, and sometimes even of precision. It’s clearly not great, but it’s not a disaster either and should be more than enough for the songs that we listen to “in the background”.
Conclusion: A smart speaker small in size but rich in functions
Really very rich in functions and equipped with a very powerful Alexa voice assistant, the Echo Dot is a small attractive connected speaker, which one will inevitably want to use beyond its basic function of musical speakers. The icing on the HP, the Dot also has a beautiful galaxies of accessories of all kinds, a hardware ecosystem that has long been the prerogative of Apple products. Too bad the sound rendering is much further back, otherwise, and especially at this price, it was almost the “perfect”.
The Amazon Echo Dot is available on Amazon (of course) at the exceptional price of 29.99 euros instead of 59.99 euros, Black Friday requires. if you want to take advantage of it, it will be necessary to act quickly, the offer ends this evening at midnight.