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Echo Dot (2nd Generation): Best New Upgrades
Echo Dot (2nd Generation): Three New Features
Amazon's 2nd generation Echo Dot is an updated version of its original sold-out mini smart speaker.
The new Dot has 3 new features that make it worth buying:
- Sleeker design that comes in two colors: black/white
- Improved speech processor for voice accuracy
- Echo Spatial Perception (ESP) for multiple device detection
The first feature is mostly related to how it'll look and the design.
The upgraded version is more compact and look a bit sleeker. It's not a significant difference but it's definitely noticeable if you've ever owned the first generation. They also removed the volume ring rotating feature, instead opting for volume control buttons.
The second great feature is the improved speech processor, which was one of the things that bothered me about the previous Echo Dot. For audiophiles this improves Alexa's listening capabilities even with sound or music playing in the background.
Finally a cool new tech boost is the Echo Spatial Perception, which is fantastic if you have numerous Echo or Echo Dot products in your home.
Having this boost means you won't set off several devices when you say "Alexa", but rather the closest one to you.
With the Echo Dot (2nd generation), it'll make creating smart homes that much easier.
The $50 Echo Dot (2nd Gen)
Buy 3 Echo Dots, Save $20
The biggest selling point of these 2nd gen products is that they're much cheaper than its predecessor.
2nd Generation Echo Dot is only $49.99 vs. $89.99 for the original version.
And for an added bonus you can buy 3 Echo Dots and save $20 off your order, which would still be less expensive than the Amazon Echo, Echo Look, or Echo Show.
With those deals it's obvious that Amazon wants you to place a Dot for every room in your home, and for that price it's not a bad marketing ploy.
The previous Echo Dot was arguably the best smart speaker we've seen, even better than the Echo, and these extra tweaks are going to make it stronger.
If you've ever been curious about smart home products, then it doesn't get any better (and cheaper) than the 2nd generation Dot.
And it that doesn't convince you to try it out, then Amazon is bundling their product with other smart home devices like Philips Hue bulbs for a much lower price than they'd be separately.
Owning smart products has never been cheaper, and it's a sign of things to come for the emerging internet of things (IoT) consumer market.
Echo Dot Arrives in Europe
European Smart Home
Finally the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot are expanding beyond the United States and into the UK and Germany.
This should usher in a slew of customers and people who've always been curious about these mysterious smart speakers. It'll also be the first time that Alexa will receive a vocal makeover.
Alexa is expected to have a UK accent and know several expressions tied with the English/British dialect.
There's no question that Amazon wants to expand Alexa's speech recognition software so it can enunciate multiple language and dialects, but don't expect her to turn into Google Translate anytime soon.
Still it makes me happy to see our overseas neighbors get involved in exciting innovations that are being furthered.
In addition, this expansion could set the smart home and the internet of things into motion for 2017 and beyond.
So far it's been a very slow integration process but now other countries can too setup Echos around their homes and develop their own European smart homes.
The Amazon Smart Home
Smart Home Problems
Amazon is going all-in on the smart home given Alexa's growing list of connections with other companies.
However the problem of mass customer deployment has constantly come down to three things:
Smart devices are not cheap particularly when you have to purchase multiple units to get some of your lights to work.
For example; SmartThings requires a hub, light bulbs or light switches for it to function.
Setting up a complete smart home will cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars depending on the size of your house. There are simply too many gadgets to connect, and it can be frustrating if they stop functioning due to connectivity problems.
Finally security will be a huge challenge because hackers are running rampant. Not too long ago we've seen how easily smart locks were able to get hacked, broken into, which is unacceptable.
I believe privacy/security will be the greatest hurdle to overcome in the years ahead.
For Amazon however, they remain confident that more and more people will want to invest in their products. At the very least they've managed to tackle the pricing issue that has stopped consumers from becoming invested.
How to Setup Alexa in Every Room
Amazon Alexa in Your Home
If you take advantage of the buy 3, save $20 Echo Dot deal, then you can easily place Alexa in every room of your home.
Setting up your devices is simple; you just have to do these three things:
- Download Amazon Alexa app and log-in using Amazon account
- Press and hold "Action Button" to launch set-up mode
- Follow instructions to connect your WiFi network with each device
Remember that all these gadgets require a strong internet connection, so make sure your WiFi can reach any room in your house where you have an Echo device.
If you're unsure how strong your internet connection is, then download the Ookla speed test app to test it. For out of range networks, I'd recommend getting a WiFi range extender.
Once you have your devices setup, then follow the Alexa-app guidelines to learn about new features, skills, and the other numerous things Alexa can do.
Since the Echo Dot 2 has the Echo Spatial Perception, you don't have to change the devices' "Alexa" wake word to activate it.
You'll have Amazon Alexa at your command to perform as many tasks as you want.
Why You Should Buy Echo Dot (2nd Generation)
The Best Skills of Echo Dot
Like the Echo, the Echo Dot can play music, control smart devices, access 1000's of Alexa skills, and be your personal alarm clock/timer all via voice.
However unlike the Amazon Echo, the Dot is much cheaper ($180 for Echo vs. $50 for Echo Dot), it has a 3.5 mm output that allows it to connect to other speakers, and it comes with awesome bundles through Amazon.com.
The Echo Dot 2 is the product we've been waiting for and now it's finally here.
Alexa will have her time to shine and consumers will be much happier than they were when the Amazon Echo launched.
There's enough usefulness and options that makes this product an absolute steal. We have never seen a cheaper and more efficient smart gadget, and it's only going to get better.
Since the software upgrades are done over the Cloud, you can expect Alexa to get smarter and more accurate.
Like I said at the beginning of this article, if you've always been curious but feared the cost, then this is the perfect opportunity to take that step.
I've owned these products for a while, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next generation of Amazon Echo and Echo Dot gadgets.