Top positive review
Awesome as a bluetooth receiver. Awesome as a smart speaker.
August 1, 2018
To be frank, I bought the Echo Dot to use as an "always-on" bluetooth audio receiver for my external speakers. At the Prime Day price, it was a no brainer, and Alexa was the icing on top. Any similar bluetooth receiver (ala Logitech Bluetooth Audio Receiver) would have costed roughly the same, if not more. QA issues aside, cheaper bluetooth audio receivers normally require a manual button press to power up / wake from sleep every time it is used. Being the lazy person that I am, that is not an option.
My demands were quite simple really. I have an old 2.1 speaker system and I want to be able to use them wirelessly from my phone, tablet, or PC. And as it turns out, meeting the demand was just as simple:
1. Power on Echo Dot, and set it up via the Alexa app.
2. Using a cheapo 3.5mm to 2x RCA stereo audio cable, connect the Echo Dot's AUX output to speaker's audio inputs.
3. Turn on Bluetooth discovery from your phone / tablet / PC.
4. Say "Alexa, pair bluetooth" and Alexa will make the Echo Dot a discoverable bluetooth device.
5. Connect to the Echo Dot from your device, and play some tunes from it.
Over the past few weeks of ownership, bluetooth audio performance and stability have been rock solid. Like any spoiled brat, I began wanting more from Alexa, and you know what.. she delivers! She delivers a succulent pacifier straight into my mouth!
Alexa, turn on my kitchen lights. Alexa, set temperature to 24 degrees. Alexa, what's the weather like outside? Alexa, wake me up at 8am tomorrow. Alexa, play Justin Bieber... er.... I mean Metallica. What bluetooth audio receiver could do or answered any of that?? I really couldn't ask for more. Pairing home automation products with Alexa can't be more simpler. In the skills section of the Alexa app, you can connect to almost every home automation product out there. Nest, Ecobee, TP-link Kasa, Hue, Lutron Connect, Ring.. take your pick. Add the skill, log into the service, and Alexa will scan all the devices you have and that's it. Now you can join the club of people who speak with Alexa like they have the worst case of dementia.
In terms of Alexa herself, I have read a few reviews stating that there was a significant delay when issuing commands to smart home devices (10 seconds). In my experience, it was nearly instantaneous whether it was to turn on my smart light switches or controlling the room temperature. Maybe some updates along the way have addressed this. I have also read that Alexa's voice sometimes sound a bit robotic compared to say Google Assistant. While this is true, she gets the job done and that's all that really matters to me.
The part I like the most is the "Drop in" feature. I can be away from Home and literally drop in on my family. All I have to do is hit the "Drop In" button from the Alexa app from my phone and get connected to the Echo Dot at home. I can then speak to them instantly through the Echo Dot's speakers (or in my case my 2.1 speaker set). It's almost like striking a conversation with someone at home as if I'm there versus calling or messaging.
Packaging wise, it's quite lean but more than adequate. A glossy puck, USB charger, USB charging cable and some quick user guides is all you'll get with the device. Thankfully, it's all you'll need too to get started.
The only cons I can see is the low quality output from the built in speakers. Given the dimensions of this tiny puck, my expectations were not high to begin with. However, it must be said that maximum volume is not as low as I expected either. It's definitely enough for an average room. If you desire a higher quality output and higher volumes, at least you have the option to connect to external speakers unlike other pucks like the home mini.
Overall, the Echo was more than I could ever ask for in my use case. I <3 Alexa. 5/5