Amazon Echo Dot Review: Capable Speaker With Minor Flaws

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot is currently available in India with exciting offers. In addition to the Echo Dot, Amazon also launched Echo and Echo Plus smart speakers in India. The Echo series speakers are powered by Alexa voice assistant, which is capable of fetching news, weather and other related information including the ability to play music and radio stations. You can also set timers and alarms, which helps you to improve productivity. We purchased (pre-ordered) Amazon Eco Dot during Diwali. It was a long wait since the e-commerce retailer shipped the device after three weeks. In this review, we will examine the usage and functioning of the Echo Dot smart voice-enabled speaker with real video proof.

Unboxing

Unlike other standard Amazon gadgets, the Echo Dot is packaged in a blue box with the important features listed on the front and rear side. Inside the box, you will find a black paper material with the Echo Dot device, user manual, skills card including AC adapter and USB cable. It is absolutely essential for you to keep the AC adapter in a safe place since you can’t make use of any other adapters.

Amazon Echo Dot

Installation

The first step is to connect the power adapter to the Echo Dot and then to the power source. You need to install the Alexa app available on Google Play Store. After the installation, you should perform the required steps as prompted by the app. This includes establishing connectivity with the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and setting up region. You should select India to enable the device to play local content.

The whole process was a bit tricky for us to complete. The user manual only provides few details. The worst thing is that the app was slow even with Honor 6X smartphone. We changed the smartphone to LeEco Le 2 and it worked well. However, the Echo Dot speaker frequently disconnects from the network and we had to power on the speaker again. You need to wait for several minutes to enable the app to finish the tasks. Amazon has refreshed the Alexa app by adding several features, improvements, and fluid user interface.

Working

The first and foremost thing is that Amazon Echo Dot is very smart in recognizing your voice from any direction. There is no need for you to sit near the speaker and tell the commands. The integration of seven microphones coupled with beam-forming technology, far-field recognition, and enhanced noise cancellation really worked well.

We tested Echo Dot after turning on the loud water motor and it worked like a charm. Moreover, the speaker recognized the voice even when we rendered the commands from a long distance. Sometimes, we had to tell “Alexa” several times to enable the Echo Dot to wake up. It will take few days for the speaker to establish a friendship with yourself.

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Amazon Echo Dot

When we stopped saying “Tii”, the Echo Speaker recognized it as a timer. The alarm functionality works really well and sharp. However, the alarm sounds continuously until we shout “Alexa stop”. Actually, there is no need for you to shout. You just need to tell the commands freely and the speaker will be able to understand them easily. The reminder functionality also works great and it prompts you to perform a specific action at the relevant time. Sometimes, we need to tell “Alexa Stop” several times before the speaker stops

Normal Commands

The Echo Dot managed to provide answers to all simple questions instantly. It is also capable of performing calculations. We found that the speaker was unable to understand certain things and it provided some other answers.

Music playback

We were excited during the entire installation phase because of its ability to play music. However, when we asked “Alexa, play a Bollywood song”, the Echo Dot returned with the name of the song followed by Amazon Music. That’s it. The speaker never played the music via Amazon Music. Alternatively, we tested the music playback via Saavn and it worked out well. We were able to hear music from Saavn streaming service.

Amazon Echo Dot

We tested Echo Dot by saying “Alexa, Play Bombay Sisters” and it returned information correctly and also played the song. Initially, we had trouble playing music by using commands. However, Amazon has improved Alexa considerably and it is now able to play songs if you correctly spell the song name.

We tried with the command “Alexa, play suprabhatam” and the speaker played the song via Saavn. We also tested “Alexa, play Mohanlal songs” and the speaker answered back “Shuffling songs by Mohanlal” but no songs were played. However, we could see the relevant information such as a poster of Mohanlal’s film inside the Alexa app. The app is able to fetch the relevant information but the speaker is not capable of playing it via Amazon Music.

As of now, we don’t have any other options other than Amazon Music and Saavn. Going forward, you can expect Amazon to integrate other services such as Gaana. Moreover, you can also expect the integration of All India Radio (AIR) stations within the next few months. We are still trying out best to play music from Amazon Music service.

We have been continuously testing the Amazon Echo Dot for several days. The speaker is capable of playing music via Saavn if you provided the correct command. Firstly, you need to change the default music service to Saavn from within the Alexa mobile app.

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Install Saavn app for helpful hints

The trick is that you should tell the title of the song after the term “Alexa”. To fetch the title of the song, you need to install Saavn Android app and search for tracks. For example, if you type Mohanlal inside Saavn, you will be able to view plenty of songs. We asked Alexa to play few songs and it played. However, the Echo Dot is unable to play old songs although listed on Saavn. You can try “Alexa, Play Sagar Alias Jackie” and the speaker will play the song.

Amazon Echo Dot

If you say “Alexa, play Sivaji Ganesan songs” it will play songs randomly and we were excited to hear old Tamil songs. We could play Suprabhatam, Vishnu Sahasranamam, Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi songs without any problem via Saavn. You have to continuously try for few days before you feel comfortable with the speaker.

News rendering

We tested flash briefing and it worked well. We could hear news from Bollywood film and sports. However, when we asked Alexa to deliver latest India news, the speaker is unable to produce any results. The news from the Times of India worked as expected. We expect Amazon to refine the app in such a way that it is capable of delivering great news stories.

FM Radio

Amazon Echo Dot is capable of playing FM Radio stations. You just need to navigate to the Alexa app and tap on the relevant FM station name by selecting Music & Books | tunein option. The speaker will play if the station is available. You will find it difficult if you spell the FM radio station names. The app is very handy when it comes to playback of FM Radio stations.

Alexa App

The Amazon Alexa app is still in its infancy. The user interface is slow and we had to wait for several minutes to perform various actions. However, Amazon will continue to release new updates with bug fixes and improvements. You can expect some kind of stability after six months.

The latest Alexa app update brings in significant improvements to the user interface. You can now create routines, which helps you to perform automated tasks. It is also possible to play FM radio stations directly by tapping the relevant station names from within the Alexa app. We are planning to hear the next edition of #MannKiBaat of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Amazon Echo Dot.

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Sound quality

The sound produced by the Echo Dot is sufficient for a single room. The output was sufficiently louder at full volume and doesn’t require an external speaker for a small room. We also tested by placing the Echo Dot on the dining table and we could hear the sound all over the house. However, there is a lack of bass in the produced output.

Amazon Echo Dot

The FM radio stations produce low sound but you can rectify it by connecting an external speaker. The far-field recognition worked seamlessly when we talked to Alexa from the far end of the kitchen. The big advantage is the addition of far-field recognition and it works very well with the Amazon Echo Dot. If your house is large, then you will have to either pair Echo Dot with a Bluetooth speaker or purchase full-blown Amazon Echo, which ships with Dolby speakers.

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Conclusion

Amazon Echo Dot is a capable smart speaker. It all depends on how the Alexa cloud service works. Sometimes, the music playback will be very smooth via Saavn. We had a tough time with Amazon Music. We hope the scenario will improve after the official launch of the Amazon Music service in India. We also faced issues with flash briefings. We still have to dig deep into the various skills, which are available inside the Alexa app. We found that the Alexa app is bit sluggish. Amazon is a smart company and they will surely improve the whole Alexa service within the next few months. The sound quality will be sufficient for a small room or house. You can always establish connectivity with a wired or Bluetooth speaker as per your requirement. The advantage of the Echo Dot is that the speaker is portable and can be carried easily from one room to another. If you would like to work with a smart speaker to fetch information and music playback, you should purchase Amazon Echo Dot available via Invitation basis.

Amazon Echo Dot

Rs. 3149
Amazon Echo Dot
98.333333333333

Installation

10/10

    Usage

    10/10

      Usefulness

      10/10

        Packaging

        10/10

          Learning Curve

          10/10

            Instructions

            10/10

              User Manual

              10/10

                Availability

                10/10

                  Shipping

                  10/10

                    Pros

                    • Lightweight
                    • Portable
                    • Excellent Sound
                    • Far Field Recognition
                    • Saavn support
                    • FM Radio Stations
                    • Wide range of skills
                    • External speaker support
                    • Free Amazon Prime - 1 Year

                    Cons

                    • Problems with Amazon Music
                    • Frequent disconnections
                    • Slow app
                    • Lack of bass
                    • Recognition Problem

                    Anand Narayanaswamy is the editor-in-chief of Netans. He was recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 9 years (2002 to 2011) and currently part of MVP Reconnect program. He is also part of the prestigious ASPInsider program. Anand has published several articles and reviews related to various software and hardware products for various software and technology related websites. He is also active on social media and also participates as an Influencer for various brands. Anand can be reached at admin@netans.com