Amazon Echo Dot test: to install Alexa anywhere at home

Amazon Echo Dot test: to install Alexa anywhere at home

After the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Spot, it's the turn of the Amazon Echo Dot (first generation) to pass the walls of our sound lab. Amazo's little domestic helper comes in the form of a pebble and is equipped with a loudspeaker and several microphones. And of course, it's Alexa who gives voice.

Presentation

The Amazon Echo Dot (first generation) is Amazon's smallest home assistant. Currently sold € 39,99 (against € 59,99 at its launch), this box picked up landed in France in response to the Google Home Mini. More than a smart speaker, the Echo Dot is presented above all as a solution to increase the presence of Alexa at home, in several rooms of the home. 



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Ergonomics

It is a cylindrical device of 163 grams for dimensions 32 x 84 x 84 mm which allow it to blend easily into the decor. You will understand, we are far from a Google Home Max which is very quickly noticed by its impressive format.




The Amazon Echo Dot is very discreet.

Less sophisticated than its main competitor, the Google Home Mini, Amazon's little assistant has four physical keys located on the upper face of the device (the same as on the Echo) that allow you to manually manage certain features. It is possible to increase or decrease the sound volume with the "+" and "-" keys, to mute the microphone or to activate the voice command without having to pronounce "Alexa". Note that the sound volume can also be adjusted by voice.


Left: the Google Home Mini. Right: the Amazon Echo Dot.

On the back of the device is a USB port for power as well as an audio output that allows you to use the device by plugging in external speakers. We particularly appreciate the presence of an audio line output, which is sorely lacking on the Google Home and Home Mini.  


As is the case with the Echo and the Spot, the Dot connects via Wi-Fi, but it is also possible to use the Bluetooth interface. Note that we noted a very high latency of 400 ms between video and audio from Alexa: it is therefore impossible to follow a video comfortably, even with the automatic compensation of certain applications such as Netflix, Facebook or YouTube.



The rear of the Dot has a 3,5mm mini-jack audio output. 

The Amazon Echo Dot works on mains via micro-USB. Just like on the Amazon Echo, a ring of light illuminates in different colors when the assistant is activated in order to alert the user of its working state: when the circle lights up in blue, it means that Alexa has picked up the voice; orange, it is disconnected; in red, the microphone is muted. 


An illuminated ring informs the user of the status of the device (blue means it is activated).


By plugging in the assistant, the blue ring lights up and the user is prompted to download the Alexa app in order to configure the device. To do this, remember that it is imperative to connect your Dot to the same Wi-Fi network as your smartphone. The application takes the user step by step through the configuration.

Speech Recognition

Like the Amazon Echo, the Echo Dot has seven microphones that frame the top of the device to provide better voice recognition. Unfortunately the expected effect is not there and the voice capture is far from perfect. 


When the environment is calm, the Echo Dot does relatively well, keeping us a good distance from the device. However, he no longer reacts when we move further away from him - even though we are in a very quiet room. Our eternal "Alexa" remains unanswered. In this case, there is no need to imagine talking to your Echo Dot when you are in an adjoining room.

If the recognition of the Echo Dot is satisfactory when there is no external noise, it is quite different when we place our device in a slightly noisier environment. In this case, it will be advisable to approach within 2 meters and pushing your voice a little so that the assistant understands our request. Unlike the Google Home Mini, in this case it is advisable to speak even more clearly when there is ambient noise, which requires a little effort on the part of the user. 

Once connected to speakers, this assistant is unable to understand the instructions of its owner. You have to speak very loudly or move closer to your device to, for example, change the music or simply turn it off.

Audio

If the Echo has a 6,5 cm woofer and a 1,5 cm tweeter, the Echo Dot has a 41 mm speaker. On this point, the Amazon Echo Dot is clearly not designed for listening to music or following a video. Indeed, the sound rendering is very narrow and focuses mainly on the mediums. Unlike the Google Home Mini, there is also a total absence of low frequencies and very little treble.


Frequency measurement of the Harmonic Distortion rate of the Amazon Echo Dot.

The sound coming out of the Dot is extremely imprecise, incomprehensible limit at certain times. It gives us the impression of a sound coming from a telephone speaker, as if it were confined in a box. 

Even for very basic use (giving the weather forecast or the time of day, for example), the Echo Dot speaker quickly shows its limits, with a not very powerful sound, barely sufficient for close listening. Note that if it was not 100% convincing on this part, at equal size, the Google Home is more efficient and more pleasant to listen to.

Highlights

Weak points

Conclusion

Note globale

Compact and discreet, the Amazon Echo Dot is not a smart speaker. Despite voice recognition that may seem risky, this assistant is useless other than to exchange punctually with Alexa. We could not recommend this device other than connected to a slightly more powerful speaker for better sound reproduction.

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