‘What is the Amazon Echo Dot?’: Everything you need to know about Amazon’s compact smart speaker

The Amazon Echo Dot is a miniaturized version of the Amazon Echo.

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The Amazon Echo Dot is a miniaturized version of the Amazon Echo.
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Zapp2Photo/Shutterstock

The Amazon Echo Dot is a smaller version of the original Amazon Echo smart speaker. Looking more like a hockey puck than the Echo’s original cylindrical shape, the Dot measures a little over 3 inches in diameter and is nearly 1.5 inches high.

It has a few buttons on the top which control volume, mute the speaker, and wake the device to listen for a question or command (though you don’t need to touch the Dot to use it; it is designed to primarily respond to voice commands).

The Amazon Echo Dot is a compact smart speaker that responds to voice commands.

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The Amazon Echo Dot is a compact smart speaker that responds to voice commands.
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Amazon

Like the original Amazon Echo, the Echo Dot is a voice-controlled smart speaker that uses an artificially intelligent personal assistant named Alexa to perform a broad range of activities. Alexa can play music, set alarms, control other “smart” devices in the home, play games, and answer questions by searching for information on the internet, just to name a few of its many skills.

How the Echo Dot is different from other Echo devices (and the same)

The Echo Dot is different from the Echo primarily in that it’s missing the large speaker which takes up most of the original Echo’s cylinder. It has a much smaller, somewhat lower quality speaker. But it can be easily connected to an external speaker, either via a standard audio cable or by Bluetooth. The original Echo cannot be connected to an external speaker.

The Amazon Echo Dot can play through a larger nearby speaker using a standard audio jack or Bluetooth.

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The Amazon Echo Dot can play through a larger nearby speaker using a standard audio jack or Bluetooth.
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Amazon

Otherwise, the Dot is identical to the Echo – it can perform all the functions of any other member of the Amazon Echo family. The Alexa personal assistant works the same, and can draw on the same library of skills and activities.

If you already have one kind of Echo product and want additional speakers for other rooms in your home, you can mix and match. An Amazon Echo Dot can work in a household with other Amazon Echo and Echo Dot speakers.

While Amazon Echo products can’t “hand off” information from one device to another and aren’t aware of each other in the same home, they do have microphone technology that ensures the Echo that’s closest will receive and act on voice commands – convenient if you have several Echo products in a small home or apartment.

Other speakers in the Echo family

Amazon has been expanding the size of the Amazon Echo product family in the last couple of years. In addition to the Amazon Echo, Amazon now also offers the Echo Plus, which is similarly shaped like a cylinder, but has an integrated Zigbee hub to control Zigbee-compatible smart home devices.

The Echo Spot is what you would get if you added a display to an Echo Dot. Amazon intends the Spot to be primarily used on a nightstand as a high-tech alarm clock that can respond to voice commands and display information on the small screen.

The Echo Spot is another compact version of the Amazon Echo, this one with a display and intended primarily to serve as a bedside assistant.

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The Echo Spot is another compact version of the Amazon Echo, this one with a display and intended primarily to serve as a bedside assistant.
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Amazon

Finally, the Echo Show is an Echo packaged into a tablet shape, designed to sit on a desk or table with a 7-inch screen. Amazon has positioned this Echo as ideal for making video calls and watching videos.

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