Amazon’s answer to a smart-home hub, the Echo Dot, has recently undergone some updates, maintaining the features that made the the original device an Editor’s Choice winner from CNET in March, while slashing the price to just $50.

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Now available in a sleek white, the small circular smart speaker is a virtual personal assistant, connecting to Amazon’s servers so that it can answer questions, read news headlines, stream music check the weather, and even order Amazon products. These commands are voice-activated, and the Echo Dot can be summoned by name (“Alexa”), or by saying “Amazon” or “Echo.” Recently, Amazon has expanded controls to a growing list of smart home gadgets, meaning you can set kitchen timers, turn of the lights, and adjust your thermostat without lifting a finger. Additional third-party apps called “skills” also allow for more specific voice commands, like ordering an Uber. This is, of course, a pint-sized version of the much larger Amazon Echo Speaker, but one would likely invest in the dot for access to the Amazon Alexa Cloud. If you already have a strong Bluetooth speaker or are not satisfied with the arguably less-powerful Echo Dot’s offerings, the device has wireless and line-in capabilities (cable not included). Blast music over a paired speaker without worry of drowning out Alexa; while the features remain mostly the same, microphones have improved on the Echo Dot to allow for greater listening capability, even through noise. Another slight difference from the original Echo Dot is the absence of a the volume ring. Speakers can now be adjusted with the top volume buttons.


Amazon has begun rolling out Echo Dots in six or twelve packs, suggesting that the company is prepping their smart-speaker to be a multi-room access point to the Alexa database. While multi-room capability is not quite at a Sonos level yet, Amazon has been teasing further improvements that will make the Echo Dot an affordable way to make your entire home smarter. One upcoming upgrade will be the addition of Echo Spatial Perception, or ESP, which will allow only the device closest to the user to respond. At $50, the Echo Dot is an affordable and exciting investment in what is to come for smart-home tech.