Amazon Echo Dot (third gen) evaluation: better seems to be, better sound, same price
I’m going to chop proper to the chase: the brand new Echo Dot sensible speaker is such a lot better than its predecessor that it could no longer be utterly out of line to switch a complete houseful of previous Echo Dots with new ones. The new Echo Dot seems to be better, works better, and, most significantly, sounds a lot better than the prior type. And it nonetheless prices the same $49.99.
Amazon has upgraded the sound high quality on all of its new Echo units popping out this yr, however the enhancements are maximum noticeable at the Dot merely on account of how poor the prior type was once. It’s no longer continuously that there’s this a lot of a soar from one era of a product to the following — maximum enhancements are incremental — however the brand new Echo Dot appears like an absolutely other speaker than its predecessor. It’s no longer best possible, however it’s simply the most productive affordable sensible speaker you’ll purchase presently.
The explanation why the brand new Echo Dot is such a lot better comes right down to its new design. It’s noticeably better, which means that that Amazon was once in a position to place a bigger, louder, extra tough speaker inside it. Where the closing Echo Dot appeared like a can of tuna full of offended bees, the brand new type is strangely loud, complete, and transparent. Whether you’re being attentive to Alexa learn out the most recent climate record, an audiobook, or cranking a Spotify playlist at complete quantity, the whole lot sounds better at the new Dot. Not best is the brand new Dot a long way better than the previous Dot, however it’s markedly better than Google’s Home Mini as neatly. It’s richer, fuller, and simply extra delightful to hear.
The new Dot has a 1.6-inch speaker, which is a half-inch better than the prior type. It’s additionally considerably extra tough: the previous Dot used a small Nine-watt energy adapter and a Micro USB cable; the brand new one has a beefy 15-watt energy brick with a proprietary barrel connector. That’s a bit of nerve-racking for the reason that energy brick takes up a lot more room on a wall outlet and you’ll’t simply use a telephone charger (or in-wall USB port) to energy the brand new Dot, however the build up in audio energy makes up for the nuisance.
The previous Dot was once very good for having access to Alexa in each room of your own home with little effort, however I’d by no means have beneficial it for being attentive to song. (However, according to the truth that Amazon has bought many tens of millions of Dots and song listening is the #1 factor folks do with sensible audio system, that’s precisely what the general public use it for.) The new Dot is a special beast: it if truth be told does justice to the song you’re being attentive to. It’s transparent, crisp, by no means will get muddy, and doesn’t distort, even at complete quantity.
For a larger room, you’ll need to profit from the facility to pair the brand new Dot with a 2d unit to create a real stereo pair. Do this, and you’ll simply fill a medium to huge room with sound. Amazon can even provide you with a cut price if you purchase two Echo Dots on the same time. Two Echo Dots in stereo don’t have the same quantity of punch as a Sonos One, however they aren’t a long way off. They have true stereo separation and price considerably much less.
You can now alter the bass, midrange, and treble of the speaker with voice instructions, however the distinction within the sound while you do is difficult to note. Bass is what’s lacking essentially the most: even though the Echo Dot’s new speaker is way better, it’s nonetheless somewhat small and it simply can’t care for low frequencies that neatly. To get the bass again, you’ll upload Amazon’s new $129.99 Echo Sub to the combination, which can repair the entire lacking thump the Dot lacks. But whilst I’d utterly suggest getting two Echo Dots for a stereo pair, I don’t suppose the Sub is well worth the price or trouble for the general public who acquire the Dot. Still, two Echo Dots and an Echo Sub can produce some spectacular output for no longer a lot more cash than a unmarried, mono Sonos One sells for.
It’s nonetheless imaginable to output the Dot’s audio to a bigger speaker, both over Bluetooth or thru a three.5mm audio cable. But given how a lot better the brand new Dot sounds by itself, I don’t suppose the general public will to find the wish to achieve this. Amazon’s new Echo Input is a better instrument for that function because it’s less expensive and doesn’t even hassle with a speaker of its personal.
Amazon swapped out the previous Dot’s seven-microphone array for a more practical four-mic device to listen to your voice instructions, however I haven’t spotted any distinction in efficiency because of this. The new Dot can listen my voice instructions simply as simply because the older one, whether or not I’m just about the instrument or status at the different aspect of the room. When the Dot is taking part in song at quantity, I do have to lift my voice to cause voice keep watch over, however that’s no longer strange for sensible audio system. The voice controls nonetheless paintings while you pair two Dots in stereo, even though just one will reply on your queries (whichever one is nearer to you).
Along with the rise in dimension and bigger speaker, Amazon additionally traded the previous Dot’s glossy plastic end for a material duvet that appears a lot nicer. You can get the brand new Dot in charcoal, heather grey, or sandstone, that are all principally other ranges of grey. It’s a bit of dull, however the entire colour choices are understated and great taking a look. You gained’t to find any Google Home Mini-like a laugh colours right here, neither is Amazon promoting covers for the brand new Dot such as you had been in a position to get for the previous type. But, at the plus aspect, the enormous Amazon emblem at the entrance has additionally been jettisoned.
Aside from the brand new talent to pair two Dots in stereo and alter the equalizer, the brand new Dot doesn’t essentially do the rest greater than the previous type. It’s nonetheless the most cost effective and maximum handy means for the general public to get entry to Alexa, which can be utilized for timers, climate studies, sensible house keep watch over, audiobooks, song, podcasts, alarms, and numerous different issues. The new Dot doesn’t upload to the revel in; it simply improves some key facets of it.
It would possibly appear to be I’m overstating the brand new Dot’s sound high quality, however that’s in large part for the reason that prior type set one of these low bar. The new Dot isn’t on the same point as a high-end bookshelf speaker, however it’s for sure excellent sufficient for the general public. A unmarried Dot may be no longer as loud or full-sounding as a bigger Echo or Google sensible speaker, however it’s shut sufficient that the general public can be satisfied saving the cash or striking the price distinction towards purchasing multiple Dot for a couple of rooms.
Amazon did the most obvious factor right here: the previous Dot appeared like crap, and the #1 factor sensible audio system are used for is to hear song, so bettering the sound high quality was once the appropriate transfer. And while you issue within the Dot’s price, which can most probably dip even decrease right through vacation promotions, it’s onerous to seek out fault with Amazon’s new entry-level Echo speaker.
Photography by way of Dan Seifert / The Verge
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