Forget the Echo. The Dot Is the Most Important Alexa Device

Forget the Echo. The Dot Is the Most Important Alexa Device

Wednesday, 12 July 2017
This post was originally published on this site

People like Alexa. They’ve bought millions of Alexa-powered devices. When you think about Alexa, you’re probably thinking about the Echo, the tall, cylindrical monolith that first introduced Amazon’s chatty assistant to the world. The Echo features prominently in Amazon’s Alexa ads, and its basic structure has informed the design of every other so-called smart speaker on the market.

You know what, though? Everyone’s doing it wrong. The most important Alexa device isn’t the Echo. It’s the Echo Dot, the hefty hockey puck of a device that just cleaves the top off an Echo. The Echo Dot has been the best-selling Alexa device since its debut. It was Amazon’s best-selling device, period, during the 2016 holiday season, and the company just announced that yesterday, the Echo Dot was also the most popular item on Prime Day. (Ah, Prime Day. Only 364 days until that 30 percent discount on Levi’s 501s makes its glorious return.) The Alexa takeover continues unabated, and the Echo Dot leads the charge.

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The Dot’s appeal starts with the price tag. Smart speakers are, at least for now, pure luxury devices—fun as hell, but not yet indispensable for anyone. Many people struggle to justify the Echo’s $180 sticker price, or $130 for a Google Home, or heaven forbid $349 for Apple’s upcoming HomePod. But 50 bucks for a cool, fun, exciting toy that can play music and set timers, tell you the weather and keep your shopping list? That feels more doable. And on days like Prime Day, when that price drops down as far as $35, a Dot becomes an impulse purchase.

Meanwhile, the Dot fits far better into people’s homes than any other smart speaker. Those devices become centerpieces, stealing important space on your coffee table or counter. The Dot’s small enough to nearly disappear, without sacrificing any of its awesome far-field voice recognition powers. Hide one in the kitchen, another in the bedroom, and one behind the TV—you’ve just filled your house for less than the price of a single Echo. The internal speaker pumps half-decent sound, good enough for listening to podcasts in bed or hearing the timer go off. It’s not amazing audio, but neither is the Echo. And if you have speakers somewhere in your home, the Dot plugs in neatly and smartens up your existing audio setup. It can even pair with a Bluetooth speaker. (Echo Dot plus UE Roll 2 is a killer combination for way less than $180.)

Any virtual-assistant-powered device should be heard and not seen. Devices of all shapes and sizes offer the same tech; the Dot’s Alexa matches the Echo’s Alexa feature for feature. Ultimately, they probably won’t even be separate devices: Alexa will live in your light switches and washing machines and everywhere else in your home, not in one dedicated gadget. Until then, why wouldn’t you buy the smallest, cheapest, least obtrusive gadget you can? And why haven’t more companies figured this out? The virtual assistant race moves along at a blistering pace, and somehow nobody’s noticed the tiny little hockey puck that’s winning by a mile.

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