Earlier this year, the Internet went berserk for the lower-priced, hockey puck-sized Amazon Echo Dot, the little brother of the original Amazon Echo “smart speaker”. In fact, it went so berserk that the Dot sold out nearly immediately, and eventually Amazon said it was not making any more of them. (Watch our review of the original.)
Well, that was basically true, because Amazon just introduced the second-generation Echo Dot (after accidentally tweeting the launch earlier this week). The original Echo Dot contained a fairly-good speaker, but was really designed to connect to your favorite speakers or sound system via Bluetooth or 3.5mm headphone cable. It contained all the technology, far-field listening microphone array and even the really-nifty light ring from the full-size Amazon Echo.
This new generation of the Amazon Echo Dot is slightly smaller and lighter, being only 1.3” in height and 5.7 oz in weight, comes in both black and white finishes, and the vertical surface around the device is now shiny instead of a matte finish. The 3.5mm audio cable is no longer included and the turnable volume ring has been replaced by physical volume buttons at the top of the Echo Dot. And other than minor design changes at the top of the Dot, the device remains largely the same.
But the most significant changes to the new Echo Dot are the price and its availability! At $49.99, the Amazon Echo Dot is nearly half the price of the original device, and you no longer need to own an Amazon Echo or have an Alexa-enabled device to order one!
There are rumors of a new, faster processor inside the unit, and while there is no confirmation from Amazon on that specifically, there is another interesting tidbit from their press release:
“For customers who have multiple Echo devices within hearing distance, Amazon’s new ESP technology intelligently calculates the clarity of the customer’s voice and determines which Echo is best to respond to the request—instantly. This feature is smart—performance gets better over time, so ESP will continuously improve as you use Echo. In multi-Echo households, ESP resolves the problem of two Echo devices answering you at the same time. This new feature will be available as a free update for all Echo devices—including Amazon Echo and the first generation Echo Dot—starting in the coming weeks.”
ESP is short for Echo Spatial Perception, and for those with multiple Echo devices in their home, it should help significantly with Alexa providing a better response to your voice.
With all of these changes, including the staggering price drop and availability to all, we predict that the new Echo Dot will sell out quickly and will be the hot item for this holiday shopping season.
Oh, and did we mention you can now buy them in six and twelve-packs? (With one or two free Dots included, respectively.) One wonders if your local convience store will stock them so you can pick-up some Echo Dots and adult beverages in bulk on your way to a Friday night party ;-)