1. Today, Amazon unveiled the second generation Echo Dot, a smaller version of its best-selling Echo.
The Dot has a small built-in speaker, but its major advantage over the Echo is that you can connect the Dot to your high-quality home stereo system through a 3.5mm audio cable or a Bluetooth speaker (wireless headphones work, too). The Amazon Echo can only play audio through its built-in speaker. Those without a home audio system should opt for the Echo.
The small, hockey puck-shaped gadget is powered by Amazon’s voice-activated personal assistant Alexa. You can ask the Dot questions like, “Alexa, what’s the weather like today?” or “What’s in the news?” Alexa also works with over 3,000 different apps (Amazon calls them “skills”) and responds to hundreds of different commands.
With its competition Google Home launching later this year, Amazon appears to be beefing up its hands-free speaker offerings. The second generation Echo Dot is slated for an Oct. 20 ship date – and here’s everything you need to know about it.
2. It’s almost half the price of the first Echo Dot.
The original Echo Dot was $90 and the all-new version is $50.
And, because this is Amazon, the new Dot can be bought in packs of six (buy five, get one free, so $41.67 each) or ten (buy eight, get two free, so $40 each).
3. The new Dot aims to fix the older model’s voice recognition problems.
Some Echo dot reviews cited voice recognition inferior to the larger Amazon Echo. To power the device’s seven microphones, the second-generation Dot includes an improved speech processor that can recognize when you say the Dot’s wake word (either “Amazon” or “Alexa”) with more accuracy.
4. Now everyone in the US can buy the Echo Dot.
The Echo Dot, which was previously unavailable for purchase on Amazon’s website and only sold to existing Echo customers, is available for pre-order for all US and UK customers and will ship October 12.
People with addresses in Germany and Austria can also pre-order a Dot. They’ll arrive in those countries on October 26.
There’s no longer a volume control dial.
Amazon’s replaced its rotating volume control dial with two physical buttons (which may have made the Dot cheaper to produce).
It has the same 3.3-inch diameter, but is shorter by .2”, three ounces lighter, and a slightly glossier finish. A 3.5mm audio cable to connect the Dot to speakers is no longer included.
5. You can have multiple Echo devices (Echo or Dot) in the same space without interference.
A new software update called ESP (Echo Spatial Perception) will be available for all Echo owners, including those who own current Echos and first-generation Dots. When multiple Echo devices are within hearing distance, ESP determines which device should respond, based on the clarity of the customer’s voice. Amazon says the feature will get smarter over time.
Multiple Echo devices are still unable to play the same audio at once, but Sonos customers will be able to use Alexa to tap into their wireless multi-room audio systems starting in 2017.
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