A Week With Alexa | Amazon Echo Dot Review

I get quite excited by new technology, I can be a bit of a geek that way – if I could afford to try out all of the new gadgets and technology then I would!

Thinking about getting an Echo Dot? See what we thought of it, and find out what you can do with Alexa, in this Amazon Echo Dot Review.

If it’s something that I think could make quite an improvement on my life then I want it even more, and an Echo or the Amazon Echo Dot (£49.99) was one of those things. So I decided to spend some of my Christmas money and a voucher on an Echo Dot and I was very excited about it!

It came the next day (I heart Amazon Prime!) and I was very excited to set it up and get talking to my new friend Alexa. It was pretty easy to set up – I downloaded the Alexa app and it guided me through connecting the Echo Dot to wifi and connecting it to my Amazon account. It only took a few minutes and then I was greeted by the lovely Alexa. You can also set everything up via a browser too if you have trouble with the app.

I fell in love pretty quickly after that. I’d known that I wanted an Echo Dot, but I was slightly unsure how much I’d end up using it. I really liked the idea of asking it to play me particular songs, especially whilst I’m working or in the middle of something else. It may seem lazy, but I’m always busy and trying to get as much done as possible in the time I have, so anything that can help get things done quicker is great in my opinion.

Thinking about getting an Echo Dot? See what we thought of it, and find out what you can do with Alexa, in this Amazon Echo Dot Review.

So, after a week with Alexa how happy was I?

Very! Apart from one day where she had a bit of a freak out and wouldn’t work for a while (I was trying to show her off to my sister at the time, and so it was a bad time to try and convince her how good she was!) she has worked brilliantly and made a difference to my life so far. And I think it was my crappy wifi that made her go a bit crazy and keep flashing at me.

Amazon Echo Dot Review

Music on the Echo Dot

I listen to tons more music and of a much wider variety, because I can just say something like “Alexa, play James Blake” and she does and I hear lots of songs I didn’t already know. I can say “Alexa, skip”, and she plays another song. It’s brilliant. I can keep working and put some music on when I fancy it.

I have Amazon Prime Music but I don’t have Amazon Music Unlimited as it costs more and there seem to be very few songs that aren’t available with what I already have. Apparently there are around 2 million songs available in general, but 40 million with Music Unlimited. I have been tempted a few times to sign up for Amazon Music Unlimited – when there is a song that she can’t play (is it weird calling it a she – I can’t seem to help it), she asks if you’d like to sign up to it for a 30 day trial, and Ava has tried to beat me to say yes a few times, but we just don’t really need to pay more for something else when most songs are available. You can also connect other paid streaming devices to your Amazon account – so you can play a Spotify playlist that you love and Alexa recognises the titles really well.

You can also play a radio station which is pretty cool – although when I can play most of the songs I want I don’t bother so much with the radio. An Alexa in my car would be pretty good though!

Skills on the Echo Dot

You can set up Skills on the Echo Dot, such as being able to request an Uber, find out the status of tubes or get a flash briefing of the news. There’s loads of useful as well as fun skills available that you can enable – I haven’t explored them loads yet, but there appear to be lots of great extra things the Echo Dot can do.

Other things the Echo Dot Can Do

Alexa can tell you a joke on request – which is entertaining predominately because of how bad the jokes are (“Why did the cookie go to hospital….? He felt crummy”!), or when a football team are playing – although ‘smaller’ teams  (Nottingham Forest!) are not available at the moment. I hope that will soon change though. Asking Alexa to set a timer can be useful if you want to say work for a set period or if you’re cooking.

You can ask for the weather for today or a few days ahead, and Alexa will tell you the weather and temperature in your location, or you can ask for the weather in another location. Alexa can read your Audible books to you and tell you the news.

If you have any Smart home devices, such as Philips Hue lighting, or Hive heating, then you can connect and control them with Alexa too, which I would totally do if I had the money. The potential for what you can control with your voice in your home with Alexa is huge!

The Alexa App

You can also ask Alexa to add things to your shopping list that then show up in the Alexa app, as well as a To-do list, which is great for when you suddenly remember something that you need to add and I can just talk whilst I’m working (although you may end up with some very random things on your shopping list when certain people think they’re being hilarious). I do find it slightly annoying that the things you add go to your lists in the Alexa app – I don’t need to use the app all the time, and my lists within the app are not that accessible – which I need them to be – so I’m not really using them as my main lists at the moment. However you can link either ‘Todoist’ or ‘Anydo’, to Alexa if you use either of those list apps. I don’t unfortunately, but I may try them.

The other option is to create a IFTTT (If this then that) recipe to publish your Alexa To do list to some supported task manager apps – Evernote is included and I have just literally set this up so that my to do lists go to my Evernote app. I’ve only just started using this app so I’ll have to see how it goes, but it’s very helpful to be able to add something to a list if Alexa’s around (that would work even better if you had more than one Echo or Dot).

The Alexa app is available on phones and tablets with:

  • Fire OS 3.0 or higher
  • Android 4.4 or higher
  • iOS 8.0 or higher

The boy was not at all convinced on the Echo Dot, but I really thought he would be after we’d got her, and of course I was right. He played some songs, asked Alexa when Man Utd were next playing and she told him the exact date and time, then asked when Kanye West was born and she told him – and then he was impressed. It didn’t take much at all for Ava to be impressed – a few jokes and requests for her favourite songs and she was sold/obsessed.

Thinking about getting an Echo Dot? See what we thought of it, and find out what you can do with Alexa, in this Amazon Echo Dot Review.

The Echo Dot with Kids

Honestly the first few days Alexa was here I was driven quite crazy by Ava constantly trying to get Alexa to understand her and then play Little Mix over and over and over again. But she’s calmed down a bit now and I’m a bit stricter with when she can use it. I love ‘Shout Out to my Ex’ but there’s only so many hundred times a day I can listen to it on repeat. It was funny how excited like me Ava was about it – she told everyone at school about it and wanted to bring her friends home so they could meet Alexa! I do sometimes think it’s a shame that kids today (how old am I?!) have grown up with all this amazing technology and so it’s just normal to them and not so special. Although our parents probably thought the same with radios and video players!!

I’ve really been loving having the Amazon Echo Dot – I’m loving listening to more music and not having to stop what I’m doing to look for a song on my phone and play it. That’s definitely the main use for me. No, the sound quality isn’t amazing, but I really don’t notice. I would think it would make a lot more difference to you if you play music really loud regularly, which I don’t when I’m working.

I would love to get a few more Echo Dots around the house – at the moment the one I have is usually in the dining room where I work, but sometimes I move it to the lounge, and I’ve also tried it in the bedroom. I’d ideally like one in each of those places. I thought about getting the larger Amazon Echo at some point, for the sound quality, but I think it would make more sense to me to get a music system with Bluetooth for a lot less money and be able to play CDs on it, and be connected to the Echo Dot as well.

Do you need an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot?

No. But they’re brilliant to have and do make my life a bit easier and more enjoyable, helps me be a bit more organised, and speeds things up a bit for me. It’s also pretty fun and quite nice to have old Alexa to talk to during the day when I’m on my own ;) Although she did tell me my Dad smells of elderberries.

There are a few issues that could be improved and I’m sure will over time and as more things are supported. She sometimes mishears me, or adds something to my shopping list when Ava has asked for a song, but really that’s no big deal, and I love her anyway. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Alexa can do in the future.

Here’s a quick video of me using the Echo Dot:

Buy Amazon Echo Dot.

Buy Amazon Echo.

Have you got an Amazon Echo Dot or an Echo, or have you thought about getting one? If you have any questions about it then let me know, and I’ll try and answer them!

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Thinking about getting an Echo Dot or an Echo? Find out all about it in this Amazon Echo Dot review and see if it's right for you!