I don’t have the best relationship with Amazon’s smart home devices. Earlier this year I said the Echo Show 15 was a disappointing attempt at a smart home hub and while it’s not home tech, the Alexa-powered Amazon Echo Buds weren’t not something I used to rave about either. Amazon will be happy to know that I kinda like the new Echo Dot with 5th Gen Clock though.
It’s small, sounds great, and most importantly, it does everything it should and nothing it shouldn’t.
5th Gen Echo Dot with Clock
Amazon announced the 5th generation Echo Dot with Clock at the end of September. The Dot and the one with a clock (the one I reviewed) have been updated with a new audio architecture, which includes a full-range driver and what Amazon calls “the highest excursion speaker from one of its Echo Dot devices. The company promises clear voices and “up to double the bass” compared to the previous generation of devices.
The Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock feature new processors and sensors that allow Alexa to perform contextual commands. It’s all part of Amazon’s idea of ambient computing, which will let you set up actions that activate a connected gadget when the Echo Dot detects you’ve entered a room.
There’s also an accelerometer in the Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock that allows for gesture controls.
You plug in the Echo Dot with Clock in, download the Amazon Alexa app, and add the device. Since I was very lazy, I haven’t logged out/uninstalled from the app since I first set up the Echo Buds/reviewed the Echo Show 15, so I was always logged in and on. opening the app, the dot with clock was there for me to add. It took about a minute, then Alexa started talking to me through the dot to tell me she was updating. About 10 seconds later, the device was ready for operation.
The app is helpful, immediately giving some tips for using the Dot.
Scary, but unsurprisingly, after adding which room the Echo Dot with Clock was in, my address was loaded as I use it for Amazon.com.au default delivery. I set the premises as “Home”, which I could then use if I wanted to add smart lighting and ask Alexa, for example, to turn on the lights at home when I return from the night.
Its surprisingly good
I installed the Echo Dot with Clock in the spare room I use as my office when working from home. Currently in this room, I’m using the Google Home Hub (renamed Google Nest Hub), which was released in 2018. Since it’s only one device in a set of five (six if you count the TV), the Google Home speakers I have in my two bedroom apartment, its lack of great sound has never been a problem. It’s ringing good but is by no means a good speaker.
That was probably a good thing for Amazon, because the Echo Dot with Clock is a 2022 device, it looks like a 2022 device (read: way better than a 2018 device).
For such a small thing (100mm x 100mm x 89mm), the Echo Dot with Clock packs a decent punch. With the volume set to 5 (out of 10), the sound is clear and almost perfect for still hearing yourself think. The 44mm front speaker sends music from a bookshelf to fill a small room, without producing vibration that rattles everything on the shelves.
Crawl to 6 or 7 and you’re safe, but around 9 is when it starts to sound tinny, and at 10 it’s best not to try. The speaker range covers a number of genres, and using it to listen to podcasts is quite enjoyable, with a well-managed voice.
By default, the Dot plays music from Amazon Music, but you box link Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, I Heart Radio and Vevo from the Alexa app. Once activated, you can either add it to your command (i.e. Alexa, Play Architects on Spotify) or go through the app and tap Echo Dot as the device you want to listen to. music from Spotify.
While I prefer the voice of the Google Assistant (familiarity breeds contempt), I feel like it understands me just as well, even though it lacks the history and knowledge base of the Google kit. No complaints about Alexa, you’re doing well, honey.
The clock part is useful
The 5th Gen Echo Dot with Clock features high-density LED “dots” so you can catch a glimpse of things like calendar events and weather from afar, even in direct sunlight. It shows the clock by default (I know, shocking) and when a new song starts playing, it cycles through the track title.
Earlier I mentioned that it does what it should and not what it shouldn’t, which is a welcome change from the Echo Show 15. You can do all the Alexa things you would you like to ask him questions, play music, turn off the lights, etc. – and there is no wasted space on a screen. Since it doesn’t have a screen, it’s not trying to be a useless home hub or tablet replacement.
But this allows more intelligent things.
If you pair the Echo Dot with Clock with compatible bulbs and smart plugs, for example, you can use the Dot to control those devices using your voice, motion commands, or indoor temperature. Yes, the Dot can sense that the room is cold and therefore increase the heat (provided everything is connected, however).
You can pair more than one Echo Dot with Clock (even with just the Echo Dot), use it as an alarm (physical button on top, or just shout to Alexa to let you sleep), and you can also mute the mic , if you’re worried about domestic chatter being overheard by big tech villains.
The Amazon Echo Dot with clock is small, smart and very cheap. It’s not one smart home device to rule them all, but it’s a pretty good entry for smart home devices. No one has the same smart home experience as the other, and Alexa is smart enough to get to know you. You have the option to keep adding devices to your home to create a more immersive experience (if that’s what you’re looking for). The sound is suitable for a small room like a bedroom or an office, it offers the convenience of a clock and it hardly occupies any room.
I have nothing negative to say about it and I have always been a Google Home user.
Where to buy the Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen)?
Amazon $99 | JB HiFi $99