Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (3rd gen) review: The Echo Dot with Clock is just what it sounds like. And we can dig it – CNET

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Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (3rd gen) review: The Echo Dot with Clock is just what it sounds like. And we can dig it


Another year, another Echo (or 10). Amazon’s smart speaker empire, with its displays of various sizes and speakers of ever-increasing quality, is built on an unassuming foundation: the super affordable Echo Dot. Yes, that $50 talky-puck you can catch on sale for half-off every other month. Sure, Amazon is cultivating its catalogue of Echo devices available on Prime, but the Echo’s ubiquity is thanks to the fact that your mom might just buy a bundle of Dots for Christmas this year.

But just as swapping a flip phone for the original iPhone felt more dramatic than upgrading from an iPhone 5S to a 6, upgrading Echo Dots is getting less and less rewarding. That’s not a criticism — it’s the reality of incremental product improvement. Last year brought us the third-gen Echo Dot, a speaker with impressive sound, tasteful design and the tried-and-true $50 price tag. A year has passed, and here we are with a brand new Dot, though it’s not meant to replace last year’s. The big upgrade: an LED clock.

Oh, and a $10 price hike.

As with phones, there’s one big question: Is this the generation to buy, or the one to skip?


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It’s 20% more expensive, but is it 20% better?

Before we talk price, I want to be clear: No one should buy an Echo Dot at full price. Not because $50 is a bad deal (it’s not), but because you don’t have to. Amazon sells Dots at a hefty discount so often, there’s no reason not to wait that extra three weeks to get to Black Friday (or Prime Day or Christmas) to pick up a Dot for $25.

Discounts aside, I don’t love the $10 price hike for the new Echo Dot. The price tag is part of what makes an Echo Dot an Echo Dot, and I don’t like Amazon nudging that price tag upward because of a quality-of-life improvement. Adding an LED clock is the sort of upgrade that should be attributed to incrementalism, much in the way that last year’s beefed-up speakers were. To upcharge a device that’s routinely given away for promotions or sold at significant price cuts feels like it’s chipping away at the wallet-friendliness that made the Dot so special in the first place.

Plus, the clock is the only real improvement to this year’s Echo Dot.

Echo Dot 4 point… oh

No, this isn’t a Dot 4.0. The speakers on the new Echo Dot are identical to last year’s. In fact, other than the clock, all the specs are the same — including the audio cable input, the four far-field mics and the fabric-faced design. Last year’s device was a big improvement from the previous generation and Amazon seems to be thinking, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. This approach leaves the new Echo Dot feeling a little safe, particularly as Google launches its new, upgraded Nest Mini (which is still just $50, includes LED lights and a wall mount but no clock).



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