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“Alexa, is this the future?”

Posted by
Paul Gregory

Categories
Technology

Due to our Digital Strategist Paul’s interest in new technology as well as the need to have someone else to talk to around the house, he ordered the newly released (in the UK anyway) Amazon Echo Dot. This is a short review of his time with the product so far.

Setup

The initial setup of the Dot was pretty seamless. I simply installed the Alexa Amazon App on my phone and followed the setup process. Before I knew it the blue glow of the Dot was welcoming me to the future.

Music

One of my main reasons for buying the Dot was to play music. Using the app it was easy and quick to connect a Bluetooth speaker and sync up my Spotify account and within a few minutes I was asking Alexa to play my music:

“Alexa play my Rock playlist on Spotify” Almost instantly my chosen playlist was playing through my Bluetooth speaker and with another quick request: “Alexa shuffle” Alexa replies with “shuffle mode activated” Another music related feature is the ability to play radio through the dot. Another quick request of: “Alexa play BBC Radio 2” And again almost instantaneously Radio 2 is playing.

So far I’m definitely impressed! However, there was a slight issue. This may be due to where I have the Dot positioned but I did notice on occasions that it struggled to pick up my voice when music was playing.

Other Features

Having only had the Dot for a limited time I’ve only managed to try out a few other features including News Headlines and adding things to your ‘To Do List’ all of which work seamlessly. Another cool feature is if you say “Alexa Good Morning” Alexa replies with “Good Morning” and a fact of the day. For me it was the fact that the Terminator movie was released 30 years ago which included a little quip about A.I. being much more friendly than in said movie!

One drawback however is that Alexa uses Bing as it’s search engine for queries meaning that it isn’t conversational. This means that if your next query is related to the previous one you still have to ask the full question rather than it being in context to the previous one, for example on Google the conversation would go:

“Who is President of the USA?” Answer: Barack Obama “Who is his wife?” Answer: Michelle Obama With Bing and in this case Alexa for the second query you would still need to specify that you are talking about Barack Obama.

This may evolve over time but could prove to be an advantage for Google Home when it is released.

In Conclusion

At £49.99 the Dot is an affordable way of sampling the future. The inbuilt speaker isn’t great but the ease in which it connects to Bluetooth devices means this isn’t really an issue. The Dot is a great piece of tech and as the number of compatible apps and services grows it will only get better. Overall I would highly recommend the Dot as it is a useful and fun addition to any home. Oh and it looks cool too!

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