The Echo Dot with Clock has been one of the most favorably-received products to come from Amazon in 2019 and for good reason. It is a product update that could just as easily be described as the Echo Dot (3rd Gen) "Plus" if you will, because it doesn't look that different than the 3rd Gen, especially when it's not plugged in. The size, form factor, speaker, microphones, and sound quality are all the same as that device, which impressed us last year when it was released. So what's different you ask? Well, it's all right there in the name — that clock!
I've been a fan of the Echo since its debut in late 2014, and I still have several assorted sizes and colors of the various tubes, pucks, and screens spread out around my house (heck, I even have an Alexa device in my shower!), so I'm no stranger to what the Echo Dot is or what Alexa can do through it. It's been a while since I've had an LED alarm clock in my bedroom, though, so I was eager to try out this device to see how I liked it.
The Echo Dot with Clock is a seemingly minor update to a popular existing product line, but it has the potential to really enhance the overall usefulness of the product. Can it deliver on that promise? That's what I set to find out.
Little Dot hits big time
Bottom Line The Echo Dot with Clock is the pinnacle of Dots to date. It retains the upgraded speaker from the 3rd Gen and adds functionality we didn't know we were missing. The LEDs that illuminate the digital clock and show the temperature and time are a welcome addition to the default Dot speaker.
- LED lights show time, timers, and temperature
- Can tap the top to snooze alarms
- 3.5 mm audio output to connect other speakers
- Much louder, fuller sound than previous Echo Dots
- Most expensive Echo Dot version
- Display can't show notifications
- Only 1 color option (Sandstone)
Amazon Echo Dot with Clock What I like
Coming from the first and second-generation Echo Dots, I was really impressed with how much better the Echo Dot with Clock (and by extension, the third-generation Echo Dot) looked, felt, and sounded, I know I'm a bit late to the party, but my previous Dots are still going strong, so I didn't see the need to upgrade just yet. I do now.
I didn't see the need to upgrade before. I do now.
The improvements to the speaker from Gen 2 to Gen 3 are night and day, and I think this little Dot can go toe-to-toe with my bigger Echoes (1st and 2nd Gen and Echo Show 5) in terms of sheer volume and gravitas. When testing it in my office, I actually think the Echo Dot with Clock sounded better at medium and high volumes than my Echo Show 5. Perhaps this is because the Show 5 has rear-firing speakers and so the sound wasn't coming directly at me, but color me impressed.
I still really like that Amazon has stuck with the physical buttons on the top of the Echo speakers. I personally find this way more intuitive and easier to use than the capacitive touch controls on something like a Nest Mini. I also love the iconic blue LED light ring that Amazon uses to indicate different kinds of alerts, updates, and statuses (though I do wish they'd make it a little easier to know what each ring color means... like maybe by putting it on the instructions in the box, or including more detail about it on the product page).
I also like that Amazon continues to ship these Echo devices with a 3.5mm audio jack, so that you can plug in headphones (yes, I still have some) or connect the Echo to a larger, better legacy speaker if you so choose. Why other smart speaker manufacturers like Google/Nest don't do this baffles me.
Amazon is really trying to hammer home its concern for user privacy, and it prominently features callouts to this on the product web page and in the directions included in the box. As with other Echo devices, the Echo Dot with Clock has a physical mute button on the top of the device that, when pressed, activates a red LED light ring to give you a visual confirmation that the device isn't listening to you. You can also ask Alexa to "delete what I just said" or "delete my recordings for the last month" at any time, or manage your voice recordings and personal data in the Amazon Privacy Hub.
Now to address the hot new feature — that LED clock and display. It seems like such an obvious feature that it's a wonder it took Amazon this long to add it. The Echo Dot makes a perfect bedside or desktop companion, as these are places where it is beneficial to have a clock or timer and not much else to distract you from sleeping, working, or whatever you may be doing. And for only $10 more than the regular Echo Dot (3rd Gen), I think the LEDs are truly a killer feature of the Echo Dot with Clock.
As you can see from the photos above, the Echo Dot with Clock will keep a constant display of the time, which thankfully sets automatically when you connect it to your Wi-Fi (I hate manually setting clocks). You can also ask Alexa what the temperature is outside and that will appear on the LED display. Additionally, if you ask Alexa to set a timer, the live countdown will appear. As far as I could tell, the LED display doesn't appear to be dynamic, as in it doesn't get brighter in the light or darker in the shadows; rather, it stays at a slightly dim, yet still visible, level of brightness.*
Update - 11/21/19, it was pointed out to me that the Echo Dot with Clock DOES in fact have adaptive brightness, which you can toggle on/off or adjust in the Display settings for the device in the Alexa app. It is set on by default, which is why I didn't notice it... it's just that good!
Any requests I made of Alexa regarding time or timers, or even the weather, were met with an immediate verbal response from the speaker and an immediate visual response on the LED display, and it was impressive to see the answers to those questions put on display so quickly.
Another fun feature of the Echo Dot with Clock is its tap to snooze setting. When an alarm that you set goes off, you can shush it by tapping on the top of the Dot (like you would a traditional alarm clock), and the alarm will be silenced. This feature can be controlled in the Alexa app settings per the images below. A nice nostalgic touch to a modern alarm clock!
Amazon Echo Dot with Clock What don't I like
Honestly, I don't have many complaints about this little device. I think the price is fair, especially when you compare it against the Echo Dot (3rd Gen) or Nest Mini which are only $10 less but have less overall utility. I also think it looks good and sounds pretty great too. But if I were to pull on a few threads that were bothering me ever so slightly, it would be the following...
I think the Sandstone (white) color looks nice and complements the white LED lights well, but I feel it would be even better if Amazon would give us a few more color options (at least a Charcoal version too?). There are now four color variations of the 3rd Gen Echo Dot (Sandstone, Charcoal, Heather Gray, and Plum) and the same amount for the Nest Mini (Chalk, Charcoal, Coral, and Sky), so not adding at least one more color to the Echo Dot with Clock line seems like a missed opportunity. Perhaps we'll see another color roll out in the near future, or at the very least when the product is next updated. It's possible Amazon didn't think the white LEDs would look good behind a darker fabric, or that they just wanted to test the waters to see what the reception to this device would be. Not sure.
It's possible Amazon didn't think the white LEDs would look good behind a darker fabric.
Another minor annoyance is that this generation of Dot (and other recent Echoes) have forgone a USB charging port for a more traditional power port. It was nice to be able to get a longer (or shorter) USB cord when I needed it, or to power it off of another device. Minor quibble, but worth noting.
And finally, as much as I liked the sound and as improved as it is over older Dots, it's still not top-notch. I felt like the louder I cranked it, the more the highs got a little distorted, particularly when playing music with a heavy beat like rap or rock. Vocals and acoustic music sounded really great, though.
Amazon Echo Dot with Clock Should you buy it?
In case you couldn't tell, I think the Echo Dot with Clock is a great little smart speaker. It has a handy always-on display that can show you the time, the weather, or a countdown timer, and it sounds better than any Dot before it. It is priced competitively with similar devices, and should be on sale quite a bit in the coming months.
If you are in the market for your first smart speaker, or if you just want to add another one (or more) around your home, I fully recommend that you pick this up over the regular Echo Dot (3rd Gen), unless you REALLY care about the lack of color options. Even still, I think the added utility of the LED display outweighs the color considerations.
Make a dash to get this Dot
Time to upgrade your Dot
The smallest Echo speaker now comes with an LED clock, and when an alarm comes up, you can tap the top to snooze it.
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