Echo Dot (3rd Gen) Review
A Deeper Look
Let's just quickly go over the specs of the version 3 here. So you are looking at a device that is 3.9 inches wide by 3.9 inches high because it is a circle and has a depth of 1.7. Now it is considerably heavier than the Echo Dot version 2 at 10.6 ounces or 300 grams. At the top of the device is a matte plastic finish. You'll notice that you have four a little pin holes, there those are for the four speakers the Echo Dot 3 has as opposed to the 7 speakers that the Echo Dot 2 had. On the top of the device, aside from the little pin holes, you have for the microphones, you have this LED light ring which will light up when you activate the echo with the activation or trigger phrase. You will also notice that the light will change a slightly lighter portion as it's following you around to let you know which microphone is listening to you. So you have your volume up hard key your volume down hard key, your trigger phrase activation, so you don't always have to use your voice to activate, all you have to do is push on that and ask your question and then a dedicated hard you button. Sadly even though echo has come a long way and made a lot of changes, when I first got the version 3, they still will not let you actuate the mute action by voice you do have to use this hard button.
Upgrades from Echo Dot 2
The big change that the echo version 3 has is your speaker grill and it goes pretty much all the way around the device except for a little cut out. Now its fabrics are very similar to the Google home mini, so they kinda have up scaled a little bit compared to the echo 2. Which you can see is just shiny plastic and at the top you'll see the perforated cut outs for the 7 microphones. Notice that the version 3 is considerably thicker. So while this one was about the size of a hockey puck this one is chunkier and that's because of the bigger speaker that outperforms the Echo Dot 2 in every way shape and form. Around the back you will notice that you have just 2 ports similar to how you had just 2 ports in the back of the echo version 2, you will see a major difference, they both have the 3.5 millimeter output so you can attach these hardline to a better speaker which you probably want to do with your echo 2 or echo 3. But you'll notice the echo 2 has a micro USB port while the. Version 3 has a dedicated power line, so sadly unlike with the version 2 where you could just grab any old micro USB cable and plug it in this one if you screw up the power cable that comes with it you have to get a nother dedicated power cable from Amazon. At the bottom you have a rubberized texture all around and it does pick up dirt and dust rather easily but it helps it to stay in place.
Okay so you have here a 6 foot cable and there is your dedicated in with a power brick that is 1.5 by 1.5 by 2 inches so it is definitely different than the previous plug that you had with the version 2 it does sit considerably closer to the wall however the footprint is much bigger than the old version so that is something again to keep in mind you do get more cable age than you did with the original echo 2 but you do you have. Tradeoffs so to speak one of your next questions aside from you know differences between the echo.version 2 and version 3 would probably be how easy is it to set up the echo this may be your first device that you're getting to help you with home automation or just to have a voice assistant so let me show you how easy it is to set up the echo version 3 campus again the setting up of the echo.version 3. Start off by putting it in and waiting. And this is all in real time to give you an idea just in case yours takes this long but you don't panic. Hello your devices ready for set up just follow the instructions in your Alexa app. All right so I turned that down a little bit so that it's not overwhelmingly loud. So we're gonna go into. The echo. Apt that shall not be named and we come down and select in the lower right hand corner of the. Devices area and then we come up to the plus sign here. And select that we have a new device. And then we have choices Amazon echo lights plugs we are going to select an echo and this is the echo.I see that they have lots of different choices but they don't differentiate.1 version 2 or version 3 so we're gonna select version 3 okay so here it actually does show you the difference which is nice so version 3 or version 1 and 2 you can skip this step if you wanted to but I'm not going to we're gonna say version 3. And then here is the available device. A select that and it's. Asking us to select our wifi so we are going to put it on. Hello there because that's where I put all of my I O. T. devices. And now we wait for it to connect the dots. So you can see in the background there. But the phone over to the side so maybe I'll be a little easier to see as it's spinning with color so there you go. Your daughter is now set up. Tap continue rice is ready yeah so there it says the devices right sorry click to continue. And then you have an extra things connect. Cable Bluetooth use echoes built in speaker so we are going to say use the built in speaker. And now it's just bringing me back to the. Main login page so this is actually set up so if I said. Alexa. What is the weather in Gettysburg. In Gettysburg Pennsylvania it's 48°F with cloudy skies today you can look for lots of clouds with a high of 49 degrees and a low of 39 degrees. And that's the set up. All right so like you saw it that simple yes it did take a little more time but that's in real time you'll notice now that I also have the echo plugged in so we're gonna talk about some of the brains of the operation after the few little extras that we have to talk about with the actual device because the thing is the echo ecosystem everything is done in the cloud so realistically we're looking at the peripheral here this is a means to get to all of that Amazon data so you are looking at being able to support dual band wifi so 802.11 A. B. G. N. and AC as well as 5 gigahertz same thing A. B. G. N. AC so I would recommend sticking with the 2.4 gigahertz spectrum so that you can places further away while the 5 gigahertz spectrum can be faster it limits your range with these things now I have also limited the amount of data that they can use over my network mainly because I have a lot of home automation things plugged in and I don't want them choking my network so keep in mind that anything that I reference with the version 3 to version 2 I have also done to the version 2 so I've limited the network capability to 1.5 Meg up and down for this as well as I did for the version 2 now I still have 2 other echo dots in my house this has replaced the 1 that was sitting in my bedroom so I still have the 1 in my kitchen and the other old echo.version she was not going to live in my second bedroom now 1 of my concerns with the new version gonna do that for a second new version versus the old version is the build quality the build quality is excellent with the spot similar to my complaints with the Google home mini this fabric limits my placement of where I can put this because I don't want to get this dirty V. other echo.that I have lives in my kitchen there's grease splatter over everywhere I just wipe it off waited down and I don't have to. Worry about it with something like this around the device it kind of makes it so that I'm concerned about where to put this if you're putting this in a living room or bedroom situation you won't have to worry but if you're considering putting in your kitchen you definitely don't want to consider where in your kitchen you're gonna put this just something to think about yeah you did seem in need the device you can see this red ring around there that indicates that it is no longer listening and from this point in the video on I will be saying the trigger phrase quite frequently now with the trigger phrases you have choices it doesn't just have to be what you hear on the TV which is Alexa you can also use computer or Amazon now I've tried using computer code as well I'm a nerd and Star Trek but you're going to probably under the work computer or your computer ordered uttered on your TV set a lot more than you would. Alexa or Amazon. Now since I mentioned TV set placement of these is key R. I do have one that lives under my entertainment center and it does get triggered occasionally from people talking on the TV now that's not then saying the trigger phrase it just arbitrarily goes off every now and then still haven't figured out why every time it happens I sent in the report I go false flag it shouldn't be doing that why is it doing that so keep in mind it may turn on by itself all you have to do is say trigger phrase stop or trigger phrase turn off our if you happen to be watching a program something like South Park that recall the whole bunch of people who had echo devices by their TV sets just keep in mind that is a possibility you can always just mute it. But you have to use the physical button so we're gonna take me off and I'm going to start saying the trigger phrase a lot so please keep that in mind starting off I say Alexa and you will notice. Blue light all around now I'm going to shadow that just a little bit because I want you to see I'm gonna say stuff and the late will change slightly Alexa so when I come over here you can see that light is slightly moving because it's trying to figure out which microphone. Which microphone to use to listen to me. And you did hear her maybe say because I have the lapel Mike on so you can't really hear that well I really don't know that one because she couldn't figure out what I was talking about now aside from the built in Mike's on this it also has a technology called far field communication so if you happen to have more than one of these in your house it will be able to determine which one is closer to you and use that echo in order to actually a particular skill which is very helpful so you don't have 2 of them trying to run the same skill at once and that's also why all the other echoes that are still plugged in are muted in my house so I don't have to worry about that there are a lot of things that you can do with the echo here it has basic knowledge information you can run queries you can do maths all that fun happy stuff, has not changed its still is capable of doing that because the brain's elects all lives. 6 I can use a button to turn it off if I wanted to. All lives in the cloud what because it lives in the cloud a lot of the things that I was talking about have changed they've made improvements are. Mainly being routines routines is something that I wanted to discussI wanted to set up routine for my. Bed time where I would say trigger phrase action and then things would turn themselves on and off in my home automation system at the time they didn't have that but now they do with routines you can set up multiple actions to happen where things turn on and off just by saying a single trigger phrase now in this case the trigger phrase that I use is good night when I say good night things happen now because it's smart also when I say good night it does not say the acknowledgement phrase so if I said. Alexa turn on living room lights. Okay. I'm gonna turn that up a little bit. Alexa turn off living room lights. Okay notice how she says okay. When I say that good night one she does not say anything now you will notice I did turn up the volume a little bit the volume scale is based off of one to 10 unlike in previous versions you can actually now tell it to Alexa increase the volume. Which will move up by one in the slot of 10 which is kind of nice that it does that now. Another thing that they've added is shortened a knowledge mints I don't use that because I don't mind it saying okay however I do like the fact that it has whisper mode so if you have this in a child's bedroom and you say Alexa. Turn out better lights. Which one did you want. Bedroom light. Okay. So you can whisper to it and it will whisper back to you and I I really appreciate this one especially since I have a late in my bedroom which my wife sometimes comes into bed a little later than I do and the one light is a. TV link light over their smart light so she can use this to turn it on and off and not wake me up because it's nice and quiet the other thing that they did is create they they they created. Groups so I have one group in my entire house which is just everywhere and that is every echo device that I have I can tell it to play some music and it will play that everywhere on all the devices all at once another thing that I complained about was I wish I could trigger music from this device but to play on a different device will guess what Amazon does that now I can trigger something from here over there now the one thing that still irks me a little bit is I want to be able to have a flash briefing which is just a grouping of skills that kinda is like ability news report start on one finish on another or trigger it from one to the other that one will not work also and I think I figured this out is because flash briefing is a skill if I were to do that skill and then trying to trigger a TP link skill to turn something on or off it kills the flash briefing if you were playing music and literature skill the music would need down and then the skill would happen and music would come back so that's that's kind of nice so one of the things that still can be an issue you may have noticed I don't know if you heard it for sure with the whisper mode activated there were things that shared a similar name sake but I have found especially since it's around the holidays with my Christmas tree you don't have to be exact with the wording that you say to trigger something of that nature so make sure you what that looks like Alexa turn on Christmas tree. Okay Alexa. Turn off Christmas tree. Okay. Alexa. Turn on Christmas lights. Okay. Alexa turn off Christmas lights. Okay Alexa. Turn on Christmas. Okay. Alexa turn off Christmas. Okay so not terrible it as you saw it it's just a little little thing to consider. Now a lot of the features that I've been talking about that the echo.version 3 here can do require you to use the Amazon key app now to keep this video short I do have a full review or walk through of the Amazon an application which can be found the corner there so if you wanted to see how to set some of these things up like whisper mode or flash briefings you can go check that video out and that'll show you how to do that. So what I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna bring the lapel Mike over to the echo here to give you an example of what the sound actually sounds like now I'm not gonna crank it all the way up we're just gonna start up and let you hear something. Alexa play rock music. Here's a station for rock music classic rock on Amazon music. This this is this just fantasy. Alexa. Play latest episode of daily tech news show. Getting the latest episode of daily tech news show here it is from Tunis. Thanks everybody who supports independent tech news directly if you're not already become a DDNS member at Petri on.com slash T. T. E. N. S.. So there you have a few examples of what the limited volume of this sounds like not wasn't all the way up just keep that in mind this does crank much better than the echo version to do it. Now 1 of things I do want to talk about is the perceived delayed that I noticed between the version 3 and the version 28 it is noticeable that it does take a little longer it seems to process your request it's not terribly long so it's not going to screw with your work flow at all but I did notice when we first got this that it would take a little longer to process and it's not terrible just slightly noticeable so 1 of the new things that they also have done not necessary with the version 3 here but Amazon echo devices now support multiple accounts now they did before you just have to switch between the 2 but now similar to Google home this will recognize multiple vocal patterns and determine whose account should be used and that is very useful even though my wife doesn't use this quite as much as I do except to turn things on and off so aside from the speaker 1 of the big things that is different between the version 3 and the version 2 is the power cable and power consumption of the version 3 because it does have a larger speaker it does use a little more power so when Idoling it uses between 1.4 and 2 bots and when you actually play something it uses between 2.6 and 2.9 what's now when you get your initial LED flare up there it does use a spike of a bit more on both but it's just limited to when the mikes are being active in the LED is going so not terrible it's it's low enough in power usage that you can have a couple the stacked around her house and not have to worry that they're going to chew up a lot of electricity now I did try and limit being redundant between things that I covered in the echo.version to review I suggest if you're looking for like all of the skills and stuff that these devices can do that you go check that out I was trying to do a balancing act between the new things that the version 3 can do and just specific things that the version 3 hats. What if you are looking for something that is your first foray into a voice assistant or a home automation hub because you can use this for home automation and for the most part it talks to everything and anything although Amazon has started down the road of producing its own home home automation equipment over there is a review for a Amazon branded smart switch so this is a platform for them they're using it. But they're starting to limit. Who they talk to which has me a little concerned but it's still talks to enough other vendors that I'm not terribly concerned so the echo.version 3 here is well worth considering even though depending on when you get this the price can fluctuate it's sitting at the normal price of what the past normal price of the echo.version chip which is anywhere between $50 and $25 on sale I have seen it as low as $20 during some of the Christmas time stuff for 2018. But then you also have to consider the echo.version 2 is going on sale as well and it's slightly cheaper so the question is that 5 or 10 extra dollars do you want to spend on the version 3 well to you I say do you need the better speaker if your dog is by something that you can plug into and have better speakers the note you don't need this. Personal opinion but if you need the better speaker than the version 3 is what you want to get now with that said I have been wondering double one