Amazon Echo Dot (2020) Review – Price and Performance (4th Gen)

The Amazon Echo Dot (2020) represents the fourth iteration of Amazon’s compact and well-liked Dot speaker. For those who are hesitant about investing in smart home technology but still want to dip their toes in the water, the Amazon Echo Dot, with its straightforward setup and affordable price, is an excellent option. This small, sphere-shaped device offers a convenient location for Alexa to reside in your home. Also, it has adequate sound quality to fill most rooms, although it may not satisfy audiophiles seeking to compete with their sound system.

With a price tag of under $50 / £50 / AU$80, it’s no wonder why the Dot has become one of the most sought-after Alexa and smart speakers on the market. In fact, many people own multiple Dots in their homes because of their usefulness.

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Amazon Echo Dot – Price

The Amazon Echo Dot has become a popular smart speaker option for households around the world. While the 2020 version of the Echo Dot has some noteworthy improvements, it still carries some of the same issues as its predecessors. Specifically, it lacks a Zigbee hub and the line-out jack is not optimal for those who wish to use the device as a speaker for their audio player. It’s worth noting that the sound quality is good. But it’s not necessarily the best-sounding speaker on the market.

Gladly, there is some good news on the horizon. In late 2022, Amazon unveiled a new version of the Echo Dot that boasts improved audio quality. In the meantime, the 2020 version of the Amazon Echo Dot offers similar features to the 3rd generation model. While it has received a facelift and some minor improvements, it doesn’t quite have the innovation necessary to push it into a 4 or 4.5 star rating, according to some critics.

If you’re interested in purchasing an Echo Dot, there are a few pricing options available. The standard Echo Dot price is $49.99 / £49.99 / AU$79, while the Echo Dot with Clock is priced slightly higher at $59.99 / £59.99 / AU$99. For those purchasing for a child’s room, there is a special Echo Dot Kids Edition. It has a super-cute ball-like design with panda and tiger-style grilles. It costs a little bit higher than the standard Echo Dot. But is designed to be kid-friendly.

While there aren’t many other cheap smart speaker options on the market currently, it’s worth mentioning the Google Nest Mini. This device is priced at $49.99 / £49 / AU$79, but is often on sale for $35 / £35. Overall, the Amazon Echo Dot is a solid choice for a smart speaker, but it’s important to consider your individual needs and preferences before making a purchase.

Design and Changes

The 4th generation Amazon Echo Dot has a completely new design compared to its previous models. The old hockey puck shape does not exist. It now has a palm-sized sphere, giving it a modern, space-age look. The chassis is divided into two parts – a layer of hard mesh and a plastic back piece with rubber feet on the bottom. This prevents scratches on surfaces. The translucent plastic ring at the bottom serves as the LED indicator light, with different colors indicating when Alexa is listening, when the microphone is muted or when the speaker has lost its internet connection.

The top of the speaker features four control buttons – volume up, volume down, microphone off/on and a button to summon Alexa. While you can replace most of these using voice commands, and they are a convenient addition. At the back of the speaker, there is a power connector. Also, you can find a 3.5mm aux jack. You can use it as a line out port to send the audio signal to an external speaker. However, it’s disappointing that the 3.5mm aux jack doesn’t double as a line in port like it does on the full-size Amazon Echo.

At the top layer of the Amazon Echo Dot, peel it away and you will find a single 1.6-inch full-range front-firing speaker. It works for producing the entire frequency range of sound for the speaker. Unfortunately, the sound quality is not the best. It’s a great feature that the 3.5mm aux jack. You can use it to connect the Echo Dot to an external speaker to improve the sound quality.

Despite the lackluster sound quality, the microphone array is inside the speaker. But we had no complaints about the Echo Dot’s ability to hear us over the sound of our music and process our commands accurately. Overall, while the new design is a refreshing change, the sound quality is not the speaker’s strong suit.

Feature – Alexa Command

The Amazon Echo Dot’s main feature is Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant. Setting up the Echo Dot is a simple process. You can do it easily by using the Alexa app. Once set up, users can ask Alexa to do a variety of tasks. For example, setting timers, creating calendar events, playing music, reading the news, and controlling smart home devices that have been paired with another Amazon Echo device.

However, the Echo Dot lacks a built-in Zigbee hub. It means that it cannot pair with smart home devices on its own. This limitation makes it less attractive to smart home enthusiasts. It is less interesting to support you building out your smart home ecosystem.

For parents, the Kids Edition of the Echo Dot is a good option. It features Alexa Voice Profiles for Kids. This automatically changes Alexa’s responses to be kid-friendly when it recognizes a child’s voice. Additionally, the Reading Sidekick feature can help children with reading and provide encouragement when they are struggling. While these features are helpful for families, they do not make up for the Echo Dot’s lack of a Zigbee hub.

Sound Quality

The Amazon Echo Dot (2020) delivers clear vocals and emphasizes speech in podcasts. Therefore, it is a good choice for those who prioritize mid-range sound quality. However, the soundstage is shallow and lacks separation between instruments.

Despite its spherical design, the audio is focused and directional, with best results when standing a few feet in front of it. Bass and treble response can sound muted at almost any volume level. But you can adjust it individually by asking Alexa to raise the bass, midrange or treble.

The speaker gets moderately loud at maximum volume. But it doesn’t seem to be able to sustain it for an extended period of time. Overall, the Echo Dot is a decent desk speaker but may not be the best choice for home parties.

Why Must Buy Amazon Echo Dot

Consider buying the Echo Dot if you already have an Alexa speaker and need to extend its reach throughout your home. The setup process is quick and easy if you already have the Alexa app downloaded. Besides, the two devices work together seamlessly.

Additionally, if you have an older speaker that needs an upgrade to modernize it, the Echo Dot is a great option. By connecting it to your speaker using a 3.5mm audio cable, you can enjoy the smart capabilities of Alexa. It completes  superior sound quality of your existing speaker.

Why Must Avoid Buying Amazon Echo Dot

Avoid buying it if:

  • You expect high-quality sound from a speaker. If you’re an audiophile and you’re looking for crystal-clear sound quality, the Amazon Echo Dot may not be the best option for you. While it works well as a desk speaker for background music, it may not impress your audiophile friends.
  • You’re just starting with smart home technology. If you’re new to smart home technology, the Amazon Echo Dot may not be the best starting point. Although it can control some devices with separate hubs, but without a Zigbee hub built-in, it has limited capabilities.
  • You can find a better deal on the previous model. If you’re on a budget and looking for a good deal, consider purchasing the previous model, Amazon Echo (3rd Gen), instead. The sound quality isn’t drastically different, and you can find it at a lower price during sales.

Summary

In conclusion, the Amazon Echo Dot (2020) is a solid device. It can provide a lot of value in the right circumstances. It offers good mid-range sound quality and is a great choice if you already have an Alexa speaker in your home and want to extend Alexa’s reach.

Additionally, it can breathe new life into an older speaker with its smart capabilities. However, if you’re looking for a high-end speaker with exceptional sound quality, this may not be the right choice for you. Ultimately, the Amazon Echo Dot (2020) is a great option for those who want a versatile, budget-friendly smart speaker with solid performance.

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