Amazon has improved its portable Echo Dot device, shaving a few millimeters off the top and dropping the price down to $49.99. It also made it more accessible; unlike the first version, you don’t need to already own an Amazon Echo to buy it.
The Dot, which at just 3.3 inches wide by 1.3 inches tall is the smallest of Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices, will start shipping Oct. 20. In its biggest improvement, Amazon said it has updated the speech processor to deliver better speech-recognition accuracy from further distances. Amazon also introduced new Echo Spatial Perception (ESP) technology for consumers who want more than one Alexa-enabled device in their homes. According to Amazon, ESP is able to determine which device is in the best location to answer a question or complete a request. It’s a learning technology that will improve over time, the e-tailer noted, and will be available as a free update for all Echo devices, including the first-gen Dot, in a few weeks.
Although the Dot has built-in Bluetooth, it’s not recommended for use as a speaker. Instead, consumers are advised to connect external speakers either via Bluetooth or the 3.5mm aux input. Amazon is offering bundle pricing with Bose SoundLink Mini II speakers, as well as with Ecobee smart thermostats, Philips Hue starter kits and TP-Link smart plugs.
Consumers can also purchase the Dot in six- and 12-packs (buy five, get one free, or buy 10, get two free), should they wish to have multiple versions in their homes. It will now come in both black and white.
Amazon’s Alexa Cloud-based voice technology is undeniably a driving force in the smart-home market, and the new Dot clearly intends to make it even more accessible. The number of third-party devices compatible with Alexa grows every day, with Alexa now able to complete more than 3,000 “skills.” According to Amazon, there are more than 10,000 registered developers working to integrate Alexa into their products.