The third generation Dot sound
is better, and it has a new fabric surround in Charcoal, Heather Grey, and
Sandstone. It has added a whole inch to its .6” second generation speaker.
GadgetGuy had a brief listen at launch, and
it plays acceptable music at bedroom sound levels. The $79 speaker is your
entry point to the world of Amazon.
The second-generation $229 Plus is smaller in stature and
still has a smart hub to control selected Zigbee partner devices. It has upped
the ‘woofer’ from 2.5” to 3” and the tweeter from .6” to .8”. It rounds out a
warm and sweet sound that is best for easy listening music.
As with all Echo speakers our concern was lack of bass for
good movie and music sound.
Again, we heard this at launch with a pair of Echo Plus in a
2.1 stereo configuration. The Sub has a 6” down-firing woofer and a 100W class
D amp. Amazon claims it cuts in at 30Hz. Yes, it does have hints at that
frequency, but meaningful bass creeps in
later at about 50-60Hz. Still, this $199
option adds what Alexa Echo speakers have been lacking.
The 2.1 set-up
provided enough volume and quality of lounge filling sound. There is a 20% discount
off a pair of Plus and a Sub making that $525.60 (normally $657).
At that price however you can get far better sound from a $599 Sonos Beam (Alexa enabled and GadgetGuy review here) or a $499 JBL Bar 2.1 or 3.1 or 5.1 (Review here ) and use a $79 Echo Dot to add Alexa. In all cases, you will need an Amazon Fire TV stick to add TV control.
show adds a 10.1” HD 1280 x 800 screen (plays movies in 720p with a small top
and bottom black bar). It also has two x
2” (left and right) 10W speakers, a passive radiator (to enhance bass) and Dolby
processing (to reduce distortion). At the launch,
it produced reasonable sound and plenty of volume,
albeit a little harsh at the top end.
It has a Zigbee hub (like the Echo Plus), a front-facing 5MP camera, four far-field front
mics and connects via Wi-Fi (up to AC dual-band
MIMO). It also has Bluetooth for music streaming from a smartphone.
The screen adds an often-needed visual element to voice
control. For example, recipes and instructions are
better shown than spoken.
We will be reviewing it soon.
Readers frequently ask what voice assistant should you use?
Alexa has some cool features like hands-free calling (and video-calling on the Show and Spot), an intercom function (between Echo devices), and a range of skills that make use of voice control and its Zigbee hub functionality. Apart from that, it is a portal to Amazon Prime shopping and services and a voice assistant and all that entails.
To be fair to all voice assistants (Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Bixby, LG ThinQ, Google Assistant, IBM Watson and more) have many equally cool features as well. The answer to what you should use depends on which ecosystem you choose and how much you trust the provider.
It is a question GadgetGuy’s smart home expert is objectively working on, and we hope to have more clarity for you soon. Spoiler alert: You really can’t have a foot in all camps, so it comes down to Siri for Apple users, OK Google for Android users, and Alexa for shoppers!