I’ve been using Echo for a couple weeks now and it can do some pretty impressive things, however, now if you don’t need the speaker output of the Echo the Dot does just about everything for $50 now. By now if you’ve been researching it, you know all the big plus’s but here are some of the minor things I’d like to see changed/updated. (Promo Code For Amazon)
It’s integration is good, I was able to set it up with IFTTT and control my Harmony remote, it works pretty well with Hue lights. So it has no problem turning my entertainment system on or off, turning lights on an off, dimming them etc. It plays Amazon music well, setup is pretty easy, and it does an amazing job of hearing your voice even with background noise, something my Dot does not do nearly as well.
So onto the things I’d like to see it do better, or additional capabilities that other people looking to purchase one of these might want to know that I wish I knew up front.
1) It does not interface well with iTunes, and cannot interact with your iTunes library in any convenient manner. The only way you can get to your itunes music library is by pairing your phone. You can do this with a few voice commands, “Alexa Connect” will attempt to connect to your phone, it can go forward, backward etc. in your music but control is very limited, you cannot search for something in your library. For example if I ask it to play something that Amazon offers in it’s library and my itunes library, it will disconnect from the phone and play the Amazon version, meaning I have to reconnect the phone to get back to my music. Not sure whose being stubborn on this one Apple or Amazon but it’s not surprising they don’t play well together. Also the volume needs to be increased way up to play any connected bluetooth music source, once you are done then the volume on Alexa is way too high. So if you use iTunes it’s a pain, basically you might as well just control your music from the phone once connected (Promo Code for Bissell).
2) It cannot work “with” other DOT/Echo/etc. units to cover the whole house. For example if you have a Dot upstairs and you set a timer on your Echo in the kitchen, the Dot upstairs will not alert you when that timer is done. You also cannot use them to play music through the whole house. This might be a trade off, for example you can play two different music sources at the same time, and sometimes you don’t all the devices doing the same thing. Perhaps they need a new keyword that allows all Alexa devices to operate as whole house for music, alarms, Amazon Online codes, timers etc.
3) You cannot use it as a “That” in IFTTT. This is a huge disappointment. It’s easy to use IFTTT to set up a recipe where for example I say “Alexa trigger TV off” and Alexa will turn my entertainment system off using my Harmony remote. However you cannot make Alexa say something based on a trigger. For example it would be great if you could setup Alexa to notify you about events and say something like “There’s smoke in the basement”, or “There’s a severe thunderstorm warning active for this area”, “It’s 11pm and the garage door is still open” etc. Alexa can initiate other things to happen, but it cannot alert you that something else has happened.
Just a tip if you use the Hue lights, do not name your light bulbs and your rooms similar. While it seems logical and it works fine in Hue, Alexa will have problems with this. For example I had a bulbs called Kitchen 1, and Kitchen 2, and a room called Kitchen. Alexa would get confused with this when I’d say something like “Alexa Kitchen on 100%” It thought I was trying to control Kitchen 1.
All in all it’s a pretty good device but if you don’t need the speaker the Dot is probably a great and cheap way to see if you like using Alexa. If you decide you do and buy the Echo, you aren’t out anything because you’ll want to put the Dot upstairs, downstairs etc,nyway.
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