There’s a reason Amazon’s Echo Dot speakers are so popular. Compact and easy to use, these smart speakers fit into any room in your home and offer an affordable way to add smart home functionality for as little as $50 to $60. It doesn’t hurt that Amazon pioneered Alexa’s virtual assistant technology in 2014.
Now in its 5th generation, the latest Clocked Echo Dot is still compelling and affordable, but has been upgraded with features like better audio quality, a temperature sensor, and faster Alexa responses. Plus, it can now double as an eero mesh Wi-Fi extender for faster home internet.
I’ve been using the Echo Dot with a clock for two weeks, listening to podcasts and music, snoozing my alarm, and glancing at the weather and song titles on the small LED display. While I already have the Echo Spot and Echo Show at home and integrated into my smart home features, I don’t think I need a point with a clock – but it’s proven to be a welcome and useful addition.
If you’re a current 4th-generation Echo Dot owner, you probably won’t need to upgrade, although the new information on the LED screen is certainly a handy feature. Can’t decide? Here’s what you need to know about the latest Echo Dot with Clock.
The best budget smart speakers just got better
The latest Amazon Echo Dot improves on our favorite budget smart speaker with better audio, Wi-Fi expansion, and a better LED display on the clock model.
At first glance, the Echo Dot with Clock looks a lot like the 4th-generation model, with the top half of the spherical device covered in fabric and the bottom wrapped in matte plastic. The top has four slightly raised volume, mute, and motion controls — all of which can be used to trigger Alexa — and it’s available in muted charcoal and glacier white.
But look closer and you’ll notice that the front LED display now has a brighter scrolling display, so it can show the time, the weather, the music you’re listening to, and all sorts of useful information. It may not seem like much, but I found it very useful.
When I ask Alexa for the day’s weather, I’m used to listening, but now I find myself glancing at the display and seeing it scroll by numbers too. For example, a light rain icon or cloud gives me an immediate idea of what to expect for the day. You can also check if an alarm is set by looking for a dot at the bottom, which is useful since I’ve been worried that I forgot to ask Alexa to wake me up. Having the clock display adds $10 to the price (the latest Echo Dot is $50 without the clock), but I think it’s a worthwhile upgrade.
New temperature and gesture sensors
Another interesting new feature is the Echo Dot’s two new sensors; one for temperature and an accelerometer for interacting with the speaker using gestures. In addition to voice control, you can tap the top of the Dot to play and pause music, snooze alarms or timers, and more. I’m so used to saying “Alexa, stop the timer” that I have to remind myself that I can tap it if it’s next to me. It worked well and was terribly responsive—which is great, because sometimes I have to say more than once to issue a command to the Echo Spot.
As for the temperature sensor, yes, it will tell you the temperature of the room it’s in. But it turns out to be more useful than it sounds, especially if you have Alexa Routines set up in your home. For example, the sensor could interact with other smart home devices to turn a ceiling fan on or off when the room reaches a certain temperature.
The Echo Dot won’t give you the rich, crisp sound of more expensive audio gear, but it sounds pretty good for a small Bluetooth speaker. The updated Gen 5 model uses larger drivers for clearer vocals and deeper bass.
Aside from Alexa’s statements about the weather and my schedule, I mostly use it for podcasts and audiobooks. I did spend a few days playing music, and while it couldn’t compete with my Sonos speakers, it was fine for casual listening. I found that it delivered strong, room-filling sound, and while it might not deliver huge bass, it also didn’t sound too tinny. You obviously can’t get the frequency range of a device with multiple drivers, but it’s one driver that should suffice.
Of course, if you’re looking for better sound, you can always use Bluetooth to pair the Dot with other Echo or Fire TV devices in your home. If you don’t normally use a soundbar, you may find it offers a better audio experience than your TV’s speakers. However, Amazon removed the 3.5mm audio jack from the 5th-gen Echo Dot, so you can no longer physically connect it to a larger speaker.
As an eero mesh Wi-Fi user, the idea of using an Echo Dot with Clock to extend the Wi-Fi in my home sounds tempting, but unfortunately, I’ve never been able to increase the level of my 1,550 sqm one floor Speed feet home.
Amazon’s eero mesh Wi-Fi system uses beacons to transmit and extend Wi-Fi signals throughout the house. How many beacons you use depends on the size of your home. To test this, I updated my eero router to a newer (eero 6+) generation, replacing the main eero router in my office and the beacon or extender in the middle of my house. I’m hoping to use the Echo Dot with the clock to extend the coverage further to the guest room on the other end.
Amazon says the eero Built-in can add up to 1,000 square feet of coverage to your existing eero mesh Wi-Fi network (it won’t work with any older routers) and supports speeds up to 100Mbps — but my results Nothing is not supported. While most parts of my house have over 200 Mbps down and up, as my son often tells me when he visits, the guest room is a dead zone, with average down and up speeds of about 40 Mbps and 7 Mbps. That’s enough to power the Ring Video Doorbell at the front door, but not enough to avoid buffering while he’s streaming video.
After linking my account in the Alexa app and downloading the update, I connected the Echo Dot and turned on the option to extend Wi-Fi. After running several tests on my phone as well as my son’s phone using the Speedtest app, I seem to actually be losing speed instead of gaining it.
When I emailed Amazon about this, they mentioned that there may be several factors that can affect Wi-Fi performance and coverage in a home — including layout, thickness of walls, and distance between eros. They advised me to change the location of my device and suggested removing the extra beacons I was using. When I ran my next speed test, I still didn’t get the increased speed I was hoping for, but at least it didn’t slow it down anymore.
While it didn’t quite work out in my setup, if you know you have a dead zone in your home and are an eero user, there’s a good chance the $60 Echo Dot with Clock will help. You won’t get the speed and coverage you get with the extra $99 eero beacon or the $79 eero extender, but it’s a more affordable solution if you just want to extend your signal to a smart door lock or outdoor camera , especially if you still want to buy an Echo device.
While Amazon is constantly updating its devices, it would be nice if the company also updated its outdated apps. The current Alexa app is difficult to navigate, not intuitive at all, and as consumers continue to add more smart home devices, the app struggles to help them stay properly organized and accessible. The app’s home tab provides information about things I might want to do or try, such as linking my calendar or managing my Alexa profile, but I’d prefer it to show me the devices I already have and how to manage and control them they.
The $60 Echo Dot with Clock is similar to the Google Nest Mini. They’re both small, affordable smart voice assistants that sound pretty good. But there are some differences.
The Echo Dot works with Amazon’s Alexa, so it’s a better option for fans of Alexa-enabled products or those with eero’s mesh Wi-Fi system. It also has a useful temperature sensor and an LED clock that scrolls useful information.
The $50 Google Nest Mini is also a powerful smart speaker that can use Google’s trained voice assistant. However, you don’t get add-ons like a clock or LCD screen. As you might expect, it integrates better with other Google or Nest smart home devices—so if you control your Nest Thermostat or Nest security system by voice, you might want to consider the Nest Mini.
Then there’s the $99 Apple HomePod Mini, which has better audio quality than the clocked Echo Dot, but is also nearly twice as expensive. While Apple users will appreciate its Apple HomeKit support, it doesn’t support as much music streaming as the Echo Dot. Plus you lose that funky clock, LCD screen and manual controls.
If you own a 4th Gen Echo Dot with a clock and don’t plan to add a new device to your home, there’s no need to upgrade. But if you’re in the market for a new smart speaker, or are using an older Echo smart home device, the Echo Dot with Clock is an affordable way to add smart features and music to any room in your home. This is a better version of our long-time pick for the best budget smart speaker, and it makes a great holiday gift.
Existing eero users will be pleased to know that the fourth-generation Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock will be upgraded to enable expanded Wi-Fi support in the coming months. Although I found the eero to be somewhat limited in its built-in features, it offers an excellent array of features, and it’s an affordable buy for anyone looking for a voice assistant with smart home integration. It’s even more helpful if you’re already fully immersed in the Amazon ecosystem.