If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?
I was six years old when Smart House premiered on the Disney Channel. You know, the movie where PAT, the A.I. that runs the smart house, decides she should become wife and mother of the household and even builds herself a virtual body. It’s an excellent film. It’s also the film that ignited my fear of robots, because I don’t think the story is outside the realm of possibility.
After iRobot, Ex Machina and most recently The Mitchells vs. The Machines, I can’t figure out why people are still pursuing A.I. Seriously. If my house can detect a threat and seal all my windows and doors with shields of whatever the real-life equivalent of vibranium is to keep me safe, it can also do that on a whim. To lock me in. Forever.
I love technology and I’m interested in products that make life easier, but I’m not ready for smart locks yet. I cautiously purchased my first Alexa device, the Echo Dot, to see if I can live with a smart assistant.
Echo Dot (4th Gen) | Smart Speaker
Benefits of the Echo Dot with clock, Amazon’s most popular smart speaker with Alexa:
- A sleek, compact design that delivers crisp vocals and balanced bass for full sound.
- See the time, alarms, and timers on the LED display.
- Control your smart home – Use your voice to turn on lights, adjust thermostats, and lock doors with compatible devices.
- Built with multiple layers of privacy controls including a mic off button.
Now, the reason I was willing to try this is that the Echo Dot has to be plugged into a walk to work. Start playing creepy music at 2 am without being asked and you will be UNPLUGGED, Alexa (please note, this has never happened to me, I just like to be prepared).
I started out with a single Echo Dot in my kitchen to set cooking timers and play music. It’s nice to have both hands free for chopping veggies or cleaning and just talk to Alexa to get recipes, set timers, and set the ambiance.
But then I learned that if you have multiple devices you can do fun things like play music throughout the house from all of the speakers at once. You can also ask Alexa to announce that dinner is ready and she’ll do so on all other devices throughout the house so you don’t have to run around and find everyone or yell up and down the stairs. Now I have one in every room.
The Echo Dot has almost 165,000 5-star reviews. One reviewer raves about elevating their home theater:
I purchased two of these to achieve true stereo. The updated spherical design is a great update to the column design. Although the speakers are physically small they are relatively heavy. The sound quality is superb and the volume is more than adequate. Set up was easy using the app. These are great addition to my family room.
Kevin I. Medley
Another also fears these computer companions knowing more than they should, but Amazon stepped up the privacy features for their 4th-generation Echo Dot which enticed her to buy.
I had stayed away from Alexa for a long time, because it just freaked me out that “she” was listening to everything, all the time… there’s a button you can now press that makes it so she doesn’t listen to you. Also, you can have her delete everything she has ever heard, and all sorts of other features now that protect your privacy.. now I’m totally “Alexafied”!
Privacy isn’t the only improvement with the 4th-gen Echo Dot. Amazon has upgraded sound quality, voice detection, and more. The clock display can be turned off for those who need total darkness to sleep.
The clock display is another awesome feature. My son had some cheap alarm clock that had a display you could barely read in the light and it was impossible in the dark. This one is perfectly legible in both dark and light and isn’t too bright in the dark that it’s distracting. It’s also nice that it will show a timer countdown as it nears the end and will show volume level if/when adjusting that. We are very pleased with this new version and would absolutely recommend it!
Alexa can do a million things that I haven’t discovered yet because I’m still easing into our relationship. She can greet you when you get home, one of many options through Alexa Routines. Routines are shortcuts that save you time by grouping together a bunch of actions. For example, if you like to start your day with a weather report and a podcast, you can set up a routine where Alexa reports the weather and starts playing your favorite podcast once you dismiss your alarm.
While the routines are awesome, sometimes I forget I asked Alexa to remind me to drink water whenever she hears me cough so I’ll cough and she’ll start talking and I’ll be running to unplug her. Trust issues. If you have a friend or coworker named Alexa, you’ll probably want to change her wake word.
The Echo Dot also works with Fire TV so Alexa can queue up the movie while you make the popcorn and you don’t have to touch the remote. Paired with a Ring doorbell, Alexa will announce on all of your speaker devices when someone is at the door.
If you don’t have these products, you’re in luck, because it’s early Prime Day! Starting June 21st, Amazon US is discounting Amazon products, including those mentioned here, leading up to Prime Day. Amazon Prime Day 2022 will take place July 12 & 13. The deals are insane, with some products up to 50% off, so set your reminders!
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- Vibrant 4K Ultra HD with support for Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+.
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- Alexa Voice Remote
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So far I’ve done my best to be super nice to Alexa so she won’t want to take over my life and lock me inside. I have yelled at her a handful of times when she hasn’t listened to me or when she randomly started doing something I didn’t ask her to, but I always apologize and then we play a game.
Whether you go with the Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick, Cube or Smart TV, or all of the above, Alexa can make your home more efficient and entertaining. Smart homes are the future, and I’d rather be on the robot side when the revolution happens.