Amazon prefers to advance its Echo smart speakers in small steps rather than large ones, but sometimes small steps are sufficient. The fifth-generation Echo Dot sounds similar to the previous version, but new motion sensors allow you to interact with the speaker with a tap. It’s a capable smart speaker, but the Echo Dot With Clock adds an LED display that can show useful information in addition to the standard Echo Dot’s features.
The Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) design is largely the same as the previous model. It’s still a palm-sized orb wrapped in fabric with a flat bottom. The main difference is that the latest Echo Dot no longer has a 3.5mm audio line out, so you can’t connect it to a better-sounding speaker. Otherwise, the Echo Dot is so clean and minimalistic that it could be mistaken for modern decor at first glance. The fact that the controls are flush on top helps: there are volume controls, an Alexa action button, and a mute button, which you can enable when you don’t want Alexa to listen for its wake word.
If the light up ring on the base of the speaker illuminates red, the microphone is muted. Alternatively, if the ring turns blue, Alexa is actively listening. Despite the fact that Amazon didn’t appear to have much room to work with, it did increase the size of the Echo Dot’s speaker from 1.6 to 1.73 inches. The speakers are also said to have twice the bass of the previous version, though there are no additional specs or ways to verify that claim.
Of course, the Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation) is designed for more than just listening to music. It’s a vehicle for almost all of Alexa’s best skills, with the exception of those that require video. That means you can make voice calls to Alexa, get Amazon delivery updates, set alarms, get weather reports, play interactive games, and more. It supports everything from Alexa easter eggs to Alexa Guard, a security feature that notifies you when suspicious sounds are detected in your home.
You can only control a maximum of ten lights. To connect up to 50 Philips smart lights in your home, you must first purchase and install a Philips Hue Bridge. The Bridge connects to your home’s Wi-Fi network and allows you to control your home even when you’re not there. Set schedules, time your lights with sunset/sunrise, activate vacation mode, and create geofences to have your lights turn off when you leave the house using the Bridge.