Amazon Echo Dot

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by Gnesen, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. Gnesen

    Gnesen Super Member

    Messages:
    1,331
  2. uofmtiger

    uofmtiger Super Member

    Messages:
    4,518
    Location:
    Memphis
    I like the idea, but would like it more if it had a digital output (which it appears to be missing). I also wonder how many people have a radio/stereo that they leave on all the time so that they can take advantage of this without flipping on their stereo every time?

    If you get it, I would love to see your review.
     
  3. Rex81

    Rex81 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    820
    Location:
    Michigan
    I've had an original Echo since it was first released (appx 1 year ago) and keep it in the kitchen. I always thought the only thing missing from it was an aux out. So I'm glad to see the Dot.

    We've really enjoyed having the Echo. My wife especially loves it. It's great in the kitchen because it keeps our shopping list up to date (Alexa, add milk to the shopping list), handles timer functions (Alexa, set a timer for 20 minutes), does kitchen math (Alexa, how many teaspoons in 3 tablespoons?), and provides background music (Alexa, play my Salsa Loca station on Pandora). Sound quality is just ok, but again, for background music it's fine.

    I was wondering about having a stereo on all the time as well. Although I suppose you could just plug it into your regular stereo, turn it on when you want to listen, and tell it what to play off of Spotify. More of a party trick than anything, though, I think. Usually I find I'd rather scroll through music on my phone than voice control everything.
     
    ScramMan2 likes this.
  4. uofmtiger

    uofmtiger Super Member

    Messages:
    4,518
    Location:
    Memphis
    I like voice control, but as you say, it is often easier to scroll through music when you don't know what you want to hear. That is the main benefit of using Siri with the Apple Music app. It gives you the best of both worlds.

    I think the Echo is a neat idea, especially for the kitchen, but it would be great if it was built into receivers/soundbars. If you could walk into the living room, tell it to turn on your receiver and play The Beatles, it would be pretty nice from a convenience standpoint. Of course, many receivers have Airplay, so if you connect to the receiver via Airplay on the phone and tell Siri to play The Beatles, it will (at least in my setup) automatically turn on the receiver and start playing The Beatles. The one extra step here is having an iPhone/Apple Watch/iPad in the mix rather than direct control over everything by voice.

    Eliminating the phone from the mix would be nice to have on occasion, although, I do like looking at the music app and seeing stuff to play, too. The two technologies could easily live side by side, though.
     
  5. sKiZo

    sKiZo Hates received: 8641 Subscriber

    I think I'll hold out for violin control ...

     
    Oozure likes this.
  6. chicks

    chicks Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    17,491
    Location:
    The Big Valley, CA
    Looks like the Echo has finally given Sonos some competition, unlike all the "Sonos killers", mostly forgotten, over the years. They'll be responding with their own version of voice control, possibly. Might make more sense to integrate with one of the established home automation systems. Will have to wait and see. They've helped Apple grow subscriptions to Apple Music, so maybe a partnership? Dunno.

    http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/10/11191978/sonos-Amazon-echo-alexa
     
  7. +48V

    +48V hi-fi or die

    Messages:
    2,482
    Location:
    Tega Cay
    You'd think with "no competition" Sonos would have no woe. Yet they obviously do.

    Large layoffs aside, hopefully their late breaking pivot will keep their great nose above water going forward.
     
  8. uofmtiger

    uofmtiger Super Member

    Messages:
    4,518
    Location:
    Memphis
    Definitely an interesting development. I am a huge fan of voice control, but as I mentioned above, I typically want to have a graphic interface available, too. For households with numerous users, the Echo seems to be much more useful than Siri which is more personalized to one person. That is why I think the Echo is ideal for busy areas like the kitchen.

    Personally, I think there is ton of competition in the streaming market, but each company has its own approach. I still consider them competitors, though. I don't see the Echo as being any more competition to Sonos than AirPlay and AirPlay speakers. They all just have a different approach to getting music from one place to another. They all have their plus and minuses depending on the features that you need. I think Casting is going to be very competitive if they ever get the tech into stand alone speakers.

    It is interesting that Sonos has had to lay people off. Many are speculating that they are looking to be bought out by one of the companies with deep pockets. Not sure if that is their plan or not, but breaking into the on-demand streaming service market is definitely a major undertaking and a very risky one at that.

    Apple doesn't typically partner with other companies if they can buy them to accomplish their goals. When Apple purchased Beats, Beats was working on a Sonos style speaker technology and Apple put it on the back burner. It makes me wonder if Apple is interested in this market at all. They have AirPlay, but other than making it work with photos and video, they haven't changed it much in years.

    If I was a Sonos owner I would not be thrilled with this development.
     
  9. Jeffery

    Jeffery High Powered Mutant Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,133
    Location:
    Timbuktu, Mali
    I look for Sonos to either go out of business or get bought by Apple - anything to keep me from using the service.

    Chalk up another failure on my list of hopefuls.
     
  10. chicks

    chicks Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    17,491
    Location:
    The Big Valley, CA
    This Times article has Alexa way ahead of Siri or Google Now, calling the Echo maybe "the next big thing". I accidently activate Siri and Google Now on occasion, but just find them annoying, frankly, since I have the tablet in hand, and would much rather just type.

    Alexa can hear you from anywhere in the room, no matter what you're doing. Could be much more useful. I'd be tempted if it gets the room tuning ability of a Sonos, so it could sound half as good as the Play:1 for music in the kitchen. Will be following developments by both companies.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/10/t...n-brims-with-groundbreaking-promise.html?_r=1
     
  11. uofmtiger

    uofmtiger Super Member

    Messages:
    4,518
    Location:
    Memphis
    I read the article and I didn't see a compelling argument that made their case other than it can be operated from farther distances where "hey Siri" and Google Now need closer proximity.

    There is a big difference between using a tablet vs using an iPhone or especially an Apple Watch ( or the Android equivalent). Since I now own an Apple Watch, the thing is on my wrist wherever I am at all times ( with the exception of when it is being charged while I sleep), so I am always in close proximity. Before I had the watch, I was always in close proximity to the phone because I wanted it nearby in case I got a call. As a result, being able to yell across the room to activate a speaker isn't much of a benefit when I can speak right into a device that is always on me. Also, unless you plan to carry that Echo with you everywhere, it has huge disadvantages compared to Android or iOS smartphones. In other words, I can use Siri everywhere because I have my phone with me everywhere.

    I use Siri several times a day. It turns on lights around the house ( via iDevices), I use it to tell my phone to play music/audio I want to hear..in the car, at work, and at home from any room in the house ( even outdoors.. since I grill out a lot). I also use Siri for reminders, alarms, launching apps, dictating a note, telling it to call someone, asking for the current temperature, etc. The advantage is that I don't need to be in screaming distance of a plugged in device. I can literally be anywhere, which is a huge advantage to Siri and Google Now.

    As I mentioned above, the main benefit to the Echo is that anyone in the house can use it and the Echo can have its own speaker ( which is better than speakers on smartphones). However, the downside is that you are using a speaker independent of you smartphone, so playing podcasts and seamlessly going from home to car to work isn't as seamless ( if it is possible at all).

    I think these devices and technologies can work side by side, but saying "personal assistant" technology that is tied to a wall power plug is better than a technology that travels with you everywhere is ridiculous. While I see some advantages to the Echo (which I have mentioned above), there is so much overlap with Siri that I don't currently see a compelling reason to buy one.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016
  12. chicks

    chicks Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    17,491
    Location:
    The Big Valley, CA
    Agree, I don't see a compelling reason right now to buy an Echo; a year from now, who knows?
     
  13. uofmtiger

    uofmtiger Super Member

    Messages:
    4,518
    Location:
    Memphis
    True, I am not ruling it out forever, either. I really think the technologies can work side by side and you can just use the one that is more convenient at any given time.

    One thing I forgot to mention is that the Echo works with some third party apps that Siri doesn't, so if you wanted voice access to those apps and you were in the vicinity of the Echo, it would be the way to go. Definitely something I will keep my eye on. If it worked with AirPlay, I would probably already own a couple of them. Right now, I use Apple Music and Overcast apps for most of my kitchen/bath audio needs and the Echo isn't compatible with either of them.
     
  14. chicks

    chicks Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    17,491
    Location:
    The Big Valley, CA
    Those Alec Badwin commercials are pretty funny. ;)
     
    uofmtiger likes this.
  15. uofmtiger

    uofmtiger Super Member

    Messages:
    4,518
    Location:
    Memphis
    I decided to go ahead ( told you I wasn't going to rule it out forever :p)and order a Dot. It occurred to me that the AirPlay speaker I have in the kitchen is always on and has an aux input, so it can be used with the Dot without having to get rid of AirPlay and without needing to turn it on first. It is more out of geeky curiosity than necessity, but it could come in handy in that environment..especially for the lady of the house that isn't into tech. The downside is that it comes out at the end of the month, but my expected delivery date is in July. Also, you can't just order it from the site like normal Amazon products, but luckily I found a backdoor.
     
  16. gcgst

    gcgst Active Member

    Messages:
    226
    As for digital output, it has Bluetooth. Hmmm. The Raspberry Pi 3 has built in Bluetooth. How about Dot -> Pi -> USB DAC -> stereo. As for leaving your stereo on, you can get a TP-Link HS100 and have the Dot turn on the stereo too. I just got my Pi 3. I think I'll give this setup a try.
     
  17. uofmtiger

    uofmtiger Super Member

    Messages:
    4,518
    Location:
    Memphis
    Sounds interesting, but I would be surprised if Bluetooth gave you better quality than just using the analog outputs on the Dot. However, we won't know until someone tries it, so I will be interested in what you think about it when you get it setup. I don't think the TP-Link would work with my receivers since I believe when they are unplugged and plugged back in, you still have to manually start them. Also, I would worry about cutting power to them rather than turning them off. I could see it working for radios with aux inputs, though. I have a couple Tivoli Pal radios that would be ideal for that type of setup.

    If it can send out audio via Bluetooth and/or analog outputs, then maybe it could be used in two setups? Get a Bluetooth receiver for one room and a direct connection in another? Of course, the rooms would have to be side by side so Alexa could hear you from either room.

    For my specific needs, I think the placement in the kitchen, at least to try it out, will offer the most bang for the buck. For the kitchen, it will be nice for audio (iTunes/Pandora/Prime), but I also anticipate using it for adding stuff to the grocery list, turning on a Wemo switch (light) in the living room, and hopefully some other things I am not currently anticipating.
     
  18. BillyBatts

    BillyBatts ALOHA!

    I have also had an Echo since the Beta. I like it well enough. In the morning, it wakes me up. It then ask, "Alexa, what's new?" for my FLASH NEWS BRIEFING". That's pretty cool. But for music listening, unless I'm in bed and dozing off, I prefer other methods. While the onboard speaker is not horrible for a simple device, most of us have too much invested in our systems to let them sit idle and listen to a small streaming device/speaker.

    I must have sent 3 or 4 emails to Amazon at the onset of Echo requesting an AUX OUT Echo port. I like the Amazon Echo Web Portal, and I can see sitting in the easy chair and directing Amazon DOT via the Web Portal to play this or that. 256 AAC via a direct out would not be bad, ASSUMING the onboard DAC is decent. That's my rub. I would really want an Optical Out. Perhaps that's coming next. I may pass for a while. I am enjoying my digital files the way I am delivering them now, and don't want to rush into a DOT this year. Perhaps next year they will improve it or add an optical out, or an HD out with a very good and touted chipset for the DAC. Perhaps the DAC Chipset in DOT now is fantastic. I don't know. They tend to listen to their audience and move forward quickly with enhancements. I wonder if the Bluetooth is AptX? I'll have to read the specs.

    One thought I have for buying a DOT now, I do have three Kloss Model 88 Stereo Table Radios in a few rooms, like the dining room/kitchen in my Condo or the Bedroom in my mainland home. I can see DOT working with these Bose-Like Table Radios very well. I don't mind leaving a Kloss 88 on all the time, and having DOT do the work for feeding it audio streams. That may be just the ticket.
     
    uofmtiger likes this.
  19. uofmtiger

    uofmtiger Super Member

    Messages:
    4,518
    Location:
    Memphis
    I use an AirPlay Speaker in the kitchen ( pic in UofMTiger's Den thread ) so it is always on and sounds good enough for when I am prepping food. I had a better system in there at one point and the speakers took too much counter space. Seems like a perfect way to keep AirPlay abilities while also being able to use Alexa.

    I am not sure I would use it much in my main system even if it had a digital output, but if it works with Bluetooth, I may hook a Bluetooth receiver ( I actually have one in a drawer around here somewhere) to one of the Tivolis or maybe my Marantz since it is just on the other side of the wall where I plan to put the Dot. I wouldn't leave the Marantz on all the time, but I would use it on occasion just for fun.
     
  20. chicks

    chicks Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    17,491
    Location:
    The Big Valley, CA
    Interesting "Talk to a Sonos" app, appears to use Google voice recognition. Installed the free version this morning, which found all my Sonos devices, playlists and favorites. Even recognized the stereo-paired Play:1s in the office, unusual for a UPnP service, which will normally find two individual speakers.

    Will play with it this evening. Has an always-listening mode for docked phones/tablets; I have a docked Nexus 7 in the LR that's a dedicated Sonos remote, should be interesting.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.talk.control.upnp&hl=en
     

Share This Page