Amazon Echo Dot with Clock review

The Echo Dot is Amazon’s most popular smart speaker, and the version with a clock is a smart bedside buy.

Recommended
Budget
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For some years now, the Echo Dot was Amazon’s smallest and cheapest smart speaker, although the new 2023 Echo Pop has stolen its smallest-speaker crown.  

Like many of us, the Echo Dot has got a little larger as it’s got older. What began as a flat hockey puck-shaped device has grown into a sphere made of a plastic base and a fabric-covered dome.  

There are three different Echo Dots. This version includes an integrated LED display, which the otherwise identical standard model doesn’t. There’s also a kids’ version. 

Amazon Echo Dot Speakers shot in the test centre sound roomCredit: Saga Exceptional

The LED display is worth having, but the downside of the clock model is that you have fewer colour options: a pale blue and an off-white. The standard Dot gets the same white but its other colour options are a deep blue and a charcoal grey.  

Like all other Echo devices, this is a smart speaker: it has Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant, which can answer questions, control compatible smart home devices, tell you the weather forecast, play music and more.

Recommended

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock

Budget

The Echo Dot is a good Alexa device and sounds great with spoken content, such as audiobooks and radio, although music isn’t very punchy. The integrated LED display makes this a better buy than the Echo Pop.

Design

Usability

Audio performance

Value


Who’s this for?

The Echo Dot is a good choice for radio, podcast and audiobook listeners, and for anyone who wants a low-cost smart home controller.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Alexa is brilliant
  • Very clear for spoken audio
  • LED display is fun
  • Doesn’t sound as good as bigger models
  • Limited colour choices
  • Don’t pay the full RRP

Expect to pay

RRP: £64.99 The RRP is £64.99 (£54.99 without the built-in clock) but the Echo Dot with Clock is almost always discounted during Amazon sales events. During Prime Day 2023 it was £32.

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock Review method

How we test

We’ve had Amazon Echos in our home since the very first generation almost 10 years ago, and Alexa is part of the family. That means we were able to see how this particular Echo compared, not just to its current siblings but to previous models, too. 

We used the Echo Dot as our main smart speaker. That means we used it to play our music and audiobooks, to control our smart lights and smart thermostat, and to keep the kids amused or informed.  

Most of our Echo Dot usage was via voice commands, as that’s what the device is primarily intended for, but we did use the Alexa app to include the Echo in multi-room music playback and to configure the smart speaker. 

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock Set-up

Simple setup, cluttered app

All of Amazon’s Echos are mains powered and come with a power adapter in the box.

Set-up is simple: install the Alexa app on your phone, plug in the Echo Dot and wait for it to glow orange. That takes about a minute, and from there the app walks you through the handful of steps required to connect the Echo to your wireless network.

You can also stream music from your phone to the Echo over Bluetooth, but for the full range of Alexa features, the Echo needs to be on Wi-Fi. 

Amazon’s app is a little cluttered but it’s easy enough to use, and one of the key features is that you can organise your Echo device(s) by room – so you can group multiple Echo devices in your living room or assign them to the bedroom.

This is useful if you have multiple Echos or smart home devices as you can control them on a room-by-room basis as well as individually. 

Amazon Echo Dot Speaker shot in the test centre sound roomCredit: Saga Exceptional

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock Design

A spherical speaker that’s just okay

The Echo Dot is a small sphere with a flat base, roughly the size of a large orange or small grapefruit. It looks quite plasticky in its pale colours, and while it’s not horrible by any means, it’s not the prettiest smart speaker we’ve ever reviewed.  

There is an integrated white LED display in the centre front of the sphere. In addition to showing the time in clock mode, it can scroll the titles of songs and show other information. The Echo Dot is also available without this LED display – and it will cost you less.

Around the base you’ll see the light bar, which changes colour: yellow for Amazon notifications, orange for set-up mode and so on. It also acts as a visual indicator when you’re changing the volume of the speaker. 

There are just four buttons on top: volume up and down, an action button to get Alexa’s attention and a mute button that turns off the Echo Dot’s microphone for privacy. The Dot can also recognise taps, so you can tap it to snooze your alarm or to skip the song that’s currently playing

Amazon Echo Dot Speaker shot in the test centre sound roomCredit: Saga Exceptional

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock Usability

Excellent voice recognition

Like the rest of the Echo family, the Echo Dot has Alexa. That’s Amazon’s voice-based digital assistant, which you can command to do things or just ask questions.

Alexa is better at that than rivals such as Siri, so if you have young, question-asking relatives around, Alexa can keep them informed or help them with their homework. 

Using Alexa is as simple as saying “Alexa” (you can change the command word to “computer”, “echo” or “Amazon” if you prefer) and then telling it what you want to do: “play music by REM”; “set a timer for 10 minutes”, “wake me up at 7.30am” and so on.

Once connected, you can also control smart home devices the same way: “Alexa, I’m home!” can be set to turn on your smart light bulbs, for example.

The microphones here work very well, picking up our voice even when we’re playing music quite loud, and Alexa’s voice recognition is first class. Some rival assistants struggle with our accents (our home features a mix of Scots and Irish voices) but not here. We’ve found Alexa’s voice recognition to be consistently faster and more accurate than Apple’s Siri. 

Amazon deserves credit for its accessibility features, which include adaptive listening, which makes Alexa more patient with speech – Preferred Speaking Rate, Kindle Read Aloud and many other features for people with accessibility needs around vision, hearing, mobility and speech.

Amazon Echo Dot Speaker shot in the test centre sound roomCredit: Saga Exceptional

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock Audio performance

Great for low-volume music

The Echo Dot is best suited to speech and to low-volume music: it’s a bedside or bookshelf speaker rather than a sound system.  

This Dot sounds better than the previous generation, with a slightly larger speaker (1.73 inches compared to the 1.6 of the previous model) delivering noticeably clearer mid-range and a little more low-end thump.

And, as before, you can pair two Echos together for a stereo performance. However, there’s still only a single speaker inside the Dot, and that means it sounds noticeably thinner than the larger Echo devices in the range.

It’s fine for background music, but if you’re serious about sound, you’re going to want a larger speaker: this is more like a single-speaker FM or DAB radio than a hi-fi speaker. 

Spoken-word audio is delivered crisply and cleanly, and surprisingly loudly, enabling you to hear the dulcet tones of your favourite DJ or narrator across even the largest rooms. There’s also good multi-room support, so if you have more than one Echo, you can get Alexa to play music on some or all of them at once.  

For music, the Echo Dot has the same issue as its new Echo Pop sibling: one small speaker simply can’t move enough air to give you goosebumps when it’s playing music. It’s best suited to acoustic and electronic pop – think Taylor Swift or Eighties pop hits – where low-end thump isn’t too important.

In more boisterous genres it’s less successful, for example, AC/DC’s Back In Black sounds wonderful until the full band kicks in and you can’t really hear the bass guitar. Like many such speakers, the sound quality improves significantly when you pair it with a second speaker for stereo sound, but you’re still missing a lot of low end. 

Amazon Echo Dot Speaker shot in the test centre sound roomCredit: Saga Exceptional

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock Extras

Smart home skills

You don’t have as many Alexa voices to choose from as you get with some rivals, but you can change their gender and accent to find the one that’s easiest on your ears: our Alexa is currently an Australian woman. But one thing Alexa has that rivals don’t is Alexa skills 

Alexa skills are little downloadable add-ons that give Alexa new powers – so, for example, you can download a BBC Sounds skill via the Alexa app that enables you to play recorded shows from BBC Sounds, or a recipe skill that you can use to get instant recipe suggestions.

The range of skills is huge: smart home connections for all the big brands, skills for pretty much every radio station imaginable and even entertainment apps – although you’ll find apps such as quiz apps tend to keep most of their content for paid subscribers. 

The novelty of the entertainment apps wears off quickly, but there’s a good selection of genuinely useful things here to connect your Alexa to everything from Spotify to Hue Smart Bulbs and Hive Smart Thermostats. 

There’s a useful intercom feature that you can use to speak to other family members in different rooms, and you can use your Echo to call other Echo users. The call quality is good, and the microphone picks up voices very well. 

Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker on a sideboard in a roomCredit: Saga Exceptional

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock Value

Decent value, but not the best bang for your buck

The Echo Dot is very good at what it does, and the LED display on this ‘with clock’ model is worth having – especially if you’re looking for a bedside speaker. But if audio performance is your priority, you may prefer a dedicated music speaker or the larger Amazon Echo. 

At its full non-discounted price, the Echo Dot with clock is £10 more than the standard Echo, coming in at £65.

That’s a fair price, but it’s more than the Google Nest Mini, Google’s rival smart home device. It’s cheaper than the Google Nest Audio smart speaker, which is £25 more expensive, and it’s also considerably cheaper than the larger Amazon Echo, which has an RRP of £109. 

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock Competition

Also consider…

Google Nest Mini

Smart speaker with man cutting vegetables in the backgroundCredit: Shutterstock/David9182
The Google Nest Mini is slightly cheaper than the Echo Dot

Google’s Nest family is similar to Amazon’s Alexa devices, but the assistant here is Google Assistant. It’s cheaper than the non-discounted Echo Dot – it’s £49 – and if you like Google’s way of doing things and use a lot of Google services, such as Google Calendar, then you’ll like this a lot.

We wouldn’t recommend it as a music device, as it’s far too small to deliver a powerful performance, but as a tiny smart home controller it does the job.

Just make sure it supports the things you want to control: Google’s support isn’t as wide as Amazon’s Alexa skills, but the big hitters such as Apple Music and Spotify are covered, along with key smart home brands, and you can stream audio from unsupported devices over Bluetooth. 

Read our Google Nest Mini review

Featured product

Google Nest Mini

RRP: £49

Google Nest Mini

Amazon Echo (4th generation) 

Amazon Echo 2qb Speaker shot in the test centre sound roomCredit: Saga Exceptional
The full-size Amazon Echo provides room-filling sound

If you’re a music fan, this is the Echo we’d recommend. It’s a lot larger than the Echo Dot – like a galia melon with a bit sliced off the bottom – but that extra size means Amazon has managed to fit three speakers: two drivers for the mid-range and treble, and a third for low frequencies.

Having tested the Echo and Echo Dot side by side, the difference really is dramatic. The sound of the larger device isn’t just fuller, more detailed and more punchy, it’s wider and more atmospheric, too.

The larger Echo does cost a lot more – the RRP is £109 – but, as ever with Amazon, expect to see big discounts whenever it is having a big sales event or a flash sale on its own-brand devices. 

Featured product

Amazon Echo (4th generation)

RRP: £109.99

Amazon Echo (4th generation)

Apple HomePod Mini

HomePod MiniCredit: Apple
Apple’s HomePod Mini is a premium, pint-sized smart speaker

There’s no doubt that Apple’s smallest smart speaker sounds better than the Echo Dot; it’s our preferred bedroom and kitchen speaker because sonically it punches way above its size.

But it’s also fair to say that Amazon’s Alexa is a much better smart speaker assistant than Apple’s Siri, which has fallen quite far behind Alexa in terms of accuracy, ability and speed.

Apple’s speakers are a good choice provided you are already all-in on Apple – you can’t even set them up if you don’t have access to an iPhone or iPad – but if you’re not already sold on Apple’s smart home and entertainment products, they’re among the most expensive and least flexible options. 

Read our Apple HomePod Mini review

Featured product

Apple HomePod Mini

RRP: £99

Apple HomePod Mini

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock Final verdict

A capable smart speaker, with its limits

There’s a lot to like about the Echo Dot: it’s easy to use, works really well and is able to control a huge range of smart home devices. Provided you’re not the kind of music listener who likes to play everything louder than everything else, it’s very capable and particularly well-suited to spoken audio.

And the built-in LED display is definitely worth the extra £10: the scrolling display of song titles never fails to make us smile. It’s such a simple, yet effective feature.

As with other Echo devices, we’d strongly recommend waiting for a sale before buying one. Amazon pushes its own devices very hard during sales events, and the discounts are significant: typically around 40% or more.

For example, during Prime Day 2023, which happened in early July, the price of this specific Echo was cut from the usual £65 to just £32. That’s 55% off. And the non-clock Dot was cut from £55 to £21. 

Rather than buy a single Dot at full price, we’d wait for the next sale and buy a pair – one with clock and one without. That would give you two speakers, delivering room-filling stereo audio for £10 less than a single full-price Dot with clock. 

Recommended

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock

Budget

The Echo Dot is a good Alexa device and sounds great with spoken content, such as audiobooks and radio, although music isn’t very punchy. The integrated LED display makes this a better buy than the Echo Pop.

Design

The Echo Dot is a slightly smaller copy of the Echo. The integrated display is clear and useful.

Usability

As with all Echo devices, the Echo Dot is simple to set up and use. Amazon provides a good selection of accessibility options for people with vision, hearing or mobility issues.

Audio performance

It’s better than the previous model, but the Echo Dot still only has one speaker, compared to the Echo’s three. It’s best suited to podcasts, radio and audiobooks.

Value

We know the rules with Echo devices now: never pay the full retail price. Amazon’s last sales event in July 2023 dropped the price to £32.


Who’s this for?

The Echo Dot is a good choice for radio, podcast and audiobook listeners, and for anyone who wants a low-cost smart home controller.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Alexa is brilliant
  • Very clear for spoken audio
  • LED display is fun
  • Doesn’t sound as good as bigger models
  • Limited colour choices
  • Don’t pay the full RRP

Expect to pay

RRP: £64.99 The RRP is £64.99 (£54.99 without the built-in clock) but the Echo Dot with Clock is almost always discounted during Amazon sales events. During Prime Day 2023 it was £32.

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock Specs

Release year 2022
Dimensions 100 x 100 x 89 mm
Weight 349g
Power Mains only (power supply included)
Internal speakers 1.73-inch front-firing speaker
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz)
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5 with A2DP
Smart Home support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy Mesh, Matter
Carrie Marshall

Written by Carrie Marshall she/her

Published:

Writer, broadcaster and musician Carrie Marshall has been a technology journalist for 24 years. Her CV is a who’s-who of magazines, websites and newspapers ranging from T3, Techradar and Woman & Home to the Sunday Post and People’s Friend, and she has been providing no-nonsense technology help and buying advice to BBC Radio Scotland listeners since the early 2000s.

Carrie has written and co-written nearly twenty books as well as a BBC radio documentary series, and her memoir Carrie Kills A Man is on sale now.

Carrie is particularly interested in how technology can make our lives easier, especially if that gives her an excuse to buy yet another kitchen gadget.

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