The Amazon Echo Dot has been around for a while now. But if you’re still on the fence and asking yourself, “What would I actually do with this thing?” — and especially if you don’t have $90 to throw around for the Dot’s bigger, pricier sibling — let me help you.
I’ve been the proud owner of an Amazon Echo Dot for almost a year now. When I bought the thing, I was a skeptic. What the heck would I do with a tiny, ever-listening robot? (Plenty, I’d later learn.) But after listening to a colleague of mine talk, a lot, about how much he loved his Amazon Echo, I decided to take the plunge. While the flagship Echo itself was a bit steep, the Dot — a smaller device that you plug into a speaker you already own — seemed like a cheapish way to dip my toes. Months later, I’d say it was $50 well spent. If you’re Alexa-curious and own your own speaker, the Dot is the perfect way to see if a speaking robot assistant is for you. Here is, in no particular order, a list of things I do on the regular with my Echo Dot.
Use it as my own personal DJ.
Hooked up to my Spotify account, I can ask Alexa to play specific playlists, tracks, and artists. It’s great for moments when you really want to hear that one song, but the thought of getting up and walking over to your phone or computer or iPad is just too much to bear. The nice thing about a robot DJ, as opposed to a human one, is that it doesn’t get mad at you if you ask it to play that same guilty-pleasure Ed Sheeran song 452 times.
Set cooking timers.
Sure, I could do this with my phone. Or my microwave. Or I could just estimate. But while making my morning French-press coffee, it’s stupidly easy to just holler, “Alexa set a timer for four minutes,” and wait for the chirp of the timer to let me know when it’s time to plunge the pot.
Ask it incredibly stupid questions.
A veritable font of decently reliable knowledge. Save yourself the time it would take to type, “How tall is Cate Blanchett,” and just ask your Echo Dot for the answer. (She’s five-nine.)
Wake up with Alexa as your alarm clock.
If you’re like me, your cellphone also doubles as an alarm clock. But, if you’re also like me and fried your phone after getting stuck in a downpour in June, you recently found yourself without a way to wake up in the morning. Echo Dot to the rescue.
Check the weather so you don’t get stuck outside without an umbrella.
Spare yourself the daily Google and just ask Alexa what the temperature spread looks like for the day on the way to your closet to get dressed in the morning.
There’s also an ever-growing list of other things you can do — largely ordering stuff, from Ubers to pizzas — with your Echo Dot, but I’m a just-the-basics type of user, and for its price, the Echo Dot remains the cheapest way to get a surprisingly good robot into your house. Just think, if you’ve already bought one, you could use it to order another.
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