Amazon took another step towards making its Alexa assistant ubiquitous Wednesday: The company slashed the price of its Echo Dot smart speaker from $90 to $50, and also opened up sales of the device to all consumers. The Echo Dot also received an update to improve its listening capabilities, and Amazon started to sell a white version of the device as well.
Amazon’s Echo Dot is in many ways the little sibling of the more full-blown Echo. Like the Echo, it incorporates a multitude of microphones capable of listening to voice commands from across the room. And just like its bigger sibling, the Echo also offers a direct connection to Amazon’s Alexa assistant, which can be asked to play short news programs, set reminders or read the weather report, among other functionality. Oh, and you can also order items available for sale on Amazon directly from your Echo or Echo Dot.
But unlike the original Echo, the Dot doesn’t actually incorporate a full-blown speaker that one would want to use for music listening. It’s internal loudspeaker has instead been compared to the speaker of a cell phone — good enough to wake you up as an alarm clock, but not to fill your house with music. The Echo Dot can instead connect via line-out or Bluetooth to existing speaker systems.
Amazon had first introduced the Echo Dot in March for $90. Back then, the company also restricted sales to consumers who already owned a full-blown Echo. Consumers even had to order the device with their voice from their Echo, and couldn’t simply select it on Amazon’s website.
The company also added some more powerful chips for voice recognition to the device, and Amazon improved its ability to play nice with other Alexa devices in the same household. That’s because the e-commerce giant would like consumers to put an Echo Dot in every room of their house.
One feature still amiss from Amazon’s smart speakers is multi-room audio. However, the company teamed up with Sonos last month to eventually have Sonos hardware listen to voice commands given to an Echo, would could help to sell even more Echo Dots.