The Echo and The Dot

A couple of years ago, I replaced my Sony mini-hifi as it was definitely suffering. I’d bought it in 1992, so in dog years it had had a good run. In modern electronic terms it had had a bloody good run too. Bluetooth speakers were all the rage, but I went for a very nice Denon with a USB slot at the front so it could read my iPod.

It was rarely used, and is now photographed, waiting to hit eBay when I can save up enough to post and properly package it (so if you want to make me an offer…).

Anyway: Amazon knocked £20 off the price of the new Echo, so I bought one of those.

The sound is quite good (bear in mind I’m 50 and my hearing range has always been a bit suspect). I’m listening to The Chart Show: Rock The Nation as I write. Don’t judge before looking at your own vinyl and CD collections, okay?

Trouble is, the sound is just that bit too good if I want to listen to music while nodding off to sleep (which I have been doing, on and off, ever since before even The Chart Show: Rock The Nation came out). Too much bass, and there’s no equaliser function, that I can see.

So, since Amazon had also knocked £15 off the price of the Dot, I bought one for the bedroom. Guess what? Not enough bass! Can’t win here.

Now, if I was planning the Echo 3, I’d make it a modular range. Detach the whole Alexa bit and sell it separately, you chose the speaker size you want from the rest of the range to pair with it. Still, I’m sure Jeff Bezos knows what he’s doing…

“Alexa, what’s the time?”

Setting up Echo and Dot is a right faff though.

Install the Alexa app on my iPod, iPhone and iPad. Run through the installation process on each – can’t set it up just the once and then let all my devices discover it via my Amazon account. Do the same for the laptop. Then do the same with the Dot. Sometimes the Bluetooth pairing works via the app; sometimes you have to tell you device that the Echo/Dot exists and do it that way.

But once you get over that it simple enough to use. Only (minor) issue for me is that the Aux In socket on the back is actually an Aux Out, so I can’t connect my TV/TiVo/Bluray to it without one of those amazing Chinese Bluetoooth-anything adaptors you can buy. On Amazon. Still, I’m sure Jeff Bezos knows what he’s doing…

And, actually, I have a use for Alexa. Not being a morning person, but liking my time under the shower in the morning (indeed, at any time) it’s quite handy to be able to put my head round the bathroom door and ask Alexa what the time is. And then swear when I realise just how late it is.

Asking Alexa for a knock-knock joke is a bit weird though, as she does both parts. Why not get you to join in?

And we’ve only fallen out once, when the Echo asked me what music I’d like to play. I’d only turned the laptop on to send an urgent email that wasn’t even my responsibility to do (but you can’t get the volunteers these days), and I rather angrily said “I don’t want to play any bloody music Alexa, STFU.”

She got her own back, turning up the volume when I wasn’t looking… sorry, neighbours.

Next step is to see how much home automation I can introduce into the flat. At first glance, not much – but I am nothing if not creative.

I still can’t used to talking out loud to her though. It. Not her.

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