Smart Home

Amazon just upgraded the popular Echo Dot—is it worth buying?

The Echo Dot 3 has an optional clock display

Third-generation Echo Dot with Clock Credit: Amazon

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If you’re considering getting or giving a smart speaker in the near future, the Echo Dot is a great place to start. It doesn’t take up much real estate on the counter, it’s relatively easy on the wallet, and it comes loaded with Alexa and her many, many capabilities. But now that there is a new generation of Echo Dots available, should you spring for the latest and greatest?

Let’s look at the new Dot, what makes it different, and whether it’s worth the extra cash.

The Dot's new display is surprisingly useful

Echo Dot 3 display elements
Credit: Amazon

The display on the third-generation Echo Dot with Clock can also display timers and weather.

Perhaps the most noteworthy new feature of the third-generation Echo is the addition of a numerical display that peeks through the mesh-like fabric covering. It’s generally referenced as a clock, but it can display other numbers as well.

For example, when you ask Alexa about the weather, the digital clock display is replaced with the current temperature. Nothing mind-blowing compared to full-fledged smart displays, but the clock alone makes the new Dot far more practical to have around the house than it was in previous, clock-less, generations.

The new Dot is louder

No one looking for premium sound should buy an Echo Dot (you’re better off with a Sonos One or HomePod if that’s the case). However, this new Dot does represent a considerable improvement over the first and second iterations. It has a louder speaker, and with two Dots you can even create a stereo pair. An increase in volume does not equate to improved quality, but you can only expect so much from such a small speaker.

The new Dot is the perfect alarm clock

The digital clock option makes the new Dot a perfect bedside companion, and it will even allow users to snooze alarms by tapping the top as if it had an old-fashioned snooze button. It’s a small thing, but it opens up the Dot to be used in a way most of us would be comfortable trying. We spend a lot of time trying to speak in a way that our smart speakers will understand us, and it’s encouraging to see Amazon cater the smart stuff to the humans who will use it.

The Dot comes in more colors

Plum Echo Dot 3
Credit: Amazon

The new Echo Dot comes in Heather Grey, Charcoal Grey, Sandstone, and Plum (pictured).

For many years, black and white have been our only options when it came to color, but the third-generation Dot offers us more variety. Now can we better match surrounding décor with Sandstone (light gray), Heather Gray, Charcoal, and Plum. The Plum in particular is attractive, as it’s a pop of color and a complete departure from the Echo color scheme up to this point. It does look a little awkward against the blue light ring on the top of the speaker, and the light color isn’t something we can customize to match the speaker color—at least not yet.

How much is the new Dot?

You can get the new Dot without the clock for $49.99 or with the clock for $10 more. We’ve watched the previous generations drop drastically in price at various times like Prime Day and Black Friday, so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get a hefty discount at the right moment.

In fact, at the time this article was published, the new Echo was on sale for $29.99.

The new Echo Dot and privacy

Privacy might seem like a thing of the past, as everywhere you go, there's some computer watching or listening. But in your own home, you can do a few things to protect yourself, even from naturally invasive smart home devices.

You can stop your Dot from listening for (and possibly mishearing) your wake word by turning off your mic via the mute button on the top of the device. Or, turn on audible alerts within Settings in the Alexa app to know when your Echo is listening beyond just the indicator light.

You can opt out of having your voice recordings included in the review process.

Bloomberg recently reported that Amazon employs workers to manually review voice recordings. You can opt out of having your voice recordings included in the review process by going to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Your Alexa Data, then toggling off the setting that says Use Voice Recordings to Improve Amazon Services. In these privacy settings, you can also delete voice recordings, which are accessible to anyone you share the app with. You can even set up auto deletion every three or 18 months.

Get the third-generation Amazon Echo Dot on Amazon for $49.99

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.