The Amazon Echo Dot is easily the most popular and easiest way to enjoy the Alexa ecosystem.
Originally conceived as an alternative to the flagship Echo, the smaller version offers similar Alexa interaction, smart home control, and access to hundreds of thousands of Alexa skills. And thanks to its very low price, it’s possible to add speakers to multiple rooms in your home without breaking the bank.
Starting with the third-generation Echo Dot, Amazon introduced an upgraded version with one key advantage: a clock. This made it perfect for adding to a nightstand or anywhere else you need to watch the time.
The fifth generation model has the same design, but with an improved clock display and other cool new features. We’ll take a closer look and see if the timing is right for the Echo Dot with the clock.
A clear display with more information
One of the key features of the new model is an improved LED display. Instead of only being able to display the time like the previous two models, you can now see additional information such as song titles, weather conditions, the number of Alexa notifications available, and more.
Compared to my 4th generation Echo Dot with Clock, the new model’s display is brighter and easier to read, even from across the room. I was also able to see the time clearly in a bright room and from an angle.
You can easily change the brightness of the watch using the Alexa app, and there’s an option for the display to automatically adjust its brightness based on ambient light. This is a great option if you’re using the speaker as a bedside clock. If you want, you can also turn off the display completely.
In the morning, a new accelerometer at the top of the speaker allows you to snooze the alarm with just a tap. You can also pause a song, end a call or stop a timer. This is another easy way for quick control without calling Alexa.
Being able to see other data on the display is a nice touch, even though you can ask Alexa to listen for the same information — but it adds even more ways to use the upgraded model’s best feature.
Somewhat better music quality
Amazon promises better sound quality from the new Echo Dot with Clock thanks to its 1.73-inch front-firing speaker. This is an upgrade from the 1.6-inch speaker in the fourth generation.
The sound quality has indeed improved, but not substantially. I played a wide variety of music and podcasts on both the 4th and 5th generation speakers. Better bass quality came through in some songs, but I had a hard time understanding the Amazon’s better vocals.
If sound quality is your top concern for music playback in a smart speaker, you’d be better off spending more to buy the larger Amazon Echo. Alternatively, if you’re looking for much better sound in the same smaller size, Apple’s HomePod mini still rules the roost, as long as you’re an Apple user and don’t mind switching smart home ecosystems. No objection.
One major aspect to note with the new Echo Dot with Clock is that Amazon has removed the 3.5mm line out jack that was available on the previous version. With this, users were able to connect the smaller speaker to a larger option like Sonos.
This is a disappointing change. But I suspect it won’t bother most Echo Dot with Clock buyers, as the tiny smart speaker is known more for all its smart home prowess than music playback quality.
Making smart home even better
On the smart home front, the new Echo Dot with Clock offers two handy new features. Combined with the motion sensor that came with the previous generation, the fifth-generation model is much more than a smart speaker and can be used as a large part of an Alexa smart home.
First, a built-in sensor can monitor the temperature inside your home. You can access that information as part of the Easy Alexa Routines feature in the Alexa app for iOS or Android. For example, you can create a routine to automatically turn on the fan once a certain temperature is reached.
Another big plus is that the speaker now has Eero Wi-Fi technology built-in. With it, you can use the Echo Dot with the Clock as part of a larger Eero network. As long as you have an Eero router running in your home, you can use the Echo Dot as a Wi-Fi extender.
Amazon says the speaker will extend Wi-Fi coverage to up to 1,000 square feet in your home, with supported speeds of up to 100 Mbps.
I’m running an Eero network at my home, but I already have two Eero devices in my relatively small, one-story home, with no dead spots or slow areas. It’s important to note that using more routers or extenders than necessary in a home can actually result in slower wireless network speeds.