Alexa, write me a blog post

I have had an Amazon Dot for around six months now, which I think is enough time to jot down a few thoughts on how it’s performing.

I went for the Dot, rather than the Echo, because I personally thought that the extra cost of the Echo was not worth it, purely for a built in speaker. I’m sure it’s handy if you’re short on plug sockets or space, but I’ve had the Dot plugged into some cheap speakers and had no issues with the setup at all.

First, let me be clear that the Echo has not revolutionised my life. There is nothing that it does, that I could not have done through other means. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s useless and I do appreciate some of its functions.

Timers – One of Alexa’s most trivial functions, but it’s the one I use most. Our Dot is in the kitchen and it is very convenient to be able to just say, “Alexa, set a timer for ten minutes.”

Music – I have Amazon Prime, so Alexa can tap into my music library pretty easily. Fundamentally, it’s no better than just plugging my iPhone in, with the Amazon Music app, but the voice controls are convenient.

Shopping list – Again trivial, but saying, “Alexa, add baking powder to my shopping list,” is fairly convenient when baking.

Weather – Alexa is not bad with her weather predictions and saves finding my phone, just to see what the day will be like.

These are the only functions that I use with any regularity, but I’d argue that it was just about worth the price for these various conveniences. I know that it also integrates with certain smart home devices and such like – someone who could make use of those functions might get even more from it.

It should be noted that the Dot is not without its faults. Despite the fancy sounding microphone array, it does occasionally fail to pick up your commands. My wife has more trouble than me with this, which I think is down to our commands styles; she calls to it like a child (“Alexa?”), while I tend to shout at it like a dog (“Alexa!”)
The voice recognition is pretty decent most of the time; it has most trouble with music, when requesting unusual artist names and such like, which is perhaps to be expected.

Overall, I’m pretty happy that I got it – it’s not ludicrously expensive and it’s a fun little gadget. Right now, as already stated, it is not doing anything revolutionary. However, I suspect that this could be the first step towards a futuristic automated home and I, for one, would like to ease into our new home-controlling overlords.

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