The new Amazon Echo Dot 4th Generation comes with a new design with some big changes in how it projects sound, but different doesn’t always mean better, so we’re going to check out how it sounds and if it is worth spending extra on.
The unboxing experience is pretty minimal, and you get the speaker itself, a quick start guide, some important information, and finally the power adapter.
Setting it up can be easily done with the Alexa app installed on your phone,
and you can also order this already linked to your Amazon account so you would not need to do this.
So there isn’t a lot to say about the spherical design of the new Echo dot, it is just shaped like a ball that is about the size of an Apple.
That being said, I do like how they have executed this, because the angular fabric lining on it does look very sleek,
and the new placement of the light ring at bottom also gives it a more mature look without compromising on functionality.
On top, you still have the same 4 buttons as before, but in a smaller area. The volume up and down button are of course there, and you also have a button that wakes Alexa up without you needing to say its name,
and then there’s the microphone mute button for privacy, so you don’t have to share your intimate moments with Amazon employees.
You also have far field microphones on it that work well, but they aren’t visible this time like with 3rd gen echo dot.
At the back you have the same old power jack, along with a 3.5mm out, which really extends the functionality of the Echo dot, because you can connect it to a bigger speaker and get all the functionality without needing to buy bigger Echo devices.
This also comes in a clock version which displays the time along with other numerical details like temperature, so you can also go with that version if you find it to be a useful addition at a higher price point, and I have covered the 3rd Gen clock version if you want to check what benefits the clock has.
This is an Amazon Smart speaker, so it is of course powered by Alexa, and by this point, I am guessing most people would have an idea of what a smart speaker can do, I will still explain it, and you can skip to the sound quality section if you already know about it.
So with Alexa, you can do a lot of things, you can mostly ask it any question you want an answer to, so you can do currency conversions, can make it solve math, get names of different presidents or actors.
You can make it set alarms, reminders, and timers, you can do translations, you can make it read you a book from Amazon’s Kindle Library which is pretty cool.
And then you can of course control different smart devices like light bulbs, or Smart switches, and these days Alexa support has become quite widespread, so you even have smart air conditioners and water purifiers that are Alexa compatible. If you have a fire stick, you can also make it play content on your TV with a voice command, and you can also make calls from one Echo device to another or can even call a phone that has the Alexa app linked to your account.
I do prefer the more natural interaction of Google Assistant, but Alexa has skills that you can have a lot of fun with, and you can also make custom skills to make it say different things which is nice.
You can play different kinds of games like Skyrim which was not a meme and Speaking of memes, you can also make it tell you jokes, so let’s give that a try.
Using it to play music is of course possible, and you can use different streaming services including Amazon Music which has a really big library.
You can order things from Amazon, and can also check status of your orders.
Alexa also supports Hindi language now, and you can also change its accent in English if you don’t like the stereotypical Indian accent that it has by default.
Now while the previous generation Echo dots have been advertised as having an ‘omnidirectional’ sound, what that basically means is that there’s a single speaker that projects sound upwards, and then that gets reflected in all directions from the body of the device.
But now what we have is a forward facing 1.6 inch driver that projects sound directly towards you. This should in theory be a better approach, but we’re of course going to have a sound test and comparison with 3rd Gen Echo dot to see what kind of an improvement we have.
[Watch video for sound test]
The sound on the Echo Dot 4th Gen is better than the previous generation, but the difference isn’t that big. The bass is ‘okay’ for its size, and t does get significantly louder than the 3rd Gen echo dot, but it also has a sound that’s quite shouty at higher volumes, so the voices and vocals sound more prominent.
You will actually not have to keep it on full volume, because it does get really loud for its size, and at around 75% volume and lower, it does sound better, and you do hear more details than the Echo dot 3rd gen as the older echo dot sounds slightly muddier in comparison, but I do feel that they could have improved this more. They have completely changed the design, so a better speaker driver with a more balanced sound would have been better.
The frontal projection of sound is nice on the 4th gen, but If you miss getting the surround sound experience like with Echo Dot 3rd gen, you can just turn it around, and you’ll get a similar experience as sound will bounce from your wall.
Now if you are confused between the 3rd and 4th Gen echo dot, I would say that if there’s a big price difference between these, then you can go for the 3rd gen Echo dot. I do like how the newer echo dot looks, and it does sound a little better and louder, but the overall sound quality difference between these two isn’t that much, so if you’re getting the older model for much cheaper, then it can be a better deal, especially because all other features on both these models are identical.
The Mi Smart speaker is also a very good competitor to the new 4th Gen Echo dot, as it does sound better and more balanced, so you can also check out my review of it if getting Google Assistant instead of Alexa isn’t an issue for you.
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