There were no particular requests for the fifth generation of this smart speaker but it still arrived on the market with several updates.
- The larger display contains more information
- The ambient temperature sensor is excellent
- There is an accelerometer for gesture recognition
- It can function as a node within an Eero Wi-Fi mesh network
- The audio performance is still below that of a Sonos One
- The 3.5mm analog audio output has been removed
- The mesh node feature will only be useful for those who already own an Eero router
Amazon sells the best entry-level smart speaker yet and the great features built within this fifth generation to make it even better the company has added several great features to this generation to make it even better.
Best Prices Around: Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Generation)
The fifth generation of Amazon Echo Dot is the most affordable of the smart speakers around and the model reviewed here is equipped with a very useful display for 10 euros more. Both the Echo Dot (5th generation) and Echo Dot with clock (also 5th generation) offer several new features that can justify the price to upgrade to both 4th generation and previous generation Echo Dot owners. Despite inflation, these new models cost the same as the previous ones: 49.95 and 59.95 euros.
The larger display in the Amazon Echo Dot with clock (5th generation) allows the smart speaker to show an icon on the screen containing weather icons (such as a cloud symbol) as well as the temperature.
Both versions of the fifth generation Echo Dot have a new and more powerful CPU, the AZ2 Neural Edge Processor made by Amazon, and both have several interesting innovations.
The most evident novelty of the model with clock is the presence of a brighter and more legible display. In addition to displaying the current temperature, this display is also capable of showing the name of the song currently playing and the name of the artist. The width of the display is only 2 inches and therefore you need to know that the information scrolls rapidly to the left, then returning everything to the clock. Alexa, with the appropriate voice command, will specify what she is playing but the information will then no longer be displayed on the screen until the next song is played.
A new 44mm (1.73-inch) high-excursion driver (a step up from the previous model’s 1.6-inch one) promises to deliver clearer vocals and improved bass response within a leftover chassis identical to that of the fourth generation smart speaker, even if no Amazon smart speaker (except Echo Studio) was able to approach the sound performance of the excellent Sonos One. However, compliments remain to be made to Amazon for having tried but it is difficult to do much better having a speaker the size of a softball.
The two-inch display is limited in the amount of information it can display. Here the Echo Dot is playing “Dirty Work” by Steely Dan. The band name was already scrolling to the left of the display.
The rest of the fifth-generation Echo Dot’s new features are great for making the decision to upgrade easier: an ambient temperature sensor can be programmed to activate a smart fan in case of excessive heat, or it can change the set temperature on the home automation thermostat for activating the heating or, again, modifying the parameters at which the air conditioner is activated by altering the temperature of the room where the smart speaker is positioned (instead of always having to keep faith with the thermostat). This function is an advantage for those who already have a home with a home automation system that regulates the temperature but which however do not support types of remote sensors, necessary to eliminate hot spots and cold spots in the house;
Like the fourth-generation Echo Dot, this fifth-generation model features four rubbery buttons on the top of the dome: Volume up, volume down, mute, and a button to activate Alexa without saying the password. The built-in accelerometer lets you tap the top of the device (the area around the buttons, not directly on them) so you can pause music, turn off alarms, and turn off the stopwatch or phone calls without having to use voice commands. The fourth generation model already had a “tap to snooze” button for the wake-up function but this was the only supported gesture.
Echo Dot as a Wi-Fi range extender
The Echo Dot comes with a dual-band Wi-Fi 5 adapter; if your home network is powered by an Eero mesh Wi-Fi router or a Ring Alarm Pro (a product with an integrated Eero Wi-Fi 6 router) you will have a great opportunity: to be able to configure a fifth generation Echo Dot to operate as a node wireless on that network. To take full advantage of this last function, however, it is necessary to think carefully about the position in which the echo dot is placed. If you place the smart speaker near another Eero node or near the router, there will be problems as the signals from the routers will overlap seamlessly. Amazon thankfully offers the option to leave the feature off; to activate it you will need to go through the Eero app and not through the Alexa app.
Pressing the volume up or down buttons on the new Echo Dot will visually show the volume level.
Amazon says this built-in Eero feature can add up to 90 square feet of coverage to any existing Eero network. By placing the Echo Dot in my bedroom, approximately 20 feet from the Ring Alarm Pro in the room I use as my home office, I have significantly increased Wi-Fi download speeds that are measurable in my backyard, approximately 8 meters from the Dot and 15 meters from the router. Without the Dot I got speeds of 119.8 Mbps download and 101.7 Mbps upload.
After configuring the Dot as an Eero node, the average download speed increased to 147.4 Mbps while the upload speed decreased to 90.4 Mbps. This is about a 23% improvement in download speed, but that it is accompanied by an 11% drop in upload speed. Personally I find it ok that the download speed increases significantly, even in the face of a decrease in upload speed. Adding a node to an Eero mesh network should also help eliminate dead spots in Wi-Fi coverage, as long as you can find a suitable spot to place both the smart speaker and Wi-Fi access point.
Amazon eliminated a feature that all Echo speakers have long had: there is no 3.5mm analog audio output to connect to a traditional speaker. If you want to use a higher quality speaker with this Dot then you will need to connect it via Bluetooth.
However, the Echo Dot with clock (5th generation) and its non-display smart speaker sibling still have the four rubbery buttons from the previous generation.
Should I upgrade to an Echo Dot (5th generation)?
If you own an Eero or Ring Alarm Pro router and are considering buying a new Eero node, thinking about buying an Echo Dot (5th generation) with or without a display is a very advantageous choice.
In addition to all the other great features typical of this smart speaker, with this product you will also be able to extend the range of your Wi-Fi network.
Unfortunately, the problem is a little more complex for all other types of users. If you’re buying your first smart speaker, the Amazon Alexa ecosystem is the strongest out there as well as the most widely supported. Google Home speakers are a little better at answering general questions, also thanks to the support of the most powerful search engine in the world, but Alexa is no less in this field and no one is better than Alexa when it comes to controlling home automation devices smart phones, music streaming services, contact other family members or so much more. Spending 10 euros more to buy a speaker with a larger display thanks to the version with an integrated clock could therefore be worth it.
If you have a fourth-generation or older Echo, upgrading to get new features like the ambient temperature sensor, accelerometer, and larger display may or may not be worth it. Unless you plan to move the old speaker to another room. I live in a tiny 700-square-foot house and use five Echo speakers with no problems—I have one in each bedroom, one in the kitchen, one in the living room, and one in the basement—and I can’t imagine living without them. The Echo Dot with Clock (5th Generation) is a great value product in the smart speaker space and I can’t help but highly recommend it.