Amazon Echo Dot – A Complete Guide

echo dotThe Amazon Echo Dot is a super compact home automation device that, when connected to the internet, can give you access to all kinds of information. Just ask a question and get the answer! It can also be used to control various things inside your home as well.

Personally, I think that this is the perfect device to help introduce you to the world of home automation.

We put together the ultimate guide to the Amazon Echo Dot right here! We will look at how to set it up properly, how to do various tasks with the device as well as different tricks and tips.

Let’s jump right into it!

What Can The Echo Dot Do?

There are actually so many things that this little thing can do just by speaking to Alexa. Take a look at some of the top uses for it:

1. 🎶 — Choosing music to listen to all hands free.
2. 🌡 – Using it to tell your smart thermostat to either turn the heat up or crank up the A/C.
3. 🛒 – Tell it to add something to a shopping list in progress.
4. ⛅ – Check the weather by simply asking it.
5. ⏰ – Ask it to wake you up at a certain time with a soothing alarm.
6. ⏲ – Keep track of time with a handy timer.
7.  💡- Control all your smart lights in your home allowing you to turn them off, on, or dimming features.
8. 🍕 – Order a pizza!
9. Lots more that will be shown later in this guide.


How Does It Work?

It’s actually very simple. Once it is all set up, you just need to say “Alexa” or another “wake up word” you can set up in the app and the Echo Dot will come alive and begin listening to your voice. You just need to ask for whatever you need.


Features

Here are the basic features that are included:

1. Great for use in any room of your house. Additionally, if you want to have it in multiple rooms, you can simply add one in each room.
2. Built in speaker. I would recommend using another device like a good bluetooth speaker for audio playback for music but the built-in speaker is good for getting back information such as the weather, time, etc.
3. You can control a number of different music services like Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music, TuneIn and iHeartRadio.
4. It is equipped with 7 microphones and technology that gives it excellent “hearing” capabilities so that it makes sure to get all your voice commands.
5. Simple management using the Alexa mobile app.


What Is The Echo Dot’s Bluetooth Range?

echo dot bluetooth

The range is approximately 30 feet.


Getting Started And Initial Set Up

Getting everything all set up and running is actually very simple. Once you get everything out of the box and ready to go, follow these steps:

amazon alexa app logo

  1. Get your smartphone or tablet and install the Alexa App from either the Google or Apple App store depending on your device.
  2. Plug in the device using the micro-USB and power brick that comes with it. You should see it light up.
  3. Wait a moment and you will start to hear the Echo Dot talking to you and basically stepping you through the set up procedure. It will direct you to fire up the Alexa App and run through the set up procedure.
  4. Go through all the steps for set up in the Alexa App.

Getting It Ready To Play Music And Other Audio

How To Set It Up With Streaming Music Services Apple iTunes Music

echo dot music streaming

In order to set up your Echo Dot to be able to listen to music from your streaming music accounts like Apple iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more. You need to do the following steps:

Step 1 – The first thing you want to have is your iTunes account on a Bluetooth device like an iPad or iPhone and make sure that the Alexa app is installed on that device.
Step 2 – Open the Alexa app and click “Settings” on the left hand side.
Step 3 – Select the Echo Dot and then click “Bluetooth” and then “Pair A New Device”.
Step 4 – Go to your Bluetooth settings on your mobile device and select your Echo Dot to connect.
Step 5 – Open your streaming music app and play a song!
Step 6 – From now on, all you need to do is tell the Echo Dot to “connect” by simply saying “Alexa, connect”.

How To Set It Up With Bluetooth Speakers

echo dot bluetooth set up

If you are looking to connect your Dot to an external speaker like a BOSE Soundtouch, BOSE Soundlink, Sonos Play 5, UE Boom or other bluetooth speakers, you just need to follow these simple steps and you will be good to go:

Step 1 – Put the speaker in close proximity to the Echo Dot.
Step 2 – Give the voice command, “Alexa, connect to a Bluetooth speaker”.
Step 3 – If the speaker in not found, you will have to go to your Alexa app on your mobile device and pair the speaker with your Echo Dot. This should only have to be done once and step 2 should work every time after this.

Whenever you are ready to disconnect from the speaker, you can simply say, “Alexa, disconnect”.


How To Set It Up With Wired Speakers And Receiver

echo dot wired set up

Got a stereo receiver at home that you want to connect to, it is very easy to do. Note – this will disable the internal speaker of the Echo Dot while it is connected this way. Just follow these simple steps:

Step 1 – Get yourself an auxilary cable and connect it from your Echo dot to your stereo receiver.
Step 2 – Select the correct channel for your Echo Dot on your receiver.

Using It To Enhance Your Video Entertainment And Control Your TV

echo dor TV setupNote – For now, I have only included info on setting up the Harmony Remote for this. Info on Fire TV, Netflix, Chromecast and other TV apps will be added soon.

How To Set It Up With Harmony Remote

Controlling your TV with your Echo Dot using a Harmony Remote is a fairly easy process to set up. Take a look at these steps:

echo dot tv harmony set up

Step 1 – Get your mobile device, open the Alexa app and click the “Smart Home” link.
Step 2 – locate the section that says “Smart Home Skills” and click “Get More Smart Home Skills”.
Step 3 – Search for and enable Harmony.
Step 4 – Using your mobile device, open the Logitech Harmony app and log into your account.
Step 5 – Configure the tasks and TV stations that you want to control with your Echo Dot.
Step 6 – Click “Link Account”.

Now you can control parts of your TV watching experience with some simple voice commands!


Setting It Up For Home Automation Tasks

home automation echo dotThis device can be used for a variety of different tasks around your house. Anything from controlling your lights, thermostat, door locks and other things. Take a look below for step by step instructions on setting these types of things up.

How To Set Up Echo Dot With Philips Hue To Control Lights

echo dot philips hue set up

Philips Hue light bulbs are basically replacement bulbs that can be controlled remotely. They can also be controlled to dim, change colors and turn off and on. Once you have the Hue set up as per their instructions, you just need to do the following to be able to control it with the Echo Dot:

Step 1 – Open the Alexa app and click “Smart Home” to detect new devices.
Step 2 – Alexa should find the Hue Bridge.
Step 3 – Once Alexa is connected to your Hue, you can say commands like “turn off light”, “turn on light”, “set light to 50%”, etc.

If you are looking to purchase Philips Hue lightbulbs and are just starting out, I would recommended their starter kit here. This gives you everything you need along with 2 bulbs to start with. If you want to control more lights, you just need to add more bulbs.


How To Set Up Echo Dot With Nest To Control Your Home’s Thermostat

echo dot nest set up

Nest is an awesome little smart thermostat that can be controlled from just about anywhere. However, when combined with the Echo Dot, it basically takes it to the next level. Being able to vocally tell your thermostat to set a specific temperature. It is an easy setup once you have the Nest installed in your home:

Step 1 – Open the Alexa app and click “Skills”.
Step 2 – Search skills for Nest.
Step 3 – Click “Enable” to start setting it up. You will be redirect to Nest where you need to log in with your login information from when you set up your Nest. You should then see that Alexa now has Nest installed.
Step 4 – In your Alexa app, click “Smart Home” and “Discover Devices”.
Step 5 – Once step 4 completes, click “Create Group” and give it a name (for example, “Living Room”).
Step 6 – You can now use voice commands like “Alexa, tell Nest to turn temperature up” or “”Alexa, tell Nest to turn temperature down” or “Alexa, tell Nest to set temperature to 70 degrees”.

How To Set Up Echo Dot With Smartthings

Samsung Smartthings will give you the ability to control a number of things around your house automatically – turn on and off lights, set up water leak sensors, door and window sensors, control door locks, video monitoring, etc. After you have installed Smartthings, just follow these steps to set it up with the Echo Dot:

Step 1 – In the menu, click “Smart Home” and scroll down to the Skills section.
Step 2 – Click “Get More Smart Home Skills”
Step 3 – Search for “Smartthings” and then click “Enable”. You will be required to log in with your Smartthings log in information to verify the connection.
Step 4 – Ensure that the “All Routines” checkbozes are on and then click “Authorize”.
Step 5 – Once step 4 completes, click “Discover Devices” to connect.
Step 6 – You can now use voice commands to control any of the devices that you have set up inside of Smartthings.

Note – in order for this to work, you will need to have the correct devices set up. See this list for examples:


Other Super Cool Uses For This Device

For Seniors And The Elderly

Since all commands are simply spoken, once it is all set up and a quick instruction is done, it is very easy for seniors to use and get a lot of benefits from what it can do. Being able to control things around the home without getting up, monitor things around the home with devices like Smartthings, create grocery lists, etc. While, it does take some getting used to, it is a great way to help an elderly person around the house.


For The Bathroom

echo dot bathroomSetting it up in the bathroom is a great way to kind of multi-task while you are getting ready to go out or go to work. While you are getting yourself ready, you can ask it things like the outside temperature, play music, etc. It’s not a must have in the bathroom but can be a fun distraction while you are getting yourself ready to go out.


For The Car

There are a number of different reasons to want to use this in your car. If your car has an internet connection, you can get local news while driving with hands-free vocal commands or even traffic reports. You can also ask it for specific music to play. If your car has an external audio jack, you can connect it to your car’s stereo system as well. If you have it set up with a garage door device, you can tell it to open your garage when you pull up to the driveway.


Using It As An Alarm Clock

echo dot alarm clockYou can set an alarm for any certain time by simply asking it to set an alarm – “Alexa, set alarm for 8am tomorrow”.  Imagine never missing another meeting or sleeping in in the morning.  I can’t say how many times my bedside clock radio has failed me and caused me to be late for work.  I think that this is an excellent way to remedy this type of problem.


Getting Local Information

echo dot local informationAt anytime, you can just ask Alexa for many different types of local information like the current temperature, traffic, local news, etc.  This is perfect for people that have internet access in their cars (and new ones are starting to include this).  A great way to get traffic information ahead of time and keep up to date on other local things.  I love this aspect of it because it keeps me informed.


For Making A Grocery List

The Echo Dot can maintain a grocery list very easily. Are you in your kitchen and just used up the last of the milk? Just say “Alexa, add milk to the grocery list”!  There are many times that I am at the grocery store, get everything I need and realize when I get home that I forgot something or forgot to write it down on my list.  This way, you just say it and it’s there!


Comparisons

How Is The Sound Quality Between The Echo And The Echo Dot?

The Echo’s sound quality is much better than the Echo Dot and this is very easy to tell just by looking at them side by side. As you can see, the Echo is much taller and this is because it includes a 9.25 inch bluetooth speaker built in. The Echo Dot has a much smaller 1.6 inch speaker. Both sound quite good but the Echo has the better sound quality.


What Are The Differences Between The Echo Dot and The Echo Dot 2.0?

The 2nd generation Echo Dot included a number of small improvements over the first version. These included:

  • An updated speaker grill.
  • No more rotary volume dial – volume controlled by voice.
  • Glossier finish.
  • An updated speech recognition processor for improved voice recognition.
  • Echo Spatial Perception (ESP) – this allows you to have multiple Echo’s in your home and only speak to one at a time.
  • Reduced price.
  • Available in both black and white.

Purchase Guide


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