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Is it worth the display?

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The Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) smart speaker against a white background

  • Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen)

    Affordable without frills

    $35 $50 Save $15

    The Echo Dot is Amazon’s smallest and most affordable smart speaker. The fifth generation, released in 2022, comes with an improved audio driver for fuller sound, plus enhanced smart features like Eero Wi-Fi extender functionality and a built-in temperature sensor for Alexa routines.

    Pros

    • Clean, attractive design
    • Internal temperature sensor
    • Eero Wi-Fi extender and Matter support
    Cons

    • Middling audio quality
    • No 3.5mm audio input

  • Amazon Echo Dot with Clock 5th Gen

    Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen)

    Versatile display

    $40 $60 Save $20

    The Amazon Echo Dot with Clock is a normal Echo Dot with — you guessed it — a clock added. The newest generation can show more than just the time, though: unlike the fourth-generation model, 2022’s version has a display that shows useful data like simple weather forecasts.

    Pros

    • Lovely little display provides useful information
    • Internal temperature sensor
    • Eero Wi-Fi extender and Matter support
    Cons

    • Middling sound quality
    • No 3.5mm audio port
    • Limited color choices


If you’re looking for an affordable voice assistant, Amazon’s Echo Dot models are among the best smart speakers you can buy. While they don’t provide the kind of sound quality that will make you want to use them as primary speakers, they’re affordable enough that you can drop one in nearly every room, so you can call on Alexa from anywhere in your home.



However, Amazon offers two models of the latest, fifth-generation Echo Dot: a standard version and a slightly more expensive one that includes a display on the front. Let’s look at what’s different about these two models and which could be the better choice for your home.


Price, availability, and specs

The Echo Dot (5th Gen) and Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen) are naturally available from Amazon, but you can also find them at other major retailers, such as Best Buy.


The Echo Dot (5th Gen) is priced at $50 and comes in three color options: Charcoal, Deep Sea Blue, and Glacier White. The Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen) retails for $10 more and is available in a more limited selection of Cloud Blue and Glacier White.


  • Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen)Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen)
    Dimensions100 x 100 x 89mm100 x 100 x 89mm
    Weight340g304g
    IntegrationsAmazon Alexa, Matter, ZigbeeAmazon Alexa, Matter, Zigbee
    ConnectivityWi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0
    ColorsCharcoal, Deep Sea Blue, Glacier WhiteCloud Blue, Glacier White

Design

Amazon Echo Dot showing the temperature and a lighted base


Not surprisingly, the Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock sport nearly identical designs that are differentiated solely by the LED clock on the front of the latter. The two smart speakers also only have a single color in common — Glacier White — with the Echo Dot otherwise leaning toward the darker side with Charcoal and Deep Sea Blue, while the Echo Dot with Clock offers a pastel Cloud Blue finish.


The Echo Dot family’s spherical design is a bit polarizing for long-time fans of Amazon’s most affordable Alexa speaker. The first three generations of Echo Dot were smaller, puck-shaped affairs that could be tucked away more unobtrusively. Amazon morphed this into a spherical design with the fourth-generation Echo Dot series, making it more of a showpiece.


The odd thing about Amazon’s newer design is that the Echo Dot tends to look larger in photos than in reality. At only 3.9 inches wide, it’s not much larger than a softball. However, it’s not perfectly spherical but rather more of an oblate spheroid, flattening out a bit at the top where the buttons are located.


Hand touching Amazon Echo Dot on a wooden table.

Source: Amazon


Both the Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock feature that same four-button arrangement found on most Amazon Echo speakers: two for volume control, one to call up Alexa manually, and one to cut off the mic for privacy. The top also hides a sensor that allows you to pause music, end a call, or snooze your alarm with just a tap on the top. A glowing LED ring at the bottom lights up in various colors, including blue when processing requests, yellow for notifications, and red when you mute the mic to confirm the privacy mode is active.


An Amazon Echo Dot with Clock with a glowing blue light showing the time


What sets the Echo Dot with Clock apart is obvious from its name: the front includes an LED display that blends into the speaker’s fabric to show you the time and other useful information at a glance. While the display on the fourth-generation Echo Dot with Clock was more limited, this one features a full grid of LED dots that allows it to scroll text horizontally across the front to give you more detailed weather updates and the artist and title of whatever you’re currently listening to. The display can also be turned off to make your Echo Dot with Clock look more like an Echo Dot.


Sadly for some, the fifth-generation Echo Dot models have eliminated the 3.5mm input jack found in prior generations. Around the back, you’ll find only a single power port for the removable cable. It’s now Bluetooth or nothing for streaming your audio to the new Echo Dot, although, of course, you can call up any streaming services for direct play via Alexa.


Echo Dot Kids_Reveals_1920x1080.030

Source: Amazon


Lastly, there’s an Echo Dot Kids version that’s worth a passing mention. The specs are identical to the Echo Dot (5th Gen), which means there’s no clock, but it’s available in fun Dragon and Owl designs suitable for putting in a kid’s room. There’s also an extended two-year replacement warranty to recognize that youngsters may be harder on speakers and a bundled year of Amazon’s Kids+ subscription service that offers content suitable for preschoolers and preteens. You’ll pay $10 more for the cuter designs, bundled subscription, and warranty coverage, so it’s basically a trade-off between this and the Echo Dot with Clock.


Another kid-friendly Echo option is the Echo Pop Kids. Compared to the Echo Dot Kids, this newer model offers a slightly bigger speaker and Disney Princess or Marvel Avengers themes.

Sound quality

Echo Dot 5

Source: Amazon


The fifth-generation Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock pack the same 44-millimeter front-firing speaker, slightly increased in size over the fourth generation’s 41-millimeter driver. In practical terms, that doesn’t make much of a difference, and both speakers deliver a sound that can only be described as adequate.


That’s not to say that the Echo Dot won’t do a solid job delivering things like ambient sound, sleep music, and spoken word content. However, if you’re expecting boomy room-filling audio, you won’t find it on either of these speakers. There’s also no reason to choose the Echo Dot with Clock over the Echo Dot as the two deliver identical sound quality. If sound quality is important, you’ll be far better off going with the standard Echo or flagship Echo Studio if you’re willing to splurge a bit. And if you’re not married to the Amazon Alexa ecosystem (and you’re an iPhone user), Apple’s HomePod Mini comes in a similar form factor and runs circles around the Echo Dot for sound quality, albeit at twice the price.


The bottom line is that the Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock should be viewed as Alexa voice assistant speakers, first and foremost. They offer an affordable way to deploy Alexa throughout your home, with sound quality that’s competent for casual listening. That’s exactly what we’d expect from a sub-$60 speaker; Amazon hasn’t worked any miracles in acoustic engineering here.

Performance

amazon-echo-dot-top


The Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock offer few surprises for anybody who has used an Amazon Alexa-enabled speaker before. The speakers are set up and configured through the Alexa app like prior Echo speakers and are basically on par for features and performance.


That said, the fifth-generation Echo Dot brings some pretty big changes for home automation and connectivity. Amazon fully embraced the new cross-platform Matter standard and brought the Thread wireless networking protocol to the Echo Dot. That makes the Echo Dot a first-class citizen in the world of home automation, with interoperability with other platforms such as Google Home and Apple HomeKit.


The Eero 6+ smart home hub on a glass table


Both the Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock can also work to extend the range of an Eero mesh Wi-Fi network, so instead of buying an Eero unit for your upstairs bedroom, a fifth-generation Echo Dot or Echo Dot with Clock can take care of that for you. Each Echo Dot adds up to 1,000 square feet in coverage, although you’ll still want to invest in an Eero Pro if you’re looking for the fastest and best coverage, as there’s no Wi-Fi 6 support here.


The Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock also include motion and temperature sensors. These are primarily designed to be tied into home automation routines, such as turning on the AC when your room gets too hot in the summer; however, this is also where the Echo Dot with Clock gets an edge since its display can show you the room temperature at a glance.

Which is right for you?

Echo Dot on table near lamp, incense, and bonsai tree

Source: Amazon


Amazon’s Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock are virtually identical speakers other than including a clock and the differences in color choices. In every other way, they offer the same sound quality, features, and performance.


Nevertheless, the Echo Dot with Clock offers more bang for your buck, giving you a versatile display for only $10 more. Don’t be fooled by the word “clock,” as the multi-dot LED design allows this Echo Dot’s display to show you a lot more than just the time. You’ll be able to see the title of what’s playing, the indoor and outdoor temperature, and even icons to display current weather conditions. The Echo Dot with Clock may prove to be quite useful in a home’s busiest areas, like kitchens where timers would be useful, or in an entryway to glimpse the weather before heading outside.


Furthermore, since the display can be turned off when you don’t want to see it, the only reason to avoid the Echo Dot with Clock is if you’re absolutely certain you’ll never want the display capabilities, or you’re simply looking for a darker color option, for aesthetic purposes. The Echo Dot with Clock is sadly only available in Glacier White and Cloud Blue, which may not be suitable for every type of decor.

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock 5th Gen

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen)

Editor’s choice

A clock and then some

$40 $60 Save $20

Amazon’s Echo Dot with Clock is more than just a clock, although that feature may certainly come in handy if you need an accessible digital clock in a bathroom or kitchen. Other useful features that the Echo Dot with Clock adds include simple weather forecasts and timers — again, nice options to have depending on where you place the Echo.

The standard Amazon Echo Dot is still a solid choice if you want to save a few bucks and have no use for a front-facing display. While the $10 price difference isn’t much for a single speaker, that can add up quickly if you’re looking to equip several rooms in your home. Plus, the Charcoal and Deep Sea Blue colorways look really nice for those who prefer a darker finish.

The Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) smart speaker against a white background

Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen)

Runner up

A great choice sans the clock

$35 $50 Save $15

The Echo Dot (5th Gen) is Amazon’s latest iteration of the smart speaker. It shares identical features with the Dot with Clock, like better sound performance over the 4th generation and a built-in temperature sensor. The only thing it’s lacking is the clock display.

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