The Amazon Echo Dot and Echo Plus are available in Canada for the first time and there are a ton of skills from local weather services, news agencies and podcasts. The main premise behind this device is to act as a virtual assistant. It can control your smarthome stuff, like dimming the lights, but it can also read your collection of Kindle e-books aloud.
Amazon Echo Plus functionality is based on skills you have to download. You can use the Alexa app for your smartphone/tablet and pair it with your device or use your PC. Alexa is dumb without skills, so you will have to pick and choose the ones you want to install. This includes Tunein, Spotify, news, weather and a ton of others. There are around 10,000 skills available to Canadians.
This device also has a feature called routines, a set of actions that will trigger at a certain time of day, or when you say a particular phrase to Alexa. These can include reading the news report, traffic or weather, as well as activating a smart-home scene or device. So, you could say “Alexa, good morning,” and it will turn on your lights, tell you the latest headlines and start your coffee maker
The Echo Plus has a 2.5-inch woofer and a 0.8-inch tweeter, but also has a larger sound chamber than the smaller model. The result is 360-degree sound that’s richer, with better defined bass for a much more substantial sound. There is a blue ring on the top that lights up when you talk to Alexa, there is also a volume button to manually adjust it.
If you decide to buy both the Echo Dot and the Echo Plus, they can work together in tandem. This is thanks to a new feature called multi room that will let you pair up Echo speakers so that music is synchronised. It’s really a play to bringing the same music across different rooms, because this isn’t stereo pairing.
The Echo Plus is the type of product that you need to see in action, it’s like trying to describe Siri or Google Voice Assistant, when you have never used it before. Check out our video review and unboxing below to get a sense on what it can do.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.