Amazon Echo Dot - Update

We've been using the Amazon Echo Dot for about 6 months and it's really become part of the furniture. So, after the novelty has worn off, is it useful?

The short answer is 'Yes'.

The voice recognition is quite remarkable. The Echo seems completely unbothered by accent or pitch and understands whatever we say to it almost 100% of the time.

Here are some things we do most days.

- Tell Alexa to switch the lights on or off, or adjust the thermostat. By linking the Echo to our Smart Home system we avoid having to press buttons to do things. We can just ask Alexa to do them instead.

- Check what's in our Google Calendar. Alexa will tell us what our upcoming meetings appointments are.

- Check the weather forecast. Useful when deciding what to wear today!

- Read out the news headlines.

- Check for traffic problems on our commute.

The Echo can also play music from our Amazon library as well as radio stations from TuneIn (which includes all mainstream BBC and independent stations) although we don't use this very often. The sound quality is fine.

The only downside so far is more general. If you ask the Echo a general knowledge question - such as 'Find me a recipe for macaroni cheese' - and it can't answer it from its own knowledge base, it will pass the question to Microsoft's Bing search engine, rather than Google. The answers that come back can on occasions be a bit random. But this is a small niggle compared to the overall usefulness of the device.

The rest of the Echo's 'skills' are a mixed bag and we're still trying them out. But the Echo Dot has definitely earned its place in our house.