The new Amazon Echo Dot, available in black or white with a slightly changed design, ships today in the U.S. and England (no, not Canada).

 
echodot2ndgen6and12packAt just $49.99 US, it’s so affordable compared to the previous model that Amazon plans to sell six and twelve-packs of the second generation Dot so that people can equip every room in their homes with one. With the six pack, Amazon is giving away the sixth for free (buy 5 get 1 free) or buy the twelve pack and get 2 for free (buy 10 get 2 free).

Resembling a hockey-puck rather than the tall cylinder of its big sister Echo, the smaller, cheaper Echo Dot actually has two goals: be the new entry-level device for those just getting started with Alexa, as well as making it affordable for existing users to spread her skills around the home.

sub-buzz-15177-1473869836-1And while you’re doing tasks around the house, a new Echo Spatial Perception (ESP) technology allows Echo and Dot units to work together so that only one device responds to your query. Basically, ESP allows Alexa to respond intelligently from only the device that’s closest to you.

This is good news for the loyal fan base and points to signs of a maturing Echo platform but while Amazon enjoys a comfortable lead, it’s not without threats. The home smart speaker race is about to heat up with Google’s coming launch of Google Home (November 4th in the US, Canada in 2017) and rumours of Apple and Samsung competitor products. Amazon’s task is to continue to gain market share while creating a reason to stay with Amazon.

new-echo-dot-product-photos-5As far as Echo Dot, there’s still work to be done. For example, it’s disappointing that Echo Dot (and the Echo platform generally) still can’t stream across multiple devices. This doesn’t seem to be as much a hardware problem so perhaps it’s something Amazon can implement in an upcoming software update. Both Google’s Chromecast Audio and Apple’s Airplay having been doing this for some time.

What’s good? The second-gen, mini-sized Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker is just as smart as the first at nearly half the cost, and it’s better at hearing you (ESP), too.

What’s not so good? Amazon’s Echo products still can’t offer audio that syncs across multiple devices in multiple rooms.

 

Read the Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation) review roundup:

Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation) review (c|net)

Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Gen) Review: Alexa goes everywhere (SlashGear)

Why Amazon’s Echo Dot Is Better Than Amazon Echo (TurboFuture)