November 3, 2018
I like controlling my lights and setting timers and alarms with the Echo Dots, however I'm frustrated more often than not with them. And, frankly, before having the Echo Dots I controlled my lights with Siri on my iPhone and iPad, so it's not like I'm getting much more functionality out of them.
I find the Dot is constantly making mistaking. Examples:
- I was trying out the music and asked it to play 'old music'. It kept repeating back, "Great, I'll play Soul Music", then it would start to play soul music. 5-6 times this happened. And, no, it doesn't apparently understand a negative, such as, "Alexa, do not play Soul Music," because that statement immediately triggers it to say, "Great, I'll play Soul Music" and then it starts to play soul music again. (Nothing against Soul Music, it's just not what I wanted.) I never did get what I wanted.
- I will tell it to play sleep sounds. It will tell me either that I have to download the app, which I have already done or that it can't find the sleep sound that I requested, even if it played the night before. Or worse, it will start to play music related to the sleep sound that I asked for. (I never knew there were so many songs related to rain or trains.) After a half dozen or more tries and screaming, "Alexa, STOP!" repeatedly, I am no longer able to even think about sleeping, even if it does finally get it right!
-I will tell it to turn on the living room light and it will tell me I have to set it up in the app. It IS set up to turn the lights on and off and it has completed this command many times. Although, I am finding this command is gradually getting better, but it's not perfect, yet.
-I will tell tell it to play an Audible book and it will tell me that I have to buy the book from Amazon, even though I already own the book through Audible.com (an Amazon company) and have played it several times before on that very Dot.
What is most annoying is that often I just want to know something basic, like today I wanted to know what date was Thanksgiving Day. Instead of simply telling me the date, it gave me a long history of how the date came about and never did give me the date.
Out of every 10 commands, it is a guarantee that 7-8 commands will have to be repeated, changed, broken down into simpler steps or started over multiple times. I find myself screaming "Alexa, stop!" in frustration constantly, as it rambles on incorrectly or plays something incorrectly. (And I am accent-free, with very clear speech.)
Not to mention the apps, of which they tout are so many tens of thousands, are pretty useless. For instance, I had heard I could make a list on it, such as a grocery list or To-Do list. Yeah, I can, but the grocery list is in the Dot and not anyplace useful; it doesn't link to my Grocery app or Things 3 app on my computer or phone, for example. It is buried deep in the Alexa app, which is totally inconvenient. If I want it in my Grocery or Things 3 apps I have to play it back and manually transfer it line by line.
Set-up, which I had read was a breeze, was anything but. I had to contact Amazon customer service, which itself is difficult to find, then it took them a good 40 minutes to help me get the Dot to work.
I am very disappointed in the sound quality, too. It is not good enough to make me want to listen to music through it, at all. I will listen to books, but frankly ear buds have much better sound quality and make the listening a richer experience. When Alexa is playing something, like answering a question or giving a daily brief, the volume goes up and down ridiculously. One statement will blow you off the bed, while the other will be very quiet.
Regarding listening to Audible books, now that is extremely frustrating! I bought 2 Echo Dots, one for the bedroom and one for the living room, specifically so I could listen to Audible books while moving around my apartment. Audible.com is an Amazon company, so you would think that they would integrate the linking of the Dots together for playback. Nope! After talking to Customer Service, I found out that only music can be linked to play back on both Dots simultaneously. Audible.com books can only play back on one Dot or the other at one time. How stupid is that?
I find being more than 5-7 feet away from the Dot makes it very iffy on whether it will correctly hear what I say. How is it helpful if I have to walk to within a few feet of the Dot to ask it turn off the lights, when walking 3 more feet I could turn off the lights by hand? I've put the Dots so many places trying to find the best places for them and decided that I wish it had batteries so I could just carry it around. I guess this is how they get you to buy 20 of them for your apartment.
I thought I would love these, but it's like thinking you are buying powerful motorcycles and getting a couple of tricycles instead. Maybe if I were into trivia and games I would like them more, but I want them to accomplish more important things, not just be toys.