Echo Dot (5th Gen) with Clock Review: the new gold standard for entry-level smart speakers
We review the 5th-gen Amazon Echo Dot with Clock. Did this smart speaker’s audio shine as bright as its LED display?
The 5th Generation of Amazon’s Echo Dot with Clock is a 5-star household helper. This charming gadget has raised the bar for budget-friendly smart speakers by combining impressive sound with a cyber-chic LED clock display. It’s an ideal option for organizing your life, playing audio, and subtly incorporating smart tech into your interior.
Stylish LED clock display
Good audio quality
Excellent responsiveness to voice commands
Not suitable for ‘audiophile’ listening
In-app prompts to use Amazon services might put off some users
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For those of you who want a smart speaker that’ll be an ideal houseguest and life organizer, we’d like to introduce you to the fifth generation of Amazon’s affordable option, the Echo Dot with Clock.
The speaker is about the size of a grapefruit – and it looks suitably sharp, with a stylish digital display and a pleasing spherical silhouette. You can use it to control smart home appliances, listen to music, read the time, and tap into thousands of other Alexa capabilities.
Keep reading to find out how the speaker stood up to our detailed testing, or see our guide to the best Alexa speakers to scope out our favorite alternative products at a range of price points.
Echo Dot (5th Gen) with Clock: Key specs
Smart platform: Alexa
Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth connectivity with some Bluetooth speakers
Power: mains-powered (15W)
Dimensions: 100 x 100 x 89mm
How does the Echo Dot (5th Gen) with Clock fit in around the home?
The Amazon Echo Dot with Clock looks superb and takes up very little space while it’s at it. Whether you place it on a bedside table, kitchen counter, shelf, or pretty much any other surface around the home, the speaker is a neat, unobtrusive addition that plays audio, responds to voice queries, and links up effectively to other smart home devices.
There’s a friendliness to this smart speaker – a cheekiness and a charm that might make you believe the device really is animated by a certain intelligence.
We were particularly impressed with the speaker’s cyber-chic LED clock display, which dynamically spells out characters in 24 bright, blocky pixels. As well as telling the time, the display also scrolls through songs and artist names while the speaker plays music and shows a weather symbol to save you the trouble of glancing out the window. It feels a bit like having a little Times Square in your home.
Also worthy of a lingering glance is the funky LED strip around the base of the speaker, which flits between various colors – blue, red, orange, purple, yellow, and green – to indicate the Echo Dot’s status. If you’re anything like our reviewer, you’ll never commit the meanings of these colors to memory, but it’s an eye-catching touch nonetheless. If you’d rather not see the light strip at night, you can turn it off using the speaker’s Do Not Disturb mode, which can be configured in-app.
As the Echo Dot with Clock is mains-powered, you’ll probably want to find a neat solution for stowing the power cable. Placing the speaker on a surface that has countertop plug sockets could help, or you could feed the wire through a hole and plug it into a concealed socket.
Pete Wise is a freelance writer and prolific product reviewer for titles including Ideal Home, T3, Expert Reviews, The Independent and BBC Good Food. He likes stuff with soul – be that beautifully crafted furniture or a characterful smart home device. Getting to grips with the Echo Dot with Clock’s myriad capabilities, from audio playback to voice commands, was Pete’s idea of a sweet gig.
Echo Dot (5th Gen) with Clock: Set-up
In order to use this smart speaker, you’ll need to set up the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone and connect both devices to your WiFi.
As tends to be the case with smart speakers, there’s a fair bit of configuration to do here – things like adding family members to your user account, linking up your chosen music service(s), and teaching the Alexa smart assistant how you tend to pronounce certain phrases. It’s all worthwhile in order to get the full benefit of the speaker’s excellent capabilities.
If you want to expand the range of Alexa’s listening capabilities or a bigger sound, you can sync up the Echo Dot with Clock with other Amazon smart speakers.
Echo Dot (5th Gen) with Clock: Performance
In terms of smart assistant functionality, the Echo Dot with Clock is one of the best smart speakers in the biz.
The speaker’s onboard Alexa smart assistant answers query remarkably quickly, and the responses are often impressively on-the-money. In our testing, Alexa proved to be a good listener, rarely unable to understand our commands and a good orator with extremely clear diction.
We were impressed with the Echo Dot with Clock’s ability to hear voice commands at a distance, sometimes when competing with background noise. It was possible to complete commands from separate rooms of the house, several meters away from the speaker.
If you’re not keen on Alexa’s default voice, you can choose from several other voices in the app. Some male options are included, which is good news for users who feel uncomfortable about telling a representation of a woman what to do all day.
There are just four buttons on the Echo Dot with Clock itself: a multi-purpose ‘Action’ button, volume up; volume down; and a microphone mute button. These controls are placed slightly towards the rear of the sphere – a good design choice that leaves a pleasing space around the LED clock display. If you’re going to keep the speaker on a high shelf, just be aware that you may need to lift it down when you want to use the on-device controls. In our experience, the speaker’s voice commands worked so well that we never needed to use these old-fashioned buttons, anyway.
As an alarm clock, the Echo Dot is perhaps dangerously simple-to-use. It only takes a light tap on the top of the speaker to snooze your alarm. A dot to the bottom-right of the clock display lets you know when you have an alarm set for some time in the next 24 hours.
Echo Dot (5th Gen) with Clock: Audio performance
Taking its price into consideration, the Echo Dot with Clock has no business sounding as good as it does. What it does particularly well are separate higher and lower frequencies. The bass is punchy, the treble is luxuriantly clear. We found that the speaker is particularly good at representing the human voice: fine for music, great for podcasts, radio, and smart assistant answers.
The Echo Dot with Clock’s audio quality compares favorably to other affordable smart speakers. It’s a cut above other options we’ve tested from Amazon and key rival Google, but understandably below the level of higher-end options like the Marshall Stanmore II Voice. The character of the sound is reminiscent of Ultimate Ears’ more compact models, such as the Wonderboom series.
On the whole, the Echo Dot with Clock performed reliably during our testing. The only exception was when it crashed, just once, during setup. Even then, it was back up and running within a minute.
Echo Dot (5th Gen) with Clock: Our verdict
Smart speaker tech has always promised a lot. Through the 5th-gen Echo Dot with Clock, Amazon has finally delivered on the technology’s potential with a great-sounding, character-rich smart speaker that works nearly flawlessly and doesn’t break the bank. If you’re looking for an audiophile listening experience, you’ll need to look higher upmarket – but in all other regards, we can hardly imagine a better gadget to help around the home than the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th gen.). We don’t hand out five-star reviews like confetti, but this speaker sparkles.
Pete Wise is a freelance writer based in Leeds. As a product reviewer, Pete has written hundreds of articles on topics ranging from kitchen appliances, audio systems and smart home tech to hiking boots, home brewing kits, and hot sauce. His reviews have been published by T3, Ideal Home, BBC Good Food, Expert Reviews – and now, Livingetc.
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