Amazon’s Echo smart speaker first arrived in the UK in 2016, and it wasn’t long before the glowing cylinder made its way into my home. Alexa has remained a permanent fixture there ever since, making me one of the millions of people who use the virtual assistant every day.
The Echo range has expanded significantly since then, with everything from a small sphere (Echo Dot) to large touchscreen (Echo Show 15) now available. However, there’s one big omission from Amazon’s current lineup: a regular Echo with a clock.
We’ve seen three generations of the Echo Dot with clock, so why hasn’t an LED display made its way to the larger speaker? Amazon chose not to replace the 4th-gen Echo last year, telling my colleague Lewis that there was no need to and the 5th-gen Echo Dot was merely catching up with that.
But, there is a difference and, as far as I’m concerned, the lack of a ‘with clock’ option is a missed opportunity.
Amazon’s latest 4th-gen Echo. An LED display would be a serious upgrade
Foundry / Jim Martin
The reason for this will be obvious to anyone who’s used an Echo Dot with clock. That model costs only $10/£10 more than its non-clock sibling, but makes for a substantial upgrade.
Not only can it replace a physical clock, the LED display can also display a timer, show the temperature (both outside and in the room, thanks to the Echo Dot 5’s built-in temperature sensor) and even indicate which song is currently playing.
It’s way faster to glance at a clock to see what time it is than asking Alexa, and if you use your Echo as a bedroom radio / alarm clock, you’re far more likely to prefer the Echo Dot with clock than without.
You may counter that Amazon’s range of Echo Show smart displays can do all this and much more. But although that’s true, I don’t want another screen in the house, and the recent Fire TV update for the Echo Show 15 isn’t a compelling enough reason for me to use one. I’d much rather use my much bigger TV to stream Netflix and YouTube.
Admittedly, I – like millions of other owners – don’t use Echo devices to their full potential. I use Alexa to check the weather and set timers, but mainly to play music and listen to the radio or podcasts, plus the occasional meditation session or short workout.
I don’t use Alexa to control my smart home, but even if I did, a screen isn’t necessary for that.
The Echo Dot with clock is my current go-to, but its speaker isn’t good enough to deliver room-filling audio in my open-plan kitchen/living room – even if you’ve got two set up as a stereo pair. The Echo Studio might seem like the best solution, but that doesn’t have a clock display either, and costs close to $200/£200.
For me and, again, so many other people, the regular Echo is the sweet spot in Amazon’s current range. And it offers (almost) everything I’m looking for in a smart speaker, without the distraction of a full display or the high asking price of premium audio equipment.
There’s just one thing stopping me from buying one. So Amazon, will you please add a clock to the regular Echo in 2023?
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