Although we’ve seen Amazon Alexa appear on a lot of third-party speakers lately, Amazon’s own Echo and Echo Dot speakers still have the feature advantage over many of the other options by offering things like Routine audio actions and direct support for Spotify playback. Understandably, however, not everybody is impressed with the audio quality of Amazon’s own speakers, and in particular the entry-level Echo Dot is very clearly intended more as an Alexa device than anything you’d want to listen to music on, and this is where Divoom comes in — the veteran speaker maker’s new ADOT is an Echo-like speaker designed specifically to dock with an Echo Dot, extending it to provide not only good audio quality, but also portability.
Just to be clear right out of the gate, ADOT is an accessory for the Amazon Echo Dot, not a standalone speaker. While Divoom provides the speaker along with a built-in 10,000 mAh battery, it requires you to supply your own Echo Dot for all of its additional “smarts” — even Bluetooth support. In the box, you’ll find the speaker itself along with a user guide and an adapter designed specifically for connecting the speaker to the Echo Dot — a barrel connector and 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom plugs into the back of the ADOT, while a micro USB connector and 3.5mm jack on the top connect to the Echo Dot, supplying power to the Echo Dot and pulling audio back into the speaker. Note that the ADOT package doesn’t even include a micro USB cable, which we thought was odd at first, but then realized that it actually makes sense as you can simply use the micro USB cable from your Echo Dot.
The Echo Dot drops into a recessed section on the top of the ADOT that’s clearly made just for this purpose, effectively turning ADOT into a speaker that resembles Amazon’s larger Echo in appearance. Connecting the two devices is a matter of simply lining up the ports on the back and plugging in the supplied adapter. At the bottom rear of the speaker is a power button, three status LEDs to show battery charge level, and a micro USB port for powering the speaker. ADOT can be used plugged into the wall in much the same manner as the Echo Dot itself, but adds the advantage of a built-in battery that lets you move it around the house or even take it out with you; obviously Alexa won’t work if you’re away from Wi-Fi, but you can pair your iPhone with the Echo Dot via Bluetooth, essentially transforming your Echo Dot into a much better — and portable — Bluetooth speaker. Divoom promises 16 hours of standby time on a single charge.
What particularly impressed us with ADOT wasn’t just the ability to transform the Echo Dot into a full speaker, but to actually turn it into a much better speaker than even Amazon’s own Echo. Divoom has a fair bit of experience building speakers, and it shows here, and because the company hasn’t had to concern itself with anything other than building a basic battery-powered speaker, it’s able to deliver pretty amazing sound for its price. Compared with other Alexa-enabled speakers we’ve looked at recently, ADOT delivered noticeably more balanced sound than 808 Audio’s disappointingly bass-anemic XL-V and edged out Fabriq’s slightly bass-heavy Chorus. ADOT delivers solid bass with crisp mids and highs, and can fill a room at peak volume without any noticeable distortion. Of course, it is still basically a sub-$100 speaker, so the sound isn’t as refined as some of the higher-end speakers we’ve looked at, bit we’d say it easily holds its own against most speakers at even twice the price, and it’s definitely the best-sounding Alexa speaker we’ve heard, beating out even Amazon’s own Echo, and blowing Amazon’s Tap out of the water.
That last point is particularly important, in fact, because in the end with ADOT you’ll be paying a slight price premium over simply purchasing an Echo or Tap outright; ADOT retails for $60, but it’s basically useless as anything but a basic wired speaker without adding a $50 Echo Dot to the mix, bringing the total price tag to $110. Of course, with ADOT you’re not only getting better sound quality, but also a battery-powered portable Bluetooth speaker with always-on Alexa support — something that none of Amazon’s speakers currently offer. Further, since all of the intelligence in ADOT comes from the Echo Dot, it’s a full-fledged Amazon-grade speaker in terms of features, but there’s a downside to this too — you’ll be able to use all Alexa features, but not things like AirPlay or stereo pairing. Still, for somebody heavily into the world of Amazon Alexa, ADOT is a great choice, and it’s even more appealing if you’re already got an Echo Dot laying around and want to turn it into a “real” speaker.
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