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As expected, it wasn't anything revolutionary, the responses are mainly hardcoded to certain keywords. Alexa has no real AI to speak of, if she doesn't recognize a keyword she's at a total loss.
-nosh (December 05, 2017, 12:49 PM)
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I had one, and had the same issues- until I realized what I was asking.  The device doesn't have processing power to speak of, so of course it depends on pre-determined phrases.  My biggest problem was the fact that you couldn't search for random things, unlike the google home.

Some things work great though - setting quick reminders, doing calculations or defining a word are all really convenient, but none of these make the Echo a must have device.
-nosh (December 05, 2017, 12:49 PM)
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The thing that makes it a must have device is the integrations.  They're pretty open about that.  I had it integrated with IFTTT and it made things so convenient.  From walking in the room and saying "Alexa, Turn on the lights in the office" (Using LIFx in the office), "Alexa, what's the news today", or a myriad of other integrations, that's where the must have classification comes from.

The speaker is shit for listening to music but the new gen devices have a line out, so I hooked it up to my mac, which in turn is hooked up to my main sound system. I connected my Spotify account and O.M.G - the convenience of listening to any song (without compromising sound quality) in an instant is truly revolutionary. Understanding the concept really doesn't do it justice, you have to actually use it so realize how bloody wonderful it is. I can't recommend this enough to anyone whose setup allows them to hook the Echo up to a proper sound system.
-nosh (December 05, 2017, 12:49 PM)
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The dot is not made for listening to music through the speaker.  The speaker is only for it to be able to respond.  If your primary reason for using it is music, then you need the echo or echo plus (or echo spot or show)

I switched to the Google Home because it's integrated into the services that I already use, i.e. Google Music, and my Google Calendar, and Chromecast.  It's been more widely accepted in my household than Alexa because of that.  It's also integrated with Walmart for shopping to replace Amazon.

The only thing that I miss is IFTTT integration with the device's operations- I could make my LIFx blink when the timer or alarm went off on the Alexa, but IFTTT only has verbal integration with Google Home.

As far as Alexa vs Google Home, the largest consideration I think for anyone is what you plan to do with it.  Alexa was a bust for me, but Google Home has been a great addition to our household.

I've seen some comparison videos where both devices are asked the same questions, Google Home seems to be more intelligent on most occasions. And I only see the gap widening with the resources and knowhow they have at their disposal. Google's voice sounds far better (more human) too. Plus they have access to Youtube... yeah, I can easily see myself switching over down the line.

I was aware the Dot's speaker wasn't even close to high quality, I wasn't thinking of using it as a music accessory when I got it - I don't even listen to music on my JBL bluetooth speaker. I still think the Echo Dot is a great device for music as long as you hook it up to your home's sound system - it's unobtrusive and looks cool.

The dot isn't meant to play audio over its own speaker; the other editions of the Echo/Tap are.
I have one of their previous generation versions that has a real speaker and uses a battery and its sound quality is very good.  I use it purely to get news updates and play music while cooking.

Here are my few musings. I picked up several of each over the past couple of weeks.

If only someone would make a device that blends the best points of each!

We're now using Home Mini's for an intercom system. The sending device 'broadcasts' scattergun style to every other station, which is fine for us. In more complex households the Echo Dot would be better as it can target only other station(s) specified, keeping communication private from other household members.

I find 'Alexa' somewhat difficult to understand unless a Dot is hooked to a decent sound system. In contrast, I can always understand the Home Mini. For us that makes the Home Mini a better choice for in-home communication as it's not always practical to hook up to a decent sound source (I don't characterise portables as decent).

Both devices are excellent for messy-hands locations—the kitchen (What is gas mark 3 in centigrade? A direct answer from Alexa but has to be done with two questions on the Home Mini), garage (but neither can furnish directly the correct tire pressure for a specific vehicle), workshop (this wood is 7'3", how many 22 centimetre lengths can I get from it?), studio (remind me to buy more titanium white).

One can't access some skills for Alexa in Canada (yet?). For example, no stock quotes from Alexa in Canada but the Home Mini serves 'em up flawlessly. OTOH there are some Canadian specific skills.

For me there's not a clear winner, hence some of each.

I will note that:

a) my few questions to Echo Dot support have been answered with alacrity, and with genuinely helpful information.

b) I didn't need any help with the Home Mini.

Setting up the Home Mini was a breeze. Setting up Alexa was an exercise in hair-tearing frustration until I remembered that Adguard has a propensity to fire up its own VPN. Google didn't care but Alexa sure did.

In more complex households the Echo Dot would be better as it can target only other station(s) specified, keeping communication private from other household members.
-cranioscopical (December 06, 2017, 10:32 PM)
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I didn't find the commands to conference the Echo Dot very useful, and one of the reasons it didn't come off well was the indicators that someone is actually calling and if the call is in progress or not very intuitive.


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