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Amazon Echo Dot with Clock review (2020)

Like the first Amazon Echo Dot with Clock, but rounder

Echo Dot with Clock review
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Our Verdict

The second Amazon Echo Dot with Clock ($60) is as useful as the first edition of the versatile Alexa smart speaker, plus the LED display looks great on the updated round profile.

For

  • LED display is more visible
  • Fuller sound than original
  • Fair price for a smart alarm clock

Against

  • No new display features
Amazon Echo Dot with Clock: Specs

Speakers: 1.6mm
Ports: 3.5mm line out
Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n/ac, 2.4/5GHz
Size: 3.9 x 3.9 x 3.5 inches
Weight: 12 ounces

When I reviewed the first $60 Amazon Echo Dot with Clock, I swooned over the simple ingenuity of its added LED display. For $10 more than the traditional third-generation Echo Dot, I could see the time without asking, as well as timers and the temperature. I handed over that Hamilton more than once while shopping for holiday gifts, naive to the possibility Amazon would replace this adored Echo model of mine within a year.

In Amazon’s defense, it morphed its entire cylinder-shaped Echo lineup into spheres, revolving around the notion that smart speakers should be both seen and heard. But the Echo Dot with Clock already had a visual perk going for it, no? Instead of doing what it did well at the outset — make something that’s practically perfect more useful — the Echo Dot with Clock simply took something great and made it more... round.

Current Echo Dot with Clock owners will find no reason to upgrade, but if you’re an Alexa newbie or want to update an older Echo, this Echo Dot with Clock (4th gen) review explains why it’s hands-down one of the best smart speakers right now.

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock review: Price and availability

The Amazon Echo Dot with Clock costs $59.99 and is available as of November 5. It replaces the puck-shaped Echo Dot with Clock on the e-commerce giant’s virtual shelves. However, the classic third-generation Echo Dot is still being sold for $29.99 while supplies last. 

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock review: Time is on its side

When Amazon wondered how to make one of the best smart home devices even better, the answer proved as simple as putting time on its side. Literally, it added a LED clock beneath the fabric-swathed side of the third-generation Echo Dot. It gave Alexa a familiar face — that of an unsophisticated nightstand alarm clock.

Echo Dot with Clock review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Whether it’s for checking the time in the early mornings or setting a timer for culinary endeavors, I no longer need to ask Alexa for information I want to see at a glance. I still appreciate these features on the new Echo Dot with Clock, but I’m used to saving my breath now. Maybe I’d feel more inspired if an additional display tool arrived, like a second LED line to see both the time and temperature at once, similar to the $50 Lenovo Smart Clock Essential’s layout. Or perhaps a face that shows the date, or the humidity.

Echo Dot with Clock review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

That said, I’m spoiled now and wouldn’t want an Echo without the LED display. Part of me even hoped Amazon would include a clock in the fourth-generation Echo, but that $99 speaker is probably too large for most bedsides.

Amazon Echo Dot vs. Echo Dot with Clock: Which should you buy?

In terms of audio quality and smart home performance, the Echo Dot with Clock is identical to the standard, displayless Echo Dot. Our Amazon Echo Dot (4th gen) review provides an overview on the improvements over previous models, but I’ll go ahead and tell you there’s not many changes beyond aesthetics.

Echo Dot with Clock review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While the puck-shaped Echo Dot sounds a little hollow now compared to the spherical Echo Dot, the internals are more or less the same. The newer models have a larger chamber that helps the bass carry, so that could be what gave Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” richer depth in side-by-side testing. 

Echo Dot with Clock review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Still, the Echo Dot is not the smart speaker to get if you’re looking to flood your home with high-quality sound. Yes, it’s good for the price, but the Sonos One, or even the Amazon Echo Studio, are better choices for a larger space. When it comes to a bedroom, or maybe a small kitchen, the Echo Dot’s audio satisfies.

Echo Dot with Clock review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you have the $10 to spare, the ‘with Clock’ variety is worth the premium. You’re better off spending $30 for the third-generation Echo Dot than $50 for the non-clock fourth-generation one, in my opinion. You’ll get access to all the best Alexa skills no matter which version you choose, but there’s something endearing about having an alarm clock alongside all those AI-assistant abilities. 

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock review: Alexa

The Amazon Echo Dot with Clock is for more than just seeing the time. Alexa is a smart digital assistant that lays a cooperative foundation for all the best Alexa compatible devices. And when you know how to create an Alexa Routine, you can automate your smart home even further.

Echo Dot with Clock review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Amazon has also made improvements to Alexa Guard, a home security feature that relies on the Echo Dot’s (or any Echo speaker’s) mics to identify when a smoke alarm goes off or glass breaks in your home. If your Echo recognizes something that sounds unusual, it will send you an alert, as well as trigger routines with some of the best DIY home security systems and best smart light bulbs.

This Echo model can be used to set up and control a handful of Bluetooth-equipped smart home gadgets. If you have a larger range of connected devices, the $99 new Amazon Echo with Zigbee built-in might be better for you. 

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock review : Verdict

I can’t help but think it would’ve made more sense for Amazon to offer every Echo Dot with a clock this time around, considering you can turn the display on or off whenever you want. Of course, part of the Echo Dot’s appeal is that sub-$50 price tag. Another $10 is worthwhile if you’re sick of asking Alexa for the status of your timers, but if you’re keeping your smart speaker mostly out of sight, you can skip the fabric-swathed LEDs and pick up the 3rd-generation Echo Dot, which now costs $30 while supplies last.

Echo Dot with Clock review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While this second iteration of the Echo Dot with Clock isn’t much different from the first, the simple addition of a display makes the speaker a better device, not a more complicated one. If only all IoT companies sought to solve problems using the “with Clock” approach, people might be more convinced to raise their home’s IQ. The goal of a connected home is making day-to-day life simpler, and the Echo Dot with Clock’s effortless enhancements to a familiar product — the lackluster bedside alarm clock — continues to do just that.