Amazon is releasing a child-friendly, Alexa-powered smart speaker, called the Echo Dot Kids Edition. It costs more than the regular Echo Dot, but there are a few notable differences between the two speakers. Here's a breakdown of what you get for the money.
How is it different from the regular Echo Dot?
The Kids Edition comes with a case — available in blue, red or green — that helps protect the speaker from spills. It also has a two-year warranty.
Apart from hardware differences, the Kids Edition also comes with a free one-year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which includes educational content, more than 300 child-friendly Audible books, ad-free radio stations and Alexa skills for kids. After the year is up, FreeTime Unlimited costs $2.99 per month for Amazon Prime members.
A free version of FreeTime also includes a number of parental controls, such as the ability to block explicit songs from Amazon Music (other music services will be added later), set time limits for when kids can use Alexa and review kids' activity.
Other features include Magic Word, which encourages children to say "please" when talking to Alexa; age-appropriate responses to statements such as "Alexa, I'm bored"; and answers to educational questions.
Will it sound any better than the Echo Dot?
Probably not. When it comes to audio, the Echo Dot is pretty weak, and the Kids Edition doesn't appear to be any different in that regard.
Can I set up Alexa time limits for my kids?
Yes. Using FreeTime, you can specify times on an Echo device for when Alexa will not respond to your child's commands. However, when time limits are in effect, you won't be able to use Alexa on that particular device, either.
Can I call my kids down to dinner?
Yes. As with other Alexa devices, the Kids Edition has Amazon's Drop-In feature as well as Alexa announcements, so you can use one Alexa device to broadcast a message to all others in your house. The one limitation with the Kids Edition is that it does not accept any drop-ins, calls or messages from Alexa devices outside your home.
Will it record my child's voice?
Like all other Alexa devices, the Kids Edition records every interaction with your child. However, as with other Alexa devices, you can review and delete the recordings.
Can I get these features on an Echo Dot I already own?
Yes. Beginning May 9, you will be able to enable FreeTime (both the free and paid versions) on other Echo devices. However, it currently works on just the Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Plus, and not on the Echo Show, Echo Spot or Fire TV.
Does FreeTime work on third-party Alexa devices?
As of now, no.
How much does the Echo Dot Kids Edition cost?
The Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition costs $79; that's a $30 premium over the regular Echo Dot. After the first year, Amazon FreeTime Unlimited costs $2.99 per month.
When will it be available?
The Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition goes on sale on May 9, but you can preorder it today.