Amazon's Echo Dot, a hands-free voice-controlled Alexa-enabled device, has enjoyed pretty rave reviews upon its release, simply because the device, a minute puck-shaped plaything, is far more capable than what its size suggests.
Yes, the tiny flat cylinder sports Amazon's proprietary voice-enabled virtual assistant Alexa, which is by and large its headline feature. It hears its owners, even when outputting loud music from its speakers, and it does a heck of a job doing it. Coupled with Alexa skills and pairable smart devices, the Echo Dot is shaping up to be the definitive entry point for users flirting with every "smart" prefix to compatible devices.
Here, we'll take a look at some of the best to marry Amazon's Alexa with.
The Nucleus Intercom is a family communications device that wirelessly connects family members abroad or those just three doors down the hall. With it, users can make voice or video calls over Wi-Fi or ethernet. To make sure that the device can be instantly operated by people with differing ages, Nucleus designed the software to be as user-friendly as much as possible so that even children and grandparents can start using it without a hitch.
Because the Nucleus Intercom is Alexa-enabled, users can just start speaking to it to listen to songs, hear the latest news, check the weather, or even control smart home devices. The device rocks a 9-inch screen, and is embedded with stereo speakers for optimum clarity. The device can also be wall-mounted or perched on top of a table.
The Nucleus Intercom costs $210.20 on Amazon.
The Triby, made by Invoxia, is a portable Alexa-enabled speaker that can be readily stuck on a fridge or any metallic surface via magnets. For $199, it can perform a number of usual smart speaker basics: control smart home devices, listen to music, pull information from Wikipedia, set alarms, ask for the latest news, request for an Uber ride, and a laundry list of others.
The device itself is embedded with an array of microphones and In Vivo Acoustic technology that lets it listen to commands made far-field, even when music from its speakers is blasting.
The Triby also comes with an e-ink display, with a physical message tag sticking out of the device's side as a way to notify onlookers that there's an unread message. There's even a number of extra functions via the companion app for either iOS or Android.
The Invoxia Triby costs $123.72 on Amazon.
Samsung SmartThings Hub
Before customers purchase all sorts of smart home devices thinking that they'll readily support Alexa, they must be properly informed about hub requirements. Most of the integrations from smart home devices will require a smart hub that acts as a middleman between gadgets and voice control functionality.
It's a little cumbersome, sure, since Alexa devices currently don't come with appropriate radios to communicate directly with the smart home devices, but this is a fairly small gripe easily straightened out by Samsung's SmartThings Hub.
SmartThings is one of the most excellent and robust smart home ecosystems in the market right now, given that a lot of devices directly support it out of the box. With Alexa in tow, users can control just about any smart home device that can be turned on, off, open, or closed: lights, garage doors, locks, lamps, switches, air vents, and even thermostats.
The Samsung SmartThings Hub is a crucial centerpiece for those gearing up for a smart home makeover. It costs $74.99 on Amazon.
HomeSeer Home Controllers
Like the SmartThings Hub, HomeSeer Home Controllers — five in all — are also hubs that control smart home devices, but the difference is HomeSeer is more geared for automation tasks. For brevity's sake, let's just say that HomeSeer's home controllers can control every type of smart home device, but only compatible brands, needless to say.
Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit
Philips is a consummate smart bulb manufacturer, and it's increasingly becoming the choice brand for smart bulbs in general. Its Hue White Bulbs are attractively affordable without bumping off functions. The Starter Kit works with Siri and Alexa for voice control options, allowing homeowners to turn the light on or off by virtue of voice commands.
The Philips Hue White Starter Kit costs $69.99 on Amazon.
Honeywell Lyric Thermostat
Not to be outdone in the field of smart connected devices, age-old thermostat manufacturer Honeywell also offers a range of smart thermostats that can be paired to a hub, one of which is the Honeywell Lyric Thermostat. It works with Apple HomeKit and Alexa so users can control the temperature and other automation features.
The Honeywell Lyric Thermostat costs $129.99 on Amazon.
Alexa can also complement automotive technology, and one of the finest examples of this is Automatic, a tiny device that connects to a car's diagnostic port to relay driving data such as fuel levels, engine light codes, and more to a smartphone via Bluetooth. But with Alexa, the user can simply ask Automatic to get information on fuel, trips, or where the car is parked using voice commands.
Automatic is currently on sale, retailing for $109.95 instead of its regular price of $129.95.
Own any stellar Alexa-enabled devices not on this list? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!