With the latest Amazon Echo updates, Google’s Nest Speakers have a serious catch-up

The Nest Audio is a great little unit, but the new Echo Dot really puts ‘smart’ into a smart speaker


When Nest Audio was released in 2020, I gave it a flattering review. Back then, in the context of the other Assistant-equipped smart speakers on the market, I couldn’t really complain too much: it was a better version of the Google Home speaker it replaced, with a modern look and great sound. size and was offered at a very reasonable price of $ 99- $ 30 cheaper than its predecessor at launch. To this day, it is one of our favorite smart speakers. But at today’s device and service event, Amazon announced new versions of the Echo Dot speakers – and upgrades to existing devices – which make me question my entire Google-based smart home setup.

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The new Echo Dot is no different from the old version, but it hides some significant improvements under the hood. The $ 50 speaker can be used as a Wi-Fi range extender for compatible Eero configurations – a big achievement considering the Eero 6 discrete extenders retail for $ 79 apiece. The dot is not as effective as the dedicated Eero extender – the speaker can purportedly cover 1,000 square feet of Wi-Fi while the extender can handle 1,500 – but nonetheless the new feature represents a huge added value for households with Eero routers. Moreover, this feature is coming soon to existing 4th generation Echo and Echo Dot speakers thanks to a software update.

Source: Amazon


Echo Dot with fifth generation clock.

In the near future, we expect an updated Nest Wifi system from Google; Leaks tell us it will start at $ 200 and will offer 6E Wi-Fi support. As a smart home nerd with tons of stuff from Google, this is appealing to me, but not as exciting as if the Google speakers I already have too many could act as Wi-Fi points on the Nest mesh network. If my Nest speakers were newer Echo speaker models, tossing in one $ 75 Eero router could bathe my home in great full Wi-Fi coverage. If you believe the early information, getting that kind of coverage from the new Nest routers – by purchasing a bundle of three – would make me $ 400. For such money, I can earn with uneven coverage on the second floor.

The fifth-generation dot also has a built-in thermometer that can be used to trigger Alexa routines when the room temperature reaches a certain threshold. Amazon used the example of automatically turning on the fan when it gets too hot, but the company’s $ 60 smart thermostat can also be integrated into routines – meaning that unless Amazon blocks the feature, the Echo Dot speakers in your home can work as temperature sensors, they help to control HVAC in greater detail. Nest speakers that are unable to sense temperature obviously don’t offer a similar experience. Google sells remote temperature sensors for its Nest thermostats, but these aren’t even compatible with the latest model.


The latest Nest thermostat.

As the Nest Mini is approaching its third birthday and the Google Home Max is long gone, new smart speakers from Google are likely to be coming soon – the company has an upcoming hardware event soon, though it hasn’t said it will include any updates smart speakers. Since Amazon relies so heavily on the Echo Dot’s place in its larger connected home, I really hope Google has similar surprises for us. Otherwise, I might have to make the Big Switch from an Assistant-based smart home to a more Alexa-oriented setup – and I doubt I’m alone in that sentiment.

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