I tend to be the gadget guy at the holiday parties and, now that Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is on the horizon, that means I’m getting asked a lot of questions. One that keeps cropping up centers around the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot:

“Do I need an Amazon Echo to buy the cheaper Amazon Echo Dot?”

The answer, as I’ve already explained to two separate parties, is no! For some reason, and perhaps this is Amazon’s fault in its marketing, a couple of individuals I’ve spoken to have believed that the Amazon Echo Dot is an extension of the Amazon Echo, a sort of add-on/companion product that only works if you’ve purchased the more expensive Amazon Echo. This simply isn’t the case and, indeed, I recommend most people start with the Amazon Echo Dot to see if they even like Alexa and the services she provides.

The $49.99 Echo Dot offers every single function included in the $179.99 Amazon Echo. Yes, it has a built-in speaker, though it’s not quite as good as the one in the full-sized Echo. It does, however, have a 3.5mm headphone jack for connecting your own high-quality speaker should you choose to do so.

It has volume controls, a high-quality microphone for understanding voice queries, wireless connectivity and more. It works with all of the same extensions available to the Echo, which means you can use the cheaper Echo Dot for controlling your lights, playing Spotify tunes, listening to podcasts, checking in on the latest CNBC headlines or playing simple voice-based games.

It is true, however, that the Echo Dot is perfect for adding in various rooms throughout the house. In fact, I have one in my living room, another by my bed and a third in my office. It would be far too expensive to spread Alexa’s capabilities around my house if I had to buy the full-priced and full-sized Amazon Echo.

If you still haven’t purchased an Amazon Echo, or are looking for affordable holiday gift ideas for loved ones, you really can’t go wrong with the Amazon Echo Dot. Again, it’s not simply a tack-on product for the more expensive Amazon Echo, but its own standalone product that works quite well; it just doesn’t have as good of a speaker (though it does have a speaker.)

See at Amazon

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