People go on digital detoxes. I have decided to go the other way! I vowed to myself that I’ll spend a whole week basing a majority of my interactions at home and during work with a smart speaker - the new Amazon Echo Pop. Here’s how my digital buddy for a week fared. 

Good Morning

Waking up has always been a grouchy affair. The heartbreak of leaving sound slumber behind is lessened by some Luduvico Einaudi wafting gently from my bedside this Thursday morning. I’d reminded my digital butler, the 4th gen Amazon Echo Pop to sing me awake to yet another day. For its size, the Echo Pop sings quite loudly, with its front-facing directional speaker. Sure, it’s no Marshall or even a JBL but it suffices as a bedside crooning buddy. 

I also have it handy as I try to finish this article, while it tries its best to deliver heavy bass bits from Daechwita by Agust D, but sounds a lil’ more distorted at high volumes than I’d have liked. 

As the day goes on

I find the minimalist design of the smart speaker quite appealing. It has only three physical buttons - volume up, down and mute. A long-press on the mute button also activates a low power mode to thus saving energy during non-usage time. Hidden away at the rear is the power plug where the 15-watt power brick connects via an old-school jack. The Alexa app on my phone guides me through the setup process and I’m soon hooking up my light switches at home, and setting up routines for the morning. The device is also compatible with smart plugs allowing users to turn on/off compatible devices such as washing machines.

As feature-heavy as the Alexa app and the Echo Dot is, I wish the app was more intuitive as well as streamlined. I can’t imagine the slightly non-tech-savvy users enjoying navigating the app and enabling and disabling the functions that really make for a pleasant Echo Dot experience. 

End the day

Amazon urges parents to ask Alexa to play bedtime stories and nursery for their kids. Like a curious child, I could also ask Alex questions like, “Alexa, why is adulting so hard?” to which she says, “Adulting is hard because there’s just so much to be done in a single day.” And I have to admit the Echo Pop manages to do a whole bunch of things round the clock, if you put in the effort to program it well from the get go. The command execution ranges from informative to sometimes confounding and everything  in between but if you want basic things done, it will do it seamlessly.

Price - 4,999

Pros - Cute, compact design, alert microphone

Cons - Distorted at high volumes, app can be glitchy at times