The Amazon Echo Dot is a puck-shaped smart speaker designed to be used as a smaller alternative to the full-sized Amazon Echo. The original Echo was released in late 2014, and since then, various iterations of the device — from the Echo Dot to the video-enabled Echo Show — have become mainstays in homes around the world. However, with these devices comes privacy concerns, the risk of accidental voice purchasing, and having your children hear things you’d rather they didn’t (like explicit song lyrics).
Enter the Echo Dot Kids Edition. You can now purchase a family-friendly version of the Echo Dot. How exactly does the kids version differ from the standard Echo Dot? We’ll break it down for you.
The same design, but more durable
The Echo Dot Kids Edition, which comes in red, blue, and green, looks very similar to the older Echo Dot models. The third-generation Echo Dot comes in charcoal, heather gray, or sandstone, and it has a fabric design. The Kids Edition does not have the fabric design, rather it’s wrapped in a durable plastic case to help absorb the shock of accidental drops.
Both devices have the same light ring on the top that illuminates when you say Alexa’s wake word, as well as volume up, volume down, mute, and on/off buttons.
The third-generation Echo Dot blends into its environment much easier than the Kids Edition. The Kids Edition looks a bit more like a brightly colored, high-tech toy, while the 3rd-gen Dot has a sleek and modern look.
The Echo Dot Kids Edition measures 3.5 inches in diameter, 1.5 inches tall, and it weighs 6.7 ounces. It has a seven-microphone array for voice detection, and it has a 0.6-inch driver for sound. It also has 3.5mm stereo audio output for use with external speakers, as well as Bluetooth capabilities.
The 3rd-gen Echo Dot is larger. It measures 3.9 inches in diameter, 1.7 inches tall, and it weighs 10.6 ounces. It only has a four-microphone array for voice detection, but it has a larger speaker driver, at 1.6 inches. It has the same 3.5mm stereo audio output for use with external speakers, as well as Bluetooth capabilities.
Kid-friendly features and parental controls
Right out of the box, you can tell the device is tailored toward children because of the bright colors and comic book-style user guide. Alexa is also more friendly in this version, responding with stories and age-appropriate responses, and giving your child positive reinforcement when they say “please” and “thank you.” One of the main differences with the Kids Edition is that it filters out explicit lyrics on Amazon Music, and it disables voice purchasing, news, and adult-themed question-and-answer scenarios.
Alexa also knows a lot of knock-knock jokes and has customizable alarms (including SpongeBob) to entertain its pint-sized users. You can also activate parental controls, which allow you to limit the number of hours your child can use their Echo and which hours Alexa will respond to them (so they can’t goof off when they’re supposed to be sleeping). You can also track and set limits for how much time your child spends accessing entertainment, and filter content based on three different age groups.
The Echo Dot Kids Edition may be more kid-friendly, but it is still an Internet of Things device that is attached to the cloud, so your kids can control smart devices like lights and plugs, but the device will always be vulnerable to hacking (as is also true for the standard Echo Dot). One huge benefit is that the Kids Edition’s features will help make it so you aren’t surprised by boxes of cookies showing up on your front porch or songs filled with F-bombs blasting through your speakers.
The Echo Dot Kids Edition currently retails for $70 (which is $20 more than the 3rd-gen Dot). However, you can often find both devices on sale for less than $40.
The Kids Edition comes with a year of FreeTime Unlimited included, making it a better deal in the long run. FreeTime Unlimited gives you access to thousands of books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games, as well as the parental controls that allow you to monitor how your children are using the device.
You can get FreeTime Unlimited on your existing Echo devices, but you’ll need to pay a fee to do so: $3 per child or $7 per family per month if you have Amazon Prime, or $5 and $10 respectively if you’re not a Prime member. With the included year of FreeTime Unlimited, this could equal around $100 in savings during that first year. After the first year, though, you will need to subscribe to FreeTime Unlimited to continue to get the same features and options you were using before, at the same prices as listed above.
The Kids Edition comes with a two-year, worry-free warranty, compared to a 90-day limited warranty on the Echo Dot 3rd Gen. With the Kids Edition, if your child breaks the device (or it stops working for any reason during those first two years) Amazon will send you a new one for free.
Which device is better?
That depends. For young children who want a smart speaker, the Echo Dot Kids Edition will provide some added peace of mind over the Echo Dot 3rd gen. However, keep in mind that the device’s designation as a “Kids Edition” does not guarantee your child’s safety or privacy. As we discussed above, this is a cloud-connected device, just like the regular Dot smart speaker.
The Kids Edition is also tailored toward younger children as opposed to teens or adults, so that’s also something to consider when choosing between the two devices.
For more information about the Echo Dots Kids Edition, check out our hands-on review.
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