echo-dotWithout a doubt, one of the hottest Christmas presents—if not the hottest—this year is going to be the Echo Dot. My wife and I have two (Amazon sent us one and we loved it so much we bought another to put in the baby’s room).

Basically, Echo Dot is your (virtual) assistant who’s willing to work for a one-time fee of $49 (unless you snagged one on Cyber Monday for $39). She’s a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart-home devices, and provide information like weather, news, traffic, and more.

You can connect Echo Dot to speakers or headphones through Bluetooth, but we just use her built-in speaker, and that’s plenty. I can’t tell you how convenient she is when you’re holding a baby or just don’t want to get out off the couch to turn the lights on or the heat up. I can say, “Alexa turn the thermostat to 73º” or “turn the Christmas tree lights on” and voila: She does it.

Of course, it takes a little bit of time to pair your devices, but it’s not difficult. We connected her to WeMo and Nest so we can control the lights and thermostat in any room. I know other people that use her to control garage doors or even sprinklers. And you don’t have to shout to get her attention because she has seven microphones so she can hear you from across the room—even in a noisy room or when the music or TV is on.

Bottom line: The Echo Dot really awesome and her ability is pretty surreal. Now if only I could take her with me on trips and get her to do everything she does at home. I would pay double!

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