Vaux Makes the Echo Dot the Device Amazon Should Have Made

I love the Echo series of products from Amazon. Being able to just talk to Alexa is the stuff I dreamed of as a kid. It's as close as the average person can get to being Tony Stark of Iron Man. That said, Amazon has some surprising gaps in the Echo (and Tap) product line. The are now have four devices, the Echo, the Echo Dot, the Tap, and the Echo Look. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The models with Echo in their name allow you to just say "Alexa" and ask a question or issue a command. It's magical.

Related: Amazon Echo Review

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The full-size Echo has good sound, but is not battery operated and is expensive at about $180. The small Echo Dot is about the size of a hockey puck, and has an inferior speaker, which is fine for voice but not music, and comes at a much lower price at under $50. In between those models, there is the Tap, which adds battery capability, but removes the "always on" feature. You have to tap the Alexa button to ask a question. Recently, Amazon added a higher-end model that adds a camera. In short, there's no perfect Echo device with both always-on and battery capabilities.

Vaux

That's where the Vaux ($49.99) from Ninety 7 comes in. The Echo Dot sits snuggly in the top of the Vaux, and plugs in via the integrated audio jack and microUSB power cable. It's a clean look that you would think Amazon had in mind when they made the Echo Dot. The Vaux doesn't include a power cable of its own, as you are expected to use the one that shipped with your Dot. This is fine as I always end up with extra microUSB cables anyway.

The Vaux offers great sound, comparable to the high-end Amazon Echo. But the big benefit is the battery capability. I love that I can just take my Echo Dot plus Vaux anywhere and continue to use the Alexa feature, as long as I stay in Wi-Fi range. I can use the Vaux on the patio, and leverage Amazon Music with the improved speaker.

The Vaux is available in black or "Ash" which matches the white Echo Dot. It would be nice to see some more color choices though. I really like the Vaux and it has already helped me win an award! I participated in the NASA Space Apps Challenge, a worldwide hackathon challenging teams to build an app or really anything that leverages NASA data and offers value. I started a team called Sun Spot that made a talking beach report using the Alexa Skills capability. The battery capability of the Vaux allowed us to use and test the feature anywhere, and make a video without worrying about finding a power outlet. Check it out here:

Pros

  • Great sound
  • Battery capability
  • Black or white (ash)
  • Affordable
  • Integrated cables

Cons

  • More color choices would be nice

Final Verdict

If you are looking for an accessory, look no further. The Vaux from Ninety 7 should meet your needs. 

 

 

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Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.