5 inexpensive Bluetooth speakers to pair with your Echo Dot
It's easy math: A Dot plus one of these speakers equals better sound than you'll get from the full-size Echo, and for less money.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Amazon's second-generation Echo Dot has arrived, and by all accounts it's a winner. CNET's Ry Crist awarded it an Editors' Choice plus a very rare 9.5 rating.
Of course, as with the original Dot, there's just one small issue: the small built-in speaker, which is fine for listening to Alexa tell you the weather or even play a podcast. But for music? Nah, no, you need an external speaker.
More good news? You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars for good, Dot-savvy sound. Bluetooth speakers these days come in countless shapes and sizes, and there are some surprisingly good ones priced below $100. In fact, there are some surprisingly good ones priced below $50 as well. Here are five speakers that would make excellent companions for your "gal Alexa."
Update 10/31/16:When choosing any speaker to pair with your Echo Dot, make sure it doesn't automatically turn off after a period of inactivity (which some portable speakers do, even when plugged in). According to readers, that appears to be an issue with at least two of the models listed below, the Anker SoundCore and Sony SRS-X5. Another possible workaround is using an audio cable instead of Bluetooth, as a wired connection will sometimes override the auto-off feature.
I'm not saying you can end your search right here, but the Anker SoundCore has pretty much everything a person could want in a Bluetooth speaker. Actually, its big claim to fame is battery life -- not a huge deal for Dot users -- but the real appeal is price, $35.99.
Small price equals small sound, right? Not according to the 2,000-plus buyers who collectively rated it 4.6 stars out of 5. Think that rating is artificially inflated? I suspected that as well, but Fakespot reveals the vast majority of those reviews are legit.
So, basically, this simple black brick sounds great and sells for less than half of many a competing speaker (see below). Plus, it comes with an 18-month warranty, a little better than most. What's not to like?
JBL Flip 3
The third time's the charm. JBL's Flip 3 speaker looks like an oversize pill, sounds amazing for its size and enjoys stellar ratings from users and reviewers alike. CNET gave it an 8.1, while nearly 2,000 Amazon buyers rated it 4.5 stars out of 5.
Why all the love? In addition to its cute design and great sound, the Flip 3 runs for up to 10 hours on a charge -- not a huge selling point for Dot users, as it would probably mostly stay plugged in anyway. It's also splash-proof in case you want to park it near the tub.
The speaker lists for around $100, but hit up Amazon to find refurbs selling for a little less than $70.
An oldie but goody, Sony's big black slab debuted waaaay back in 2014 -- but with age comes a lower price. It no longer sells for $200, but instead runs around $95 at the likes of Amazon and Walmart.
I'll let CNET's David Carnoy sum up the highlights: "For a relatively compact wireless speaker, the simple but classy-looking Sony SRS-X5 offers excellent sound with strong bass. It has built-in speakerphone functionality, a USB charging port (to charge your smartphone), NFC tap-to-pair technology, and eight hours of battery life." Verdict: an 8.0 rating.
And I think its understated looks make it a good match for the fairly understated Echo Dot, especially if you choose the black version of the latter.
Urge Basics Cuatro
I included the Cuatro here for one simple reason: it looks cool, with a sweet hole-patterned front grill in your choice of five colors. Actually, there's a second reason: it sells for just $19.99. Wait, I thought of another one. It supports Bluetooth 4.0, so you can pair a second device -- your phone or tablet -- for those times when you want to stream from something other than the Dot.
Perhaps the most important reason of all: Its low price belies its sound quality, which, according to most of the 500-plus Amazon reviewers, is top-notch.
Much like the Dot itself, the UE Roll is cute, compact and round. Unlike the Dot, it's also colorful (available in a variety of eye-catching styles) and waterproof. A built-in bungee cord lets you hang the speaker just about anywhere -- including, say, your shower. ("Alexa, play my rub-a-dub-dub playlist.")