This little $50 puck is the amazon echo dot.
And just by putting it in a central location of your home, you can make everything a whole lot smarter.
Let me show you how.
This video is part of the Hacks @Home series sponsored by AT&T fiber.
The CNET smart home is powered by AT&T fiber.
Let's get started with the echo dot, you can just talk to it and control any number of smart home devices with a simple voice command.
And so can your spouse and your kids.
No need to share access with an app or anything like that.
It's like an easy button for your connected gadgets.
Let's walk through the setup then I'll show you how to use it as a control center for your smartphone.
If you have any echo devices, please mute those now.
I'm going to be saying the name of Amazon smart assistant shortly which acts as a wake word and might inadvertently wake up your smartphone Thankfully, setup is super simple.
First, pick a good spot for your smart speaker.
The best choice is a central gathering area like a kitchen or a living room.
And this is the most complicated part, so brace yourself.
Plug it in.
Okay, yeah, that was pretty tough.
You'll also need to download the app on your smartphone.
Okay, I'm gonna say the name of Amazon's assistant.
Now, last chance to mute your speakers, the apps called Amazon Alexa.
It's free and available for iPhones and Android.
Open the app and it will walk you through creating an account or logging in.
If you already have one set up for Amazon.
Your amazon prime account info will work.
Once the dot is plugged in, wait until you see an orange light spinning around the rim.
Then open the app tap the menu button in the upper left.
Add a device, tap Amazon echo dot if you just bought it.
It's a third generation dot select the top box Confirm that you see the orange light, then the apple connect to the dot and walk you the rest of the steps.
You can name the device during the setup.
I recommend naming it by the room so I call this one family room dot.
If you start expanding your smart home, you'll be happy to have your simple naming system to expand on The Alexa app also lets you create groups so you can put all future smart home kitchen or living room devices under the same umbrella and control them all at once with a simple command.
And there we go.
It's all set up.
And you don't even need other smart home devices to start using.
Alexa, where can I get good Thai food Alexa, what's the weather this weekend?
You can sync your calendar, you can play games, you can ask random trivia questions.
Alexa can tell you jokes.
They're pretty much all terrible, but she can do it, and it's a speaker.
You can play music, but that doesn't sound great on its own, but it's fine for background listening You can also connect it to your own system with Bluetooth or a 3.5 millimeter cable.
Then you have voice controlled music streaming on whatever device you want.
Alexa is obviously compatible with Amazon's music service, but it also works with popular services like Spotify and Pandora.
So that that is pretty awesome even without Smart Home gadgets, but as you add other devices, it becomes a cornerstone of your connected home.
Alexa, turn on the lights.
Alexa, turn on the great room fan.
Alexa, open the shades.
At this point Amazon works with 10s of thousands of gadgets.
From thousands of different companies, whether you want smart lights or lacks or cameras or thermostats, you'll be able to find options that work with Alexa.
After you have your new device set up, you can often just say Alexa discover devices.
Your smart speaker will usually take care of singing for you.
And then you can use the app to name it and add it to groups.
You might need to add a skill for your device to work which you can do with the same setup menu.
You can also search for your new device by type in that menu, get your device synced and you'll be able to control it with a simple.
A smart speaker is a great way to get started with a smartphone.
Get your setup and you'll be that much closer to living in a futuristic smart home that responds to your voice.