You already know whether you’re an Amazon Echo type person. If so, you’re probably looking at one right now, thinking “should I upgrade that thing or is it pointless?” Probably the latter — unless you also have Amazon’s Eero mesh Wi-Fi product, in which case: it’s probably still pointless, unless it’s pretty old. In which case, you can get a new or lightly used Dot that will now act as a Wi-Fi range extender.
The new Dot and other Echo products were announced at Amazon’s hardware event today; the Dot has been lightly redesigned with a better speaker and a couple monster-themed prints for the ones that go in the kids’ room.
No one really expects such a small device to offer anything but serviceable sound, so that part of the upgrade isn’t particularly notable. But the next piece is interesting: the latest Dot will automatically connect to your Eero network and extend its range. The 4th-gen Dots and spherical Echo will also gain this ability after a software update soon. (To be clear, there’s a simple setup process, but it will work as part of the network.)
It won’t push the coverage as far as a dedicated router, but there are tricks that a stationary, powered transceiver can do with Wi-Fi that a phone or laptop can’t, and that means it can act as a repeater even when signal is weak. Then it can pass that signal on to your other devices.
We haven’t had a chance to test this, though we know the Eero is probably the leading consumer mesh Wi-Fi brand and it’s unlikely Amazon would half-ass this, even with the cheapest Echo.
You can probably expect lots more devices to offer “Eero Built-in,” as it seems to be a thing now, having started with the Ring Alarm Pro. Don’t all rush out to buy Echo Dots as cheap-ish ($50) wireless extenders.