Anker's Echo Dot-alike is $20 cheaper -- but what do you give up in return? Plus: Lifetime-warranty MFi-certified Lightning cables for six bucks apiece!
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I'm on record as saying the Amazon Echo Dot is one of my favorite gadgets. Of course, what once seemed like a bargain at $50 now feels just a little pricey. After all, it's just a small speaker with a nosy microphone and built-in software (in the form of smart assistant Alexa).
And now competitors are getting in on the act. For a limited time, and while supplies last, Anker brand Eufy is offering the Eufy Genie smart speaker with Alexa for $29.70, shipped. It looks -- and operates -- an awful lot like an Echo Dot, but with a significantly lower price.
Actually, the Genie looks a bit better than the Dot; less like a hockey puck and more like a modern-day smart appliance. It's glossy and a bit curvy on the sides and has the Dot's telltale blue LED ring on top.
And thanks to the presence of Amazon's Alexa, it performs just like a Dot. Pair it with your home Wi-Fi network, then ask it questions, give it commands and so on.
OK, so, no-brainer, right? An Echo Dot for $20 less than an Echo Dot. Well, hang on, let's talk about the speaker: Does the Genie's sound any better than the Dot's, which is notably anemic for listening to music?
CNET hasn't reviewed the Genie, and the smattering of other reviews I've read were surprisingly mum on the subject of audio quality. My take: It's still a small device, so it's not going to deliver big sound. Duh.
OK, but as with the Dot, you can just connect a bigger speaker, right? Yes and no: The Genie has a 3.5mm audio-out jack, but does not have Bluetooth.
That's going to be the deal-breaker for some buyers, as it does limit your speaker-pairing options. Of course, some Bluetooth speakers -- notably those that automatically switch off after a period of inactivity -- don't work well with the Dot anyway, so the plug-in option isn't unthinkable.
What's more, some folks don't care about music. If, for example, you're just looking for a smart speaker for your nightstand -- and it's kind of the ultimate nightstand accessory, if you ask me -- why not spend $30 instead of $50?
I'm hoping to get one of these in for review so I can provide more detailed coverage the next time this deal rolls around. (The Genie normally sells for $35.) In the meantime, what are your thoughts on this versus Dot?
Bonus deal: Seems like I never have enough Lightning cables. Some get "lost" (meaning my family takes them), others just wear out after years of abuse. So I like to stock up when they're cheap.
Like today: Syncwire has 3.3-foot MFi-certified Lightning cables for $5.99 when you apply promo code CNET2017 at checkout. Cheapskate exclusive! (Civilians get only 10 percent off when they buy two.) Amazingly, these come with a lifetime warranty.
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