Amazon’s second-generation Echo Dot ($50) is essentially an Echo minus the larger device’s rich-sounding speaker. Now, a company called Ninety7 is giving Echo Dot the speaker that Amazon didn’t provide.
Vaux is an attractive, $50 battery-powered speaker/docking station specifically for Echo Dot. Drop your Alexa-enabled Echo Dot into the top of the speaker, connect the two using Vaux’s built-in microUSB and 3.5mm aux input cables, and away you go.
Echo Dot is now portable, and it sounds better. To my untrained ears, Vaux’s audio is noticeably richer than the Echo Dot’s tiny built-in speaker. But it doesn’t compare to the full-sized Echo. And I’d say it’s just a tiny bit less impressive than Amazon’s Tap, which is also a portable, Alexa-enabled speaker.
(In a firmware upgrade, Amazon recently added to Tap the capability to summon Alexa using your voice. Initially, you had to ‘tap’ a microphone button.)
Vaux comes in ‘carbon’ (black) or ‘ash’ (white) to match your Echo Dot’s colors. But honestly, it doesn’t matter which color you buy. Once you insert Echo Dot into Vaux, all you’ll see of Amazon’s device are its top buttons and the ring, which illuminates when you talk to Echo Dot.
If you already own an Echo Dot and would like to give it portability and better sound, Vaux is worth considering. The total cost of an Echo Dot and Vaux speaker: $100.
However, if you’ve yet to purchase an Echo Dot, then you might want Amazon Tap instead. Though it costs $130, Tap offers some advantages over Vaux.
Echo Dot is lighter, at 16.6 ounces. Vaux weighs 1.8 pounds.
Echo Dot is more compact, at 6.3 inches tall and about 2.6 inches in diameter. By comparison, Vaux is 6.4 inches tall and 4.2 inches in diameter.
Echo Dot’s battery life is longer, providing up to nine hours of continuous playback, according to Amazon. Vaux’s battery goes for about six hours, according to Ninety7.
Keep in mind that, unlike some portable wireless speakers, Vaux isn’t waterproof or water-resistant. Also, it requires a Wi-Fi connection to work, so taking it on the road may prove problematic.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.