Amazon’s new second-generation Echo Dot is a terrific bundle that offers virtually all the features of the larger Echo, at half the price ($50).

Simply saying “Alexa,” makes the hockey puck-sized Echo Dot ready for action, and it can manage everything from playing music, to answering questions about the weather, to telling a joke, and even hailing an Uber or ordering Dominos hands-free.

“The new far-field microphone system is lifted right out of the larger Echo, and makes the Dot surprisingly good at picking up commands. One of my friends actually set me a 4 a.m. alarm by whispering at Alexa through my window.”

A key difference between the previous-generation Dot, and other Amazon Alexa products, is that the second-generation offers compatibility with an existing sound system, so you can quickly turn your massive system into a smart speaker with a simple aux cord.

The linking and disconnection process from Spotify is easy and straightforward. Friends can quickly link their devices with just a few words, and a new far-field microphone system is a big improvement over the last generation.

It’s lifted right out of the larger Echo, and makes the Dot surprisingly good at picking up commands. One of my friends actually managed to set me an alarm — for 4 a.m. — by whispering at Alexa through my window.

Luckily, you can just yell at the snooze button.

A roommate of mine recently picked one up too, and as we spent an afternoon playing around with them, we both agreed the device was missing one key detail: You can’t sync audio across multiple Dots. This means I couldn’t connect the two in my own household to both play in sync from my Spotify account.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as the device is incredible value for $5o. But without the sync functionality across multiple devices, the Dot loses the opportunity to be a smart home surround system and instead becomes more of a smart alarm clock.

That being said, the library of voice commands is continually growing, and the already impressive capabilities of the Echo Dot will likely continue to improve.

f24_echodot_christianwutz1