While Echo devices have been built for the whole family to use around the house, they’ve always felt geared toward adults. That’s why Amazon has announced a new line of Echo Dots for kids.
The Echo Dot Kid Edition is from a technological standpoint, indistinguishable from the current Echo Dot. It uses the same seven far-field microphones for voice commands and the same low-grade speaker we discuss in our Echo Dot review. The buttons on top are identical and it can connect via Bluetooth or 3.5mm audio jack to an external speaker or headphone.
The only physical difference you’ll see in Kids Edition is in it’s kid-friendly case. This case currently comes in blue, green, and red and looks to have some protective padding to protect it from falls.
But the colorful case isn’t the selling point here, it’s the software that comes with it. Each new Echo Dot Kids Edition comes with a free year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. That’s a $36 value for Prime Members. So with the Kids Dot costing $79.99, it’s around a $6 savings.
For those unfamiliar with Freetime Unlimited, it’s Amazon’s service aimed at providing kid-friendly content with parental oversights. The service promises to offer access to hundreds of hours of fun and educational content. Ad-free radio stations and playlists catered to their age range. Hundreds of Audible.com kids books as well as premium Alexa skills from Disney, National Geographic, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon that can’t be found through the standard skills menu.
On the other end of the equation are a set of controls for parents to use. You can set daily limits for use, review their activity, and even turn off the device remotely. Voice shopping is turned off and Amazon will automatically filter out explicit songs through their Amazon Music service.
There are of course privacy concerns related to giving a child access to a voice-activated smart speaker. Do we feel comfortable with a major company building a consumer profile on our child at such an early age? Are we certain we want a microphone in our child’s room? Amazon has made it clear that they will not share user information with developers of FreeTime specific skills.
Besides the 1-year of Freetime Unlimited and the kid-friendly case, you’ll also receive a 2-year worry-free guarantee (as opposed to the Echo Dots 90-day limited warranty). That means they’ll fix your broken Dot with no questions asked.
The Echo Dot Kids Edition will be released on May 9th for $79.99. WiseDweller will have a full review in the near future.