How To Set Up that Echo Dot and Keep It Up Too!

Amazon has been on the ball in the race to automate our homes and bring intelligence to our everyday lives.

In a world that has Siri and Cortana in it, the competition is pretty stiff, but there are plenty of compelling reasons to choose Alexa and the Echo speakers she runs on, over the rest. Especially if you are a frequent Amazon customer.

Once you get your new speaker-shaped toy home you can’t just plug it in and go, there is some setting up involved. It’s pretty easy though and you’ll have that cute little button up and running in no time. Ready to feed your crippling Amazon shopping addiction.

So let’s go over the basic steps:

  • Download the Alexa app to a smart device.
  • Sign in to your Amazon account on the app
  • Turn on your Echo
  • Follow the instructions in the Alexa app to connect your Dot to the WiFi
  • Talk to Alexa, also the CIA.

That’s really all there is to it! There are some optional branches and extra things to consider, but Amazon has done a good job of documenting those, so be sure to check their more detailed setup instructions.

You may be especially interested in hooking it up to a Bluetooth or external speaker.

Trouble in Paradise

No, the most frustrating thing about the Echo is certainly not setting it up. It’s when things go wrong and you just can’t figure out why. In all its simplicity the Dot is surprisingly hard to troubleshoot because its main interface is voice. It’s especially hard to figure out when the Echo refuses to connect to anything.

So in order to keep your Echo Dot working, here are some of the most common problems and how to fix them. Hopefully, this will save many windows from flying Dots smashing through them.

My Dot’s Setup Didn’t Auto-start

If your new or newly-reset Echo Dot is not going into the setup automatically, press and hold the “action” button for five seconds. Then go to “settings” in the Alexa app and set up a new device.

It Won’t Play Nice with My WiFi

So your Echo Dot keeps disconnecting from the WiFi? That’s one of the most common complaints about the product. That’s irritating because a Dot that’s not connected to the internet is about as useful as a speedboat on the Autobahn.

Have you tried turning it off and on again? No, seriously. Unplug that little sucker, wait a few seconds and then plug it in again. This resolves most connectivity problems. In fact, rebooting tech items should almost always be your first step.

If you are getting really frequent disconnects, try moving the Dot closer to the router or extending the signal with a WiFi extender as a last resort.

If you have a dual band router it may be worth setting the Dot to only use the 5Ghz band in the Alexa app. The range is shorter, but some other electronics can cause interference in the 2.4Ghz range.

My Dot is Hot!

Yeah, it turns out when you squeeze the guts of a big Echo into the tiny Dot you can’t ventilate it as well. So Dots can apparently get quite hot to the touch. While getting warm is not abnormal, if it gets so hot that you can’t actually touch it for more than a few seconds you may want to hop on the line with Amazon and get a replacement.

This mostly seems to be something that only affects first generation Dots, so newer ones don’t get quite as toasty. That being said, I’ve seen people suggest things like candle stands or little 3D-printed risers help the Dot ventilate itself better.

Alexa is a Bit Deaf

It happens to the best of us, sometimes we can’t hear all that well. Your Dot may sometimes respond to nothing short of a shout. Unplugging and replugging may help, but sometimes it’s just the weird acoustics of its placement. So try moving it around for a better porting of sound in the room.

Some people have claimed that the volume ring also controls the mic input volume, but I can’t find any evidence that this is true, so turning up the volume on the ring is unlikely to help the mic pick things up more easily.

Alexa is not Deaf Enough

The other issue is the opposite: Alexa responds to things that she shouldn’t, like TV shows. There are a few ways to mitigate this particular irritation.

For one, make sure to follow Amazon’s recommendations and put the Dot in a central location away from hard wall surfaces. It also makes sense not to put it directly in front of the speaker from another device such as a TV.

The Dot also has a voice training function, to make it less likely that it will respond to voices it’s not supposed to. Train Alexa to recognize your voice and it will work more reliably.

As a last resort, why not change the wake word from “Alexa” to one of the two alternatives. Namely “Echo” and “Amazon”. Perhaps at some point, Amazon will allow for custom wake words, so I can finally live out my fantasy of being Captain Picard by saying “Computer”.

The Last Resort: When You Have to Nuke It From Orbit

Sometimes things are just so buggy that it’s not worth the aggravation of looking for the problem. So as a last resort you can simply wipe the slate clean and start all over again with a fresh Dot experience.

On first-gen Dots, you need to take something like a paperclip or pin to activate the reset switch. Newer models use a button combo:

  1. Press and hold mute and volume down
  2. The ring will turn orange, keep holding them down for about 20 seconds
  3. The ring will turn blue
  4. You’re done!

Now you can go back to the top of the article and follow the setup instructions again!

Related: Echo Dot Accessories

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