The Echo Dot is a great device, but Anker’s Eufy Genie ($35) aims to dethrone it with the same Alexa-based system and a $15 cheaper price tag (even more when it’s on sale). But is it worth saving a few bucks to get a third-party Echo device in the first place?
Amazon allows any company to bake Alexa into their devices, and Anker’s Eufy Genie does exactly that. It isn’t the only direct competitor to the “real” Echo, but it’s one of the most popular options, and certainly the most well-reviewed one on Amazon currently. And while it aims to compete with the Echo Dot, it does have some disadvantages compared to Amazon’s own voice-activated virtual assistant.
There’s No Far-Field Microphone Array
Amazon’s Echo devices come with an insane seven-microphone setup that allows an Echo to hear you from across the room in any direction, making it so that you don’t necessarily have to be right next to the device in order to say a voice command.
The Eufy Genie doesn’t have this, but it does at least come with a two-microphone setup that Anker claims to still offer 360-degree voice recognition.
We reckon it still works pretty well in smaller spaces where even Amazon’s seven-mic setup would probably be overkill, but if your current Echo sometimes has trouble hearing you, the Eufy Genie probably won’t be any better.
It Doesn’t Do Calling, Messaging, or Drop In
Amazon recently added calling and messaging, as well as Drop In, to the Echo, which allows you to call other Echo devices without the other end having to answer—essentially using your Echo as an intercom.
All three of these features are not supported by the Eufy Genie. This probably isn’t a huge deal for most Alexa users, since you can only call and message other Alexa devices in the first place (rather than actually calling or messaging a phone number), but it’s still something that’s lacking with this third-party Echo device.
You Can’t Change the Wake Word
If you don’t want to use “Alexa” as the wake word for your Echo, you can change it to either Amazon, Echo, or Computer. However, the Eufy Genie requires that you use “Alexa”.
We’re not exactly sure why this is, but we can definitely see this being a huge downside for some households, especially if you know someone named Alexa, which would get confusing pretty quickly.
It Doesn’t Support Echo Spatial Perception
Thanks to a recent firmware update, Echo devices are able to know which device you’re closest to if you have multiple Echos in your house. For example, if two of your Echo devices both hear you, they’ll figure out which one you’re closest to and eliminate the own that’s farthest away. That way they both won’t answer you and create a confusing mess.
Unfortunately, the Eufy Genie doesn’t support this feature, so if you’re trying to talk to your Echo that’s in your kitchen, but your Eufy Genie also hears you, it will respond no matter what.
There’s No Bluetooth Support
Both the Eufy Genie and the Echo Dot comes with a 3.5mm audio output jack, allowing you to connect a larger speaker to the device in order to get better sound quality from music. This is great and all, but the Echo Dot also comes with Bluetooth, which lets you skip the audio cable and connect Bluetooth speakers wirelessly.
Bluetooth doesn’t come with the Eufy Genie, though, so you’re stuck using an audio cable. I’m sure this was a cost-cutting maneuver in order to keep the Genie at a lower price than the Echo Dot, but Bluetooth is one feature that Echo Dot users seem to love.
The Genie May Be Cheaper, but Echo Dots Are Really Cheap to Buy Used
Of course, even with these downsides, the Eufy Genie can still do a lot of the same things that any other Echo device can do. It can control your smarthome devices and respond to pretty much any basic command.
But in the end, $35 for the Eufy Genie isn’t that crazy of deal, especially considering it’s missing some really good features. Plus, you can get often the Echo Dot for about the same price when it’s on sale. So the savings are pretty negligible for an objectively weaker device.
Here’s the even bigger kicker: Sites like eBay, Craigslist, and OfferUp are littered with new or gently-used Echos and Echo Dots for even less. It seems a lot of people are buying these, then not really knowing what to do with them (hint: smarthome). So they turn around and sell them for $35 used (or probably less if you negotiate). You’re much better off grabbing one of these—it’s the cheapest way to get the best Alexa experience.