Amazon still has not made it’s Echo series of smart speaker available in Canada so I am reviewing this new gadget from Anker cold with no comparison to its competitor from Amazon.
Out of the box, the Genie is similar to the Dot, but it’s a little taller and tapers from the bottom to the top. It has the same buttons on top: volume up and down, a mute button, and the action button, which can be used to wake the device in lieu of a voice command. A blue ring illuminates when the Genie hears a command or is processing, just like the Echo Dot.
It is well built as I would expect from past experience with Anker products which include well reviewed power banks and cables. With the Genie Anker is expanding into home products such as robotic vacuum cleaners and lighting.
Setup is pretty basic just follow the instructions in the eufy app available from the Play Store or the Apple Store. Alexa is baked in but you will have to download the Alexa app to control all the available Alexa skills. Since the Alexa app is not available for iOS in Canada I had to use the Web app which is only slightly less convenient.
Fortunately I have a Amazon.com account left over from the days before Amazon.ca so I can actually get my local weather in Metric and the account is linked to my Canadian credit card.
Once set up I kept the testing simple by setting up an Alexa skill to control my home entertainment system through my Logitech Harmony Hub. It was quite impressive..easy to set up and it worked reliably to turn on the necessary devices to watch TV, Use my Apple TV or Roku.
This is not to say it was completely glitch free. Occasionally the Eufy would respond to the command but do nothing so I had to tell it what I wanted again. Occasionally it would respond to something it heard on TV and I would hear it muttering that it couldn’t do that or reporting the weather in Houston or Miami.
Generally the Voice commands worked well from quite a distance away but sometimes, I had to speak up to get the Genie’s attention if the TV was on loud. The speaker was quite decent quality and a 3.5mm audio output jack is available to connect a better one if required.
The Eufy Genie sells for $35USD compared to $50USD for the Amazon Echo Dot. This makes the Genie the cheapest way on to the smart speaker bandwagon but there is a cost to the lower price. The Genie is not Bluetooth compatible so the only way to connect a better speaker is via a cable. Plus the Gernie cannot access some of the Alexa features such as calling.
However if you can live with these shortcomings and plan to scatter a half dozen or so of these devices around your house it adds up to a considerable saving. If you want something that looks better than an Echo Dot and for the most part acts the same, go for it.