Once a while I get my hands onto a gadget that really sparks my interest. Taking Alexa with me (other than Amazon Alexa app) sounds like an interesting idea. Here comes Omars Dogo – Alexa enabled, portable Bluetooth|WiFi Speaker. An IoT device that fits into your cup holder.

Omars Dogo – Alexa-enabled speaker

I’m a big fan of this colour scheme and aesthetics. Your opinion may differ, but I love it, and the Omars Dogo scores extra points in this department. The speaker is roughly the size of a can of coke and probably weighs about the same too.

There is not much in terms of a user interface on it, but upon closer inspection, you will see a volume ring, Alexa button, and power and WiFi toggle at the bottom. It’s probably enough to get by, but more on that in a moment.

The speaker comes with 3600 mAh battery, somewhat impressive at first until you account for the fact that the device is constantly* connected to the network. You will also find AUX-IN for a good measure. The battery lasts about 3-4h depending on the volume, which is not very impressive, but unless you have to take the Omars Dogo with you, you can keep it connected to the power via a micro USB cable.

I should also mention how much I liked the ring for volume control. The rotary encoder works well, and you can quickly and precisely adjust the volume to the desired level.

*You could toggle a Bluetooth only mode to extend its life, but seriously what’s the point, you are interested in this speaker because of Alexa

Sound

A careful inspection revealed that the Omars Dogo has a speaker actually pointing up. You can keep the speaker in your cup holder or rotate it around and you won’t have any problems with the direction of the sound.

The sound is pretty impressive considering the size and the price of the device. I’d say is right on par with Google Home Mini (very good for the package) and listening to Alexa or music is an overall nice experience.

There is a fair amount of bass, and the top speaker placement works well of the mid and high tones as well. It’s not a stereo sound, so bear this in mind.

Alexa

At first, I wondered why the Alexa button is placed on the side of the button. Once I discovered that the top of the speaker is reserved for the speaker, it was clear to me that you can’t really put that button on the top without some serious engineering behind it. It’s a shame, as the button placement is less than ideal.

In all honesty, I’d love “Alexa” hot-word detection more. I believe that being forced to a button kills some of that “smart” aspects of the speaker.

It can stream music from Amazon Music, but not in the multi-room set up. I can stream one radio to my Amazon Echo and another one to Omars Dogo speaker at the same time. I guess you need to have more than one Omars Dogo speaker for a proper multiroom audio.

The speaker has been detected by the Amazon Echo App and listed as Alexa device but I have not been able to put it in any of the groups.


Here is what I don’t like about Omars Dogo

There are a couple of things I should mention. The Dogo App is currently not compatible with Android Pie (works on other devices). I had to use my wife’s phone (Android Oreo) just to set it up.

Tinkering with the device before my wife got in, I was able to connect to it in the AP mode and connect the WIFI (you will need the app to authorise the Amazon account for Alexa functionality)

You have no way of controlling the playback other than via app. You can either press the Alexa button and say your command  “skip track” or open the app and skip tracks from there. In all honesty, that’s time-consuming. I’d rather have hot-word detection or a physical button designed for that.

The Dogo app that comes with the speaker is barebone. You won’t be opening it often, only to go through the config and authorise your accounts. I’d love to see some work put into that app.

Conclusion

Disclaimer
The Omars Dogo has been provided to me for the purpose of the review. As usual, with all my reviews I reserve the right to an honest critique of the product.

For now, Omars Dogo is a mixed bag of joy. On one side, it looks great, it costs very little and offers great sound. On the other hand, the Alexa triggered by button feels like a downgrade for someone that is used to Amazon Echo. These things can be addressed by a firmware update, so who knows, maybe with time, we will see a hot-word detection. For now, consider this a strong recommendation but only if you don’t mind using a button for Alexa.

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