The Vaux speaker dock from Ninety7 is specially designed for use with the Echo Dot, adding powerful audio output and full portability to Amazon’s Alexa-powered smart speaker. Here’s our full review of this impressive Echo accessory.
Amazon’s Echo Dot is the smallest of the company’s Alexa-powered smart speakers. The Dot is also the cheapest at just £50, which makes it £100 cheaper than the standard Echo model. However, that reduced price means less grunt, so you no longer have the benefit of 360-degree sound from a 2.5-inch woofer and 2-inch tweeter combination. Rather, you get a single piddly little speaker for Alexa’s feedback.
Neither of the Echo devices have a built-in battery either, so you can’t carry them around the home or take them out into the garden when needed. For this feature you’ll need to look to the Echo Tap, which isn’t available here in the UK.
Which is where the Ninety7 Vaux speaker comes in. This nifty dock is designed to house your Echo Dot, in a perfectly sized slot up top. Stick your Dot inside and plug in the connectors and suddenly it looks more similar to the standard Echo, complete with a wrap-around speaker to blast your music, podcasts or whatever else you listen to. As an added bonus you also get full battery power, making the Dot portable.
Ninety7 Vaux speaker review: Design
Unlike the smooth cylindrical finish of the full-sized Echo, the Vaux speaker opts for a more unusual design; circular at the top, square at the bottom, with a gradual morph between the two. It’s a neat effect, and although the Vaux is a more chunky device, it’s also quite squat. We had no problem shoving it into a backpack, to take on the road.
Up top you have a circular indentation, for your Echo Dot to slot neatly inside. This is a snug fit, so the Dot won’t drop out of the bay if the speaker is accidentally knocked over.
Connections for power and audio output are handled via a rubber flap, which is pleasingly tidy. Further down the back end you get a power button, as well as a 3.5mm jack and a micro USB port for charging the internal battery.
Ninety7 Vaux speaker review: Features
One of the main reasons to buy the Vaux is to boost the Echo Dot’s otherwise piddly audio output. This proves particularly useful if you’re using the smart device in quite a noisy environment, so you can actually hear Alexa’s replies. Not to mention essential if you plan on listening to music via the Dot.
If you’re after top-end audio performance, you’re not going to find it from a £50 Bluetooth speaker (sales aside). However, this speaker sure can throw out a seriously loud sound, to fill a massive room with music on demand. The Vaux makes a valiant attempt at bass as well, although is better suited to calmer tunes. Guitars and heavier instruments tend to result in distortion, especially when you pump up the volume.
You can connect your smartphone, tablet or other mobile device via Bluetooth, if you want to play tunes direct. There’s even a 3.5mm jack on the rear of the Vaux, for a wired connection. Of course, the Echo Dot can also connect independently to the likes of Amazon Prime Music and Spotify, to pump out your favourite tunes.
Leave the speaker plugged in and the built-in battery will slowly charge up, so you can eventually disconnect it and carry it around without any disruption to service. We found the Vaux usually powered the Echo Dot for just under a day of always-on listening, or around five hours of music playback. Other Bluetooth speakers that we’ve tested lately definitely perform better than that (the UE WonderBooms give double that life per charge), although it’s not a bad result by any means.
Ninety7 Vaux speaker review: Verdict
The Vaux dock adds a rechargeable battery and a proper speaker to your Echo Dot, for the value-packed price of just £50. In other words, for a grand total of £100, you get what is essentially a fully-fledged Echo with the added benefit of full portability. That’s a bit of a bargain.
The Ninety7 Vaux is available from Amazon and Currys right now for £50 and it comes in a choice of two colours: Carbon and Ash.