Amazon’s Echo Lineup – Which is Best?

Amazon’s product line of Echo devices has continued to grow since the launch of the very first standalone Echo Dot back in 2014.  This guide will simplify buying an Alexa-powered speaker or screen for your smart home.

Best Overall – Echo Dot (3rd Gen):  The Echo Dot 3rd Generation was released earlier this year and is a simple start to building your smart home.  It costs just $50, and if you are new to internet-connected devices, it’s a great place to start.  Echo Dot performs all the same Alexa commands as the more expensive devices.  It’s built-in speakers are louder and clearer than ever, and it comes in 3 colors (Charcoal, Heather Gray & Sandstone).

Best for Music – Echo (2nd Gen):   The Echo 2nd Generation is much shorter than the original version.  At $100, it’s a good choice if you are looking for something more than the Dot.  The Echo is also a better choice if you are looking to build a multi-room, Alexa-enabled experience.   The fabric version comes in the same 3 colors as the Dot, but for $20 more, you can get more colors and a different material.  There’s a light oak color, a darker walnut and metallic silver.

Best for Smart Homes – Echo Plus (2nd Gen):  The Echo Plus 2nd Generation, like the Echo 2nd Gen, has Dolby speaker technology.  But for $150, you will get better sound than the Echo.  The Echo Plus also has the ability to serve as a smart home hub.  It has Zigbee  built in, meaning you can connect to your compatible devices (light bulbs & smart locks) without the need for an extra smart home hub such as Wink.  In addition, the Echo Plus 2nd Gen has a temperature sensor.  This means that you can give commands related to the temperature of your home.

Best for Kids – Echo Dot Kids Edition:  Amazon has an Echo especially for kids, and it’s based on the Echo 3rd Gen.  The Echo Dot Kids Edition retails for $70.  Since this Echo is for kids, it comes in 2 colorful hues – rainbow & Alexa-friendly blue.  It also comes with 1 year of FreeTime Unlimited, which gives kids access to audiobooks, music, podcasts and more.  Parents get access the Amazon Parent Dashboard which can set how long the kids can use the device and turn it off at bedtime.

Best for Alexa Fans – Echo Show (2nd Gen):  All of the Echo products on this list so far just have speakers.  The $230 Echo Show 2nd Generation has a 10.1” HD screen that can be used to view the weather, calendar appointments, make video calls, and even watch Amazon Prime Video.  The Echo Show is definitely not cheap at $230, but it is the best Echo that money can buy.

Best for the Kitchen – Echo Show 5:  The Echo Show 5, a miniature version of the Echo Show, maintains that device’s core features, but it has a much smaller 5” screen.  This makes it perfect to put on a nightstand or on the kitchen counter.  It even has a small camera for Skype video conferencing.  At just $90, this could be the best Echo for the price. 

Best for the Bedroom – Echo Spot:  The Echo Spot is basically a smart alarm clock with Alexa.  Now that the Echo 5 is available the $130 Echo Spot is not quite as good a deal as it used to be.  The Echo Spot has a webcam and can video chat with other Shows and Spots.  It has a round alarm clock design and is compact enough to fit on a nightstand.

Best for Speakers – Echo Input:  Do you have a favorite collection of speakers that you don’t want to replace?  Then the $35 Echo Input is for you.  The Echo Input will connect with a 3.5mm cable or Bluetooth.  It will stream Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, Sirius XM, Apple Music and more on your newly “smart” speakers.  It has a slim, low-profile design and will fit almost anywhere.

Best for Home Theater – Echo Link/Echo Link Amp:  The Echo Link/Echo Link Amp enables you to stream hi-fi music to your existing stereo system.  The $200 Echo Link requires you to have an existing amplifier, but the $300 Echo Link Amp has an amplifier built-in for an all-in-one solution.  Both have voice control music selection and playback with your compatible Echo device or the Alexa app.

Best for Bass – Echo Sub:  Unlike the other Echo devices on this list, the $130 Echo Sub doesn’t work as a standalone Alexa speaker.  Instead, it’s designed to work with other Alexa devices and add powerful bass to the audio.  If you pair with 2 of the same Echo devices, you will be able to get left/right stereo sound.

Best for Home Phone – Echo Connect:  With the $35 Echo Connect, you can connect your existing home phone to your compatible Alexa-enabled device to call any phone number, using just your voice.  You can make and receive calls and even sync all your contacts from a smartphone or tablet.

Best for Style – Echo Look:  The Echo Look is a $100 hands-free camera and style assistant with Alexa.  It allows you to take full-length photos and 6-second videos of your outfits with the voice-activated camera.  Although it doesn’t offer calling and messaging, it will compare your outfits to find out which looks better and why with smart Style Check.

Best Companion Device – Echo Buttons:  Echo Buttons come in a 2-pack for $20 and are a fun companion for your Echo device.  You can activate an Alexa smart home routine with the push of a button.  Echo buttons are compatible with Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show and Echo Spot.  You can connect up to 4 buttons with compatible Echo devices using bluetooth.

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