Which Amazon Echo smart speaker should I buy?

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Amazon is spoiling us for choice with its wide range of Echo smart speakers – we explain which Echo is best for you

Amazon’s family of Echo smart speakers has been growing steadily – so steadily, in fact, that it’s becoming difficult to keep track of how many there are, let alone decide which one would be best for you.

So, if you like the idea of having a home assistant at waiting on your every voice command, then here we’ll run you through the Echo devices that are currently available, the differences between each model, and explain which are most suitable for particular tasks. We’ll also share the details of the newest members of the Echo family, so you can see what the online retailer has been adding to its smart speaker lineup.

*** Note : £1 = $1.42 (correct at time of post)

Amazon Echo 2

Price: £90 – Buy now from Amazon

The original Echo is no longer available, but the understanding now is that you’ll want the Echo 2 instead – which coincidently is £60 cheaper.

While not the best Echo in terms of specs, the Echo 2 offers everything you need from a standard Echo speaker for a good price. The cylindrical device has 360-degree sound and stands at about 24cm tall. It has full support for voice commands so you can shout “Alexa” at it from anywhere in the room and ask it to do some pretty cool, timesaving tasks such as reporting news, updating you on traffic and the weather as well as answering mundane questions and reading aloud audiobooks. It can provide you with sports scores and schedules and supports third-party products like Uber, Philips Hue, Nest and Hive.

What’s great about the Echo 2 is that Amazon updates the system over the cloud, allowing you to receive new features as and when they come in.

Who is it for?

This is the standard model for those who want a good all-round speaker with the advantages that Alexa brings. If you don’t need all those extra bells and whistles like an extra screen or an integrated camera, but want something with some solid sound and something that won’t break the bank, this is the Echo for you.

Amazon Echo Dot

Price: £50 – Buy now from Amazon

The Echo Dot is the baby Echo in the family. This Echo is cheap and cheerful and doesn’t try to be anything that it’s not. It’s a tiny 3.2cm tall device and only has a small speaker inside it, meaning the sound quality is not great for anything beyond voice commands and (non-music) radio. You can, however, plug it into a speaker through the 3.5mm jack or connect it via Bluetooth, at which point it actually outperforms its bigger brother, if your existing setup is good enough.

What’s great about the Dot is it has all of the voice-functionality of the Amazon Echo 2 but in a nice small package for those who are already proud of their sound system.

Who is it for?

Those who want the Alexa experience, but don’t need another speaker. If you have no need for an extra speaker, this is the Echo for you as it’s £40 less than the main model.

Amazon Echo Plus

Price: £140 – Buy now from Amazon

The Echo Plus is the cream of the crop and a step up from the Echo 2, but with that title comes a big price tag attached. The differences? There’s a built-in smart hub so you can connect the Echo to your smart home devices and have Alexa search for any compatible smart-home products with one command. Sound quality is also bumped up, with the speaker having far crisper highs than the Echo 2 alongside a deeper bass and general improvements to its voice recognition.

Who is it for?

Power smart-home users with lots of smart gadgets dotted around the house and for audiophiles that want the best sound quality built in.

Amazon Echo Show

Price: £200 – Buy now from Amazon

The Echo Show is a major upgrade on the standard Echo as it comes with a 7in screen. This means you can view video content and watch the News instead of just listening to it. It also lets you make video calls and send video messages. Essentially, it’s a regular Echo with knobs on.

Who is it for?

Those who think that a screen will increase productivity and enjoyment out of the product. If you want to make video calls, this is probably the Echo for you.

Amazon Echo Spot

Price: £120 – Buy now from Amazon

A ball-shaped alarm clock with Alexa functionality. It has a tiny 2.5in screen which displays text-based notifications as well as soothing pictures of clouds. There’s even a front-facing camera integrated into the Spot which allows you to make video calls. You can use all the normal voice commands that you use with the standard Echo products.

Who is it for?

People who see the Echo as the perfect alarm clock substitute, or want a Show but can’t justify the price.

Amazon Echo Buttons

Price: £20 – Buy now from Amazon

Not an Echo per se, Amazon Echo Buttons are an accessory to your existing Echo network. The buttons connect to your choice of Echo speaker via Bluetooth and are intended to be used with games that are powered by Alexa such as Beat The Intro. Basically, this is Amazon’s attempt at making the Echo a game-friendly family speaker.

Who is it for?

Those that want to transform their Echo into a family-friendly games hub.

Amazon Echo devices not available in the UK

Amazon Echo Connect

Not released in the UK just yet, the Echo Connect is basically just a speaker which connects to your landline phone. It will ring out through to the Connect speaker so you can hear your loved ones (or telemarketers) through the Echo.

Who is it for?

Use speakerphone a lot? Like the idea of having your calls piped directly to a speaker so you can hear people from all sides of the room? Then this could be the Echo for you.

Amazon Echo Tap

A portable, wireless Amazon Echo. The Amazon Tap doesn’t have as good sound quality as the Echo 2, but you get all the features that the original Echo offers. It charges via a dock and is completely wireless with a reported nine hours of music playback.

$129.99 in the US, but no UK release date yet.

Who is it for?

Those that want to make Alexa portable.

What about Google?

If you’re not 100% sold on getting into bed with Amazon, Google offers some decent alternatives to the Echo – although with far fewer options.

The main speaker is the Google Home. This doesn’t look a million miles away from the Amazon Echo 2, but allows you to change its cover after purchase giving it a bit more flexibility. Overall, Google Voice Assistant feels a little more mature than Alexa, but there’s not that much in it – and for my money, the sound quality of the Echo is a smidge better.

Then there’s the Google Home Mini – this is Google’s answer to the Echo Dot, only it’s considerably less useful. The problem? It has no 3.5mm headphone jack, meaning you’re stuck with the weaker sound quality of the built-in speaker – except for music which you can connect to a Chromecast Audio. But that’s another £20 expense.

(expertreviews.co.uk, https://goo.gl/854LDk)



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