One of the biggest trends from CES ealier this year was the emergence of 3rd party Alexa-powered goodies in the form of new smart speakers, smart cameras, smart cars, and more. It’s clear that 2017 is going to be a big year for Amazon’s Alexa, with more choices than ever. But for those that would rather stick with Amazon directly, there are four main choices: Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Tap, and Echo Show.
So what are the difference between these four products and which speaker is the best fit for you? Great question, let’s dive right in.
Amazon Echo vs Dot vs Tap vs Show: Amazon Echo
The smart speaker that started it all. The Amazon Echo is a 9.25-inch-tall cylindrical speaker that features a seven microphone array and packs reasonably decent immersive 360-degree sound thanks to its 2.5-inch woofer and 2-inch tweeter.
On the sound front, it’s certainly not the most impressive speaker ever to grace the market (with Google Home arguably doing a better job here), but it is the top tier option when it comes to the Echo family and unless you are a major audiophile, you’ll find nothing to complain about.
Amazon Echo - The smart speaker that started it all.
As for the feature set, the Echo utilizes a Wi-Fi connection to respond to voice commands using the wake word Alexa (alternatively it can use Amazon, Echo, or Computer). You can ask it to do all sorts of things including play music from a variety of services like Spotify and iHeart Radio, read audiobooks, tell you the weather, answer basic search questions and more. Amazon also has a growing library of 3rd party skills that allow you to further expand the Echo’s functionality.
The Echo also plays nicely with your smart home devices, allowing you to control lights, thermostats, and more — all with your voice.
- Nothing else to buy – everything self-contained in one unit
- The best built-in sound out of the three
- A bit pricey at $180
- There is no way to connect it to your existing speaker setup
Amazon Echo vs Dot vs Tap vs Show: Amazon Echo Dot
When it comes to the Echo vs Echo Dot, in many cases I’d say it makes more sense to go with the little guy who can do it all. Of course, I’ll admit I’m a bit biased here, as this is my own personal preference. At a fraction of the price of its bigger brother, the Dot does everything that the Echo can as far as voice functionality, smart home control, and other functions are concerned.
So what’s the difference? Sound. Unlike the Echo, the Dot has a tiny little speaker inside that really isn’t good enough for music, though it’s “okay” for just asking the Dot questions. This would make the Dot less desirable if not for its biggest advantage: Bluetooth and a 3.5mm jack that allows you to connect to your existing speaker setup.
At a fraction of the price of its bigger brother, the Dot does everything that the Echo can do.
If you already have a good pair of Bluetooth or wired speakers, the Dot is a no-brainer. The Dot also makes more sense if you are an extreme audiophile and are looking for a better sound experience than the all-in-one package you get with the Echo.
Amazon Echo Dot review
At the end of the day, for $50, the Dot Echo delivers all the functionality of the Dot minus built-in sound and so it is no wonder that it is quickly becoming the most popular member of the Echo family.
- Super affordable price tag
- Small design makes it pretty easy to move around your home, if needed
- You can connect it to your existing sound setup via wires or Bluetooth
- The built-in sound really doesn’t do the job, so 3rd party speakers are a must
Amazon Echo vs Dot vs Tap vs Show: Amazon Echo Tap
All the power of Alexa, but on the go. Like the Echo Dot, the Tap can do all the same things that you can with the full-fledged Echo including smart home control, music playback, 3rd party skills, and the list goes on.
Originally, it did have one big limitation: it ditched the always-on capabilities of its other two brothers, trading this functionality for portability. The good news is a recent update now makes the Amazon Tap work just like its brothers, with full voice control.
As for the sound tech inside? The 6.2-inch-tall speaker offers a seven microphone array, 36o-degree sound via dual 1.5-inch drivers and dual passive radiators, and features a built-in battery that make it the perfect way to listen to your tunes on the go with battery life of about 9 hours on a full charge.
The Amazon Echo Tap ditches the always-on capabilities of its other two brothers, trading this functionality for portability.
If you want a great speaker that doesn’t require you to bring along your phone, the Echo Tap is a great option — just remember you still need to have a Wi-Fi network though.
- All the key functionality of the Echo, but on the go
- Arguably a bit expensive at $130
Amazon Echo Show
The latest addition to the Amazon Echo speaker family is a huge departure, in terms of both design and features, from the previous three products. Instead of a device shaped like a cylinder, the Amazon Echo Show is shaped more like a box. More importantly, the speaker also includes a 7-inch touchscreen, which adds a bunch of different functions.
The speaker also includes a 7-inch touchscreen, which adds a bunch of different functions.
While the overall look of the Echo Show may resemble an old-fashioned television set, it has all of the functions of the previous Echo speakers. You can use voice commands to play music, add calendar events, listen to news and weather updates and more. With the addition of the touchscreen, you can also use voice commands to bring up YouTube videos, engage in video chats with others who use the Echo Show, or the Alexa smartphone app, and more. It can even link up to a large number of smart home devices you might own, so you can use it to check out what’s on your security cameras, have it turn off the lights, or turn up the thermostat.
Just like the regular Echo, the Echo Show has eight microphones, along with beam-forming technology and noise cancellation features so that it will be able to listen and respond to your voice, no matter where you might be in the room. The speaker also includes a feature called ” Drop-in” which is designed to help keep track of close family members and friends by checking in on them.
There are two color choices (black and white) to choose from when you purchase the Amazon Echo Show. It’s currently priced at $229.99, making it the most expensive member of the Echo family. However, you can save $100 off the total price if you buy two with the promo code SHOW2PACK.
- Touchscreen adds way to make video calls, watch YouTube videos and more
- Smart home integration is a nice touch
- Can also do anything the other Echo speakers can do
- It’s the most expensive member of the Echo product line
- There’s no battery backup
- The design is not sleek at all
So that wraps up this Amazon Echo vs Dot vs Tap vs Show comparison. Ultimately, all four speakers are worthy of your consideration, though the right one for you largely depends on what kind of experience you are aiming for.
If portability is your thing, the Tap is naturally suited for it. If you want a lightweight design that connects to existing speakers, the Echo Dot makes a lot of sense. Want a display? Go with the Amazon Echo Show. And last but not least, the original Amazon Echo is built for those that want a one-fits-all solution and don’t have need for a built-in display.
Which Amazon Echo model do you prefer, and why? Let us know in the comments. Conversely, if you don’t think any of these models gets it right, be sure to check out our Google Home review to get a better look at the competition.