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The best Echo speakers: Echo vs Dot, Show, and the others
Amazon offers Echo speakers and smart displays in many shapes and sizes. Predictably this can make it hard to decide which one to buy, especially if you’re new to smart home tech. Which one is ideal for your use case, or more importantly, budget? Check out the best Echo speakers and displays right here.
The best Echo speakers
- The Echo Dot (4th gen) is a cheap entry into the Alexa ecosystem if you’re not demanding on the music front.
- The flagship Echo (4th gen) is the sweet spot for most buyers, merging surprising bass, volume, and fidelity with features like room sensors and a Zigbee hub.
- The Echo Studio is Amazon’s best-sounding speaker, and the only one that supports Dolby Atmos.
- The Echo Show 8 (2nd gen) offers the best balance among Amazon smart displays in terms of price versus features.
- The Echo Show 10 (3rd gen) is the company’s best-sounding display, with a rotating screen to boot.
- The Echo Show 15 deemphasizes music, but helps organize couples and families via info widgets on a 15-inch screen.
Editor’s note: We’ll regularly update this list of the best Amazon Echo speakers and displays as new ones are released.
Echo Dot (4th gen): Great price, decent quality
The fourth-generation Echo Dot is one of the most popular smart speakers for a reason. At $50, it’s an affordable entry point into the Alexa ecosystem, and it retails for even less during sales events. Sound quality, meanwhile, is surprisingly solid — it’s not going to blow you away, but the Dot can fill a quiet room while maintaining enough clarity for things like news, podcasts, or ambient music.
You’ll have to spend more on another speaker if you’re expecting hard bass or surround sound. Aside from cost, the other attraction here is size — the Dot has a tiny footprint, so it fits on nightstands and cluttered office desks.
Appropriately, you can pay a little extra for a model with a small LED clock in front. It’s actually mysterious that you can’t get a similar upgrade on Amazon’s main Echo.
Check out our full review to learn more about the Echo Dot.
Echo (4th gen): The flagship Amazon Alexa smart speaker
The standard Echo looks like the Dot, but is substantially larger and packed with upgrades, as you’d expect. Audio for example is delivered via two 0.8-inch tweeters and a 3-inch woofer, making it both louder and more bass-heavy. It additionally supports Dolby processing, though not Atmos surround sound.
Also read: The best smart speakers
For smart homes the Echo includes built-in temperature and motion sensors, which can be useful in Alexa automation routines. If you have compatible accessories you can use the speaker as a Zigbee hub, and within the next year, it should work as a Matter hub as well.
Check out our full review to learn more about the Amazon Echo.
Echo Studio: The best sound quality Amazon has to offer
The Echo Studio dwarfs every other Amazon speaker, both in size and audio quality. It combines three 2-inch mid-range speakers with a 1-inch tweeter and a 5.3-inch woofer, enabling 360-degree sound, including Dolby Atmos.
It’s meant to be a centerpiece of your home’s audio, and in fact you can pair one or two with a Fire TV device to bring Atmos to movies and TV shows. It won’t be as good as a full-fledged surround setup with dedicated Atmos channels, but it should still sound great while adding everything Alexa has to offer.
Like the mainline Echo, you can use the Studio as a Zigbee hub. There aren’t any motion or temperature sensors however.
Check out our full review to learn more about the Amazon Echo Studio.
Echo Show 8 (2nd gen): The best balance between features and price
The Show 8 sports a 1,280×800 panel paired with a couple of 2-inch speakers, and a 13-megapixel camera that keeps you auto-framed during Amazon and Zoom calls. Don’t worry — if you’re concerned about privacy, you can physically disable the camera on the fly.
Adding a screen to Alexa enables things like recipe guidance, detailed weather forecasts, and streaming video from services like Netflix and Prime Video, although you’ll have to watch YouTube from the display’s web browser. You can also tune into Alexa-compatible security cameras and doorbells, or treat the product as its own camera via the Alexa app.
Echo Show 10 (3rd gen): A fancy rotating display with the most oomph
The Echo Show 10 is unique not just in Amazon’s lineup but among all smart displays, since its 10.1-inch screen rotates to follow you, whether you’re cooking in the kitchen or pacing around during a video call. In fact it makes for a better security camera than the Show 8, since you can scan a full 360 degrees. You can disable rotation if you like, or limit it so the display doesn’t hit nearby objects or peer somewhere it shouldn’t. It’s perfectly usable as a static product.
It’s also a Zigbee hub, and Amazon’s best-sounding smart display, equipped with a couple of 1-inch tweeters and a 3-inch woofer. The product is clearly meant to be a focal point in any room — something an entire family can turn to for entertainment or information.
Check out our full review to learn more about the Amazon Echo Show 10.
Echo Show 15: The largest smart display available
If the Show 10 is useful for families, the Show 15 is a home hub first and foremost. While you can technically sit it on a table stand, you’re really meant to mount it on a wall for everyone to see. Its 15.6-inch screen employs an advanced, widget-based version of the Show interface, making it easier to check out calendars, to-do lists, and virtual sticky notes.
It does make some sacrifices to keep price down. Its two 1.6-inch speakers don’t sound as nice as the Show 8 or 10, and ironically, there’s no integrated Zigbee hub. Its camera is even downgraded to 5 megapixels without any auto-framing, right when you’d think it’d be more important than ever to zoom in with detail.
You’ll still feel like you’re living in the future, however, whenever you control lights or answer your doorbell using a picture frame.
Which is the best device for me?
As with many things, finding the best Echo speaker depends a lot on your needs. If you’re on a budget, the Echo Dot can be a cheap gateway into the smart home world, and its audio is sufficient if you’re not picky — or you’re just trying to extend Alexa to places like a garage or nursery.
We’d suggest spending extra on the flagship Echo if you can afford it, since it strikes a perfect balance between quality, functionality, and price. You might upgrade to the Studio if you want the best audio, but you’ll only experience its full power if you have Dolby Atmos content.
In terms of smart displays, it’s all about where you expect to use them. The Echo Show 8 is best suited as a desk or nightstand accessory, since it’s relatively compact and it doesn’t put out earth-shattering sound. The Echo Show 10 is great for a kitchen or living room, where loud audio and a large screen have more significance. The Echo Show 15 can be useful for organizing a household, but that means mounting it in high-traffic areas like your dining space or hallway.
Frequently asked questions
It’s hard to go wrong with an Echo, and when it comes to Alexa-ready smart displays, the only real alternative is Meta’s Portal lineup.
Having said that, you may want to look beyond Amazon for speakers if you’re an audiophile, since companies like Bose and Sonos make Alexa products that top even the Echo Studio. Amazon has moreover dropped portable speakers from its lineup, so if you need that functionality for camping, parties, or a home gym, you’ll have to shop elsewhere.
You should be able to connect a single Echo Studio or 4th gen Echo to a TV using a wired connection. The latter has a 3.5mm line-in port, while the Studio can use 3.5mm or a mini-optical Toslink connection.
If you want to go wireless and/or have a multi-channel setup, you’ll need to pair with a Fire TV device, whether it’s an all-in-one TV set or an add-on like the Cube or 4K Stick. Just be sure to use two Echos of the same type for your stereo channels, and an Echo Sub if you want deep bass. The stereo channels have to be Studios if you want Dolby Atmos. Pairing is done via Wi-Fi using the Alexa app.
Not anything significant, except perhaps Fire TV integration and any model-specific features, like the room sensors in the 4th gen Echo. In some cases third-party products do things an Echo can’t — there are no Echo soundbars or portable speakers, for instance.
Yes. While a Dot is fine for Alexa commands, podcasts, and low-key music, even the standard Echo delivers a lot more bass, fidelity, and volume. The Studio takes things even further, albeit with a pricetag some won’t consider worth it.
No, at least not yet. That could change once the Matter smart home protocol launches in late 2022, but it remains to be seen if tech companies will play nicely with each other.