Amazon introduced several new Echo designs this year, adding new spherical-shaped models to the company’s arsenal of smart speakers and displays that work with Alexa. Echo devices consistently top Amazon’s Black Friday sales each year, and the company offers steep discounts on new and older devices leading up to the holiday season.
Alexa works the same in all of the Echo devices, but the price depends on the speaker quality in the Echo line, or the display size in the Echo Show models. You can connect to the devices via Bluetooth to stream content, or through the internet with Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, SiriusXM, Tidal, and other streaming services.
If you’re shopping for your first Echo device, know that they all feature Alexa, which allows you to control everything from lights and security cameras, to TVs, clocks, and microwaves. Third-party devices that work with Alexa feature a “Works with Alexa” badge on their Amazon product pages, making it easy to incorporate other devices into your smart home.
The Echo family includes the Echo Flex, Echo Dot, Echo, and the Echo Studio. They range in price and hardware, but they all do pretty much the same thing. You can stream music, command your smart home, ask Alexa questions, make calls, and drop-into other devices from any Echo device. All devices feature a 3.5mm connection if you need it, and Amazon offers steep discounts this weekend on all devices.
The Echo Flex: $24, or $9.99 for Black Friday on Amazon
The Echo Flex is the cheapest option on the market, and it’s a simple plug-in that puts Alexa into any room. The Echo Flex is designed to go into bathrooms, attics, garages, or a basement, and plugs directly into an outlet.
The Echo Flex wasn’t designed for playing music like the other models. The Echo Flex offers 2 USB ports and features a 0.6″ mini speaker. The speaker works great for “Drop-In” calls, which allows you to talk to someone from another Echo device in the house. For example, if the kids are in the garage and you are upstairs, you can just “drop-in” on the Echo Flex in the garage and tell them to quiet down or come in for dinner.
The speaker also allows Alexa to answer all of your questions, or to give you feedback or alerts. You can have an Echo Flex in the basement to turn on the lights upstairs, or in the garage to open the garage door, or turn on the porch lights.
The Echo Dot (4th Generation): $49, or $28.99 for Black Friday on Amazon
The Echo Dot is the cheapest music-worthy option on the list and features a 1.6″ speaker. These are popular in bedrooms and dorms, and they fit perfectly on the bedside table or kitchen counter. Amazon introduced a spherical design this year, as well as improved speakers. You can choose between the standard model or a version with a built-in digital clock display, which is perfect for a nightstand or dorm.
Amazon’s description reads, “Our most popular smart speaker with Alexa. The sleek, compact design delivers crisp vocals and balanced bass for full sound.”
You can also purchase an Echo Dot Kids Edition, which offers everything the regular Echo Dot has, with optional parental controls, and kid-friendly content. The kid’s edition comes with a year of Amazon Kids+ (FreeTime Unlimited), which gives them access to thousands of hours of kid-friendly Audible books, interactive games, and educational skills. Parents can set daily time limits, filter explicit songs, and review activity in the Amazon Parent Dashboard. This model also comes with a 2-year worry-free guarantee, so if it breaks, Amazon will return and replace it for free.
The Echo (4th Generation): $99 or $69.99 for Black Friday at Amazon
The Echo is an enhanced Echo Dot, and it’s the standard Echo device in the lineup. The Echo works the same as the Echo Dot, but the Echo has a premium 3.0″ woofer and dual front-firing 0.8″ tweeters. The Echo is perfect for a family room or living area, or if you prefer a more robust listening experience powered by Dolby audio.
Amazon added, “New look, new sound – Echo delivers clear highs, dynamic mids, and deep bass for rich, detailed sound that automatically adapts to any room.”
The Echo Studio: $199 or $159 on Black Friday on Amazon
The Echo Studio is the most expensive Echo model on the market, featuring a 1.0″ tweeter, three 2.0″ mid-range speakers, and a 5.3″ woofer. The Echo Studio also features a mini-optical Toslink line-in connection, as well as the standard 3.5mm connection. Powered with Dolby Atmos technology, Amazon stated that the Echo Studio could analyze the acoustics of your space, then fine-tune itself for optimal sound.
With four options to choose from, there’s an Echo device for every budget. The easiest way to decide, is to think about what you need from Alexa. If you plan on listening to music, audiobooks, or podcasts, then you want to start with the Echo Dot. If you have a larger room, you might want to start with the Echo, and consider the Echo Studio if you plan on integrating the device with your TV or Blu-ray player. Since Alexa works the same way with all four devices, it really comes down to the speaker quality.
The Echo Show
The Echo Show line is a little more straightforward, and the price is based on the screen size. There are four models to choose from, but each offers the same basic functions, along with Alexa. Echo Shows are mostly found in kitchens and bedrooms, where they can offer step-by-step recipes, or show to-do lists, shopping lists, and calendars at a glance. You can choose a clock face, and check the weather as you plan your day, as well as control your smart home, or watch video content.
The Echo Show can stream shows, movies, or the news, as well as stream radio stations, podcasts, and audiobooks. The added display means that the Echo Show can also do video calling and messaging, so you can keep in touch via the Alexa app, another Echo device with a screen, or even Skype.
The Echo Show 5 is the least expensive option and is named after the 5.5” smart display. This model starts at $89.99, or $44.99 for Black Friday. The larger Echo Show 8 features an 8″ HD screen and adds stereo sound. This model starts at $129.99, or $64.99 on Black Friday. The standard Echo Show 2nd Gen model features a 10.1″ HD screen and premium sound, perfect for streaming video or making video calls. This model starts at $229.99, or $149.99 on Black Friday.
The standard Echo Show will also come in a 3rd Gen model, which will add a stand that moves with you during video calls or pictures. You can also access the built-in camera to remotely monitor your home anytime with the Alexa app or other Echo Show devices. That model will start at $249.99.
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