The entire Amazon Echo family is getting a makeover! At a recent invite-only hardware event, Amazon introduced the world to its fourth-generation devices, as well as entirely new platforms like Luna, Amazon’s own subscription gaming marketplace. One major hardware standout was the radically redesigned Echo speaker. Both the standard Echo and Dot models are losing their trademark puck appearance in favor of a bigger, rounded design. Bowling balls and snow globes come to mind.
Another Echo product that received a transformation is the Echo Dot Kids Edition. If you’re wondering what changes are coming, whether or not you should upgrade your old Kids Edition, or which is the better speaker, we’ve got you covered. In this side-by-side, we’re pitting the third-gen Echo Dot Kids Edition against the recently announced fourth edition.
The third-gen Kids Edition sports the original puck-shaped Dot design, but with a bright and colorful rainbow wrap for kids. As part of Amazon’s major Echo redesign, the fourth-gen Kids Edition gets a top-heavy overhaul. From a puck to an orb, the new model also drops the rainbow overlay in favor of two quite adorable animal wraps — one a tiger, the other a panda.
The third-gen Kids Edition measures 3.9 inches in diameter and 1.7 inches tall and weighs 10.6 ounces. Like the regular third-gen Dot, the Kids Edition has a 1.6-inch speaker driver and a four-microphone array for picking up voice commands. Inputs are power and a 3.5mm for connecting to devices like your phone or a pair of headphones. There’s also Bluetooth pairing for wireless music from your tablet or an external speaker.
The latest Kids Edition measures 3.9 inches in diameter, 3.5 inches tall, which is almost twice as tall as the previous edition. At 12 ounces, the new version is a bit heavier, too. While it may look like the speaker would be bigger, it’s actually the same 1.6-inch driver, except the driver is front-firing. External audio capabilities (3.5mm and Bluetooth) are the same as the previous Kids. One minor change is the movement of the Alexa light ring from the top of the speaker to the bottom.
The third- and fourth-gen Kids Editions share the same great suite of kid-friendly features (only some of them have new names). Both third- and fourth-gen speakers come loaded with a year of Amazon Kids+ (formerly FreeTime Unlimited), which gives kids access to thousands of Audible audiobooks, music, games, learning skills, and more. After the free year, the subscription jumps to $3 per month. As part of Amazon’s commitment to a kid-friendly interface, all Echo Dot Kids speakers filter explicit song lyrics, block news and adult-oriented podcasts and games, and give mom and dad access to intuitive parental controls. Parents can impose device curfews, limit the hours the Dot is used, and monitor their child’s Alexa usage.
Parental controls are also applicable for Alexa’s Drop In skill. Think of this as Alexa’s ability to walkie-talkie with other Echo speakers and displays in your home. Kids can also make external Drop In calls to approved (and compatible) Drop In devices. Let’s say Aunt Ruth has an Echo Show. If she’s an approved Drop In recipient, your kid can phone Auntie to their heart’s desire.
As we’ve discussed in previous Dot comparisons, privacy can be a major concern for families, especially for the Internet of Things devices made for our kids. While no device is hack-proof (and no spoken word un-quantifiable), both Kids Edition generations boast the same privacy features. These are things like the microphone off button for disabling the array mics, the ability to delete and manage voice recordings, and encryption of our Alexa voice commands. Parental controls also go a long way in limiting device exposure, creating additional layers of privacy.
In terms of good deals, there’s never been a better time to nab the third-gen Kids Edition. The speaker is currently on Amazon for $35. Amazon plans to offer third-gen Echo speakers for the foreseeable future, but it’s hard to say if the current price (or supplies) will last. That being said, if you’re in love with the new design or just want something newer, you can pre-order the fourth-gen Kids Edition for $59 on Amazon. The official Kids Edition release date is October 22, 2020.
Both the third- and fourth-gen Kids Editions come with Amazon’s two-year, worry-free guarantee. If your child breaks the speaker, send it back to Amazon for a brand new one. Compare that to the new Echo Dot’s 90-day limited guarantee with optional one-, two-, and three-year accident plans.
If you’re still inclined to shoot for the third-gen regular Dot, it only comes with a 90-day limited guarantee.
So, right off the bat, let’s just say one of the most no-brainer gifts you can give is a Kids Dot with an Echo Glow. This popular bundle launched with the previous generation’s speakers and continues with the next. For $69, you’ll be the favorite aunt or uncle come Christmas. That being said, the Echo Glow is the only bundle item for every Kids Edition package. If you want more bang for your buck, the regular Dot can often be found bundled with smart hardware like thermostats, locks, and other home security products.
It’s a tough call. If you love the new design, the latest generation is a solid bet. Yes, $59 may be a bit steep for a glorified Echo Dot with an animal mask (especially when its new big brother is $10 cheaper), but if you’re a fan of the bigger aesthetic, that’s something only the newest Kids Edition can deliver.
In terms of bargain deals and the last of the classic Dot design, the third-gen Kids Edition offers both advantages. At $35, it’s a hard deal to pass up.
The choice is yours, friends. For now, we’re calling this one a tie — at least until prices change or new features come into play. In the meantime, check out another one of our Echo speaker side-by-sides.
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