Amazon Echo vs. Echo Dot: Which smart speaker is best for you?

Should you buy the Amazon Echo, or the more affordable Echo Dot?

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Having the ability to say “Alexa” and have your questions instantly answered may be nothing short of futuristic, but with different Amazon Echo devices all offering the same voice assistant, which one should you get? At the Amazon Devices Event in Seattle in September 2019, Amazon announced eight new Echo devices, including updates to their original Echo and Echo Dot speakers that will release on October 16, 2019. Oh, decisions, decisions … and now, more decisions.

So, which is better? The Echo or the Dot? Both the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot have built-in omnidirectional microphones designed to pick up your voice from anywhere in the room, but there are noticeable and important differences between the two devices. We’ll break it all down in our Amazon Echo vs. Dot showdown.

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First, let’s talk about Alexa

The Amazon Echo and Echo Dot both come with Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa. You can ask Alexa to read the news, solve math problems, report the weather, play music, turn on your lights, and a whole lot more. The assistant can tell you what movies are on this evening, create and recommend routines for your smart devices, and catch you up on sports. You can even create your own skills on either device using Alexa Blueprints. Plus, Alexa continues to come out with new features. If you have a Ring smart doorbell, Alexa will be able to talk to your guests with a new feature called “doorbell concierge.”

Just use the wake word, which is “Alexa” by default, to access what the device has to offer. With 360-degree omnidirectional microphones, both devices are designed to always listen and hear you from anywhere in the room. However, while the latest Echo has a more advanced seven-microphone array, the latest iteration of the Dot has a simpler four-microphone array. Got music playing? No worries. Whether you have the Echo or the Dot, Alexa will still hear you over the sound of you blasting Cardi B. Well, provided you enunciate.

There are lots of smart technology options on the market these days that are compatible with the Echo and Echo Dot, from Honeywell thermostats to Philips Hue lighting systems, and you can control your smart home systems directly from your Echo devices or with the Alexa App. Alexa is compatible with more than 85,000 smart home products.

Size, looks, and portability

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Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

The Echo and the Dot have noticeable differences in size. The second-generation Echo is 3.4 inches in diameter. The new versions of the Echo coming out in October, the third-generation Echo, is the same height as the 2nd gen (5.8 inches tall), but it’s slightly wider at 3.9 inches in diameter. The third-generation Echo Dot is 3.9 inches in diameter just like the 3rd-gen Echo, however, the Dot is only 1.7 inches tall. Echo is much taller and heavier than the Dot.

The Echo Dot is more lightweight, and it looks a bit like a thick hockey puck. The third-generation Echo Dot is slightly heavier than its predecessors, weighing 10.6 ounces. The most recent iteration of the Echo is even heavier at just over 1.7 pounds.

In comparison to its larger sister, the Echo Dot wins in terms of portability. You can throw it in your handbag to bring along to parties, or find room for it in your home even if there isn’t a lot of shelf space for smart home devices.

Sound quality

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While both devices have a built-in speaker, the Echo boasts a larger, higher-quality, 360-degree speaker. The newest Echo, the Echo 3rd gen, has even better sound quality, boasting a 0.8-inch tweeter, a 3-inch woofer, and increased volume. The newer-model speakers also come with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and dynamic bass response for even better sound quality.

The third-generation Echo Dot has improved its sound quality over the older Dots, adding a larger drive, and sounds significantly louder than the previous models.

Both devices feature a 3.5mm output jack, so you can connect them to an external speaker using an audio cable to boost the sound quality. When comparing the Echo and the Dot, there’s no question the Echo has better sound, and the new Echo 3rd gen will only improve upon the Echo’s already superior sound quality.

Aesthetics

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Wondering which one will fit in better with the existing furniture and technology in your home?

The 3rd-gen Dot comes in charcoal, heather grey, plum, or sandstone. You can also opt for a 3rd-gen Echo Dot with Clock (coming in October), which has an LED display that can show the time, temperature, or a timer. The LED display also auto-adjust in response to the lighting conditions in the room, so you can always see the display clearly.

The new Echo 3rd gen comes in different four color schemes: Charcoal, heather gray, sandstone, or twilight blue. The 2nd-gen Echo comes in six color options. Two have a wooden finish (walnut or oak), three are fabric (charcoal, heather gray, or sandstone), and one is a metallic silver. Some of the Echo finishes (like the three fabric finishes and the walnut finish) are more readily available than the others though.

With a wide array of looks to choose from, you’ll probably have no trouble finding one that fits your home’s decor.

Cost

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When deciding which Amazon Alexa device to purchase, cost is one of the key factors many people consider. If budget is a concern, know that the Dot is around half the price of the Echo and offers the same functionalities.

The third-generation Dot costs $50 retail, but you can sometimes find it available on sale for around $30. If you opt for a 3rd-gen Echo Dot with Clock, it’ll cost you $60.

The second-generation Echo sells for $100 retail, but you can sometimes find it on sale for between $65 and $75. The new 3rd-gen Echo sells for the same price retail price as the 2nd-gen ($100).

Conclusion

Basically, the only difference between the two devices, other than size and cost, is sound. If you’re just looking to be introduced to Alexa, you’ll be fine with the Echo Dot. It has all the smarts of Alexa in a small speaker. Keep in mind when putting together your shopping list that you can connect any smart speaker to either device for richer sound.

If you’re just looking to pick up an Echo to create a multiroom, Alexa-enabled experience, the Echo Dot is a great choice. It even comes in a kid-friendly version if you want to put it in your child’s room. All in all, the Echo Dot is an ideal choice for most people. Now, whether you want to go with the Echo Dot or Dot with Clock, that’s entirely up to you.

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