Amazon Echo vs. Echo Dot

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

The Echo and the Echo Dot are two of the most popular smart speakers available, and Amazon recently came out with new versions of both Alexa-powered speakers: The Echo (3rd Generation) and the Echo Dot (3rd Generation) with Clock.

But should you go with the Echo or its smaller cousin, the Dot? Which device is better? 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 speakers. We’ll break it all down in our Amazon Echo versus 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. Alexa can listen out for danger sounds with Alexa Guard. 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. You can change the wake word if you want to address the assistant with a different name. With 360-degree omnidirectional microphones, both the Echo and the Dot 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 Post Malone. 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, 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

echo dot 2018 3rd generation
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

The Echo and the Dot have noticeable differences in size.

The new version of the Echo, the third-generation Echo, is 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, sitting at 5.8 inches tall and weighing just over 1.7 pounds.

The Echo Dot is more lightweight, weighing 10.6 ounces. It looks a bit like a thick hockey puck. 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

Amazon Echo 3rd gen angle view
Jennifer McGrath/Digital Trends

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 than its predecessors, boasting a 0.8-inch tweeter, a 3-inch woofer, and increased volume. The newer-model Echo 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 driver, and sounds significantly louder than the previous models. But, it still doesn’t compare to the Echo.

Both devices feature a 3.5 mm 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 only improves 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 gray, plum, or sandstone. You can also opt for a 3rd-gen Echo Dot with Clock, which has an LED display that can show the time, temperature, or a timer. The LED display also auto-adjusts in response to the lighting conditions in the room, so you can always see the display clearly.

The new Echo 3rd gen comes in four different color schemes: Charcoal, heather gray, sandstone, or twilight blue. 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 (retail). The new 3rd-gen Echo sells for $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 looking to pick up an Echo to create a multiroom, Alexa-enabled experience, the Echo Dot is again 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.

While they’re fundamentally the same when it comes to accessing Alexa, music aficionados will want to side with the Amazon Echo. That’s because it delivers the superior audio performance between the two, and it’s more capable in covering larger rooms. Whereas the Echo Dot sounds underpowered in bigger spaces in the home or office, the Echo’s beefier audio hardware is more suitable in delivering the necessary audio experience to blanket those area. Yes, you’re paying more for the new 3rd-gen Echo, but audiophiles that take pride in audio quality won’t mind dishing out the money for it.

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