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Amazon Echo vs. Echo Dot: Battle of siblings

The Echo and the Echo Dot are two of the most prominent smart speakers around. So, it’s no surprise that Amazon continues to update both Alexa-powered speakers, with the Echo (4th-generation) and the Echo Dot (4th-gen) being the company’s newest models.

Should you go with the fuller-sized Echo or its smaller sibling, 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. Depending on your budget or love of music, one may be better suited for you than the other.

We’ll break it all down in our Amazon Echo versus Dot showdown, pitting the two latest versions of the popular Alexa speakers against each other. Check out our latest updates on Amazon Echo deals too, which include some cost-saving holiday discounts!

First, let’s talk about Alexa

Amazon Echo (4th Gen) glowing LED light ring on top of table.

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 more entertaining endeavors. The assistant also 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. Alexa can also listen for danger sounds with Alexa Guard. If you have a Ring smart doorbell, Alexa will be able to talk to your guests with a newer 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 by 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. While the Echo has a more advanced seven-microphone array, 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 and growing.

Echo’s size, looks, and portability

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) with Clock LED light on table.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

The latest versions of the Echo and Echo Dot received a massive redesign. Previously, the Echo was a cylindrical speaker, and the Echo Dot was a flat, puck-shaped device. Now, both are spherical, fabric-layered speakers that look similar in appearance, with the Echo Dot simply being a bit smaller than the Echo.

The latest Echo is 5.7 inches in diameter with a height of 5.2 inches. The latest Echo Dot is 3.9 inches in diameter, but it’s only 3.5 inches tall. The Echo is significantly taller and heavier than the Dot, weighing just over 970 grams. The Echo Dot is more lightweight, weighing 341.3 grams.

Note: Both models have their LED indicators in a light ring around the base now and require an outlet or power pack to operate, so they aren’t really designed to be portable.

Finally, the Echo 4th-gen and the Echo Dot 4th-gen are both available in white, charcoal, and Twilight Blue. The Echo Dot has some other kid-friendly skins as well, which we’ll discuss below.

Amazon Echo’s sound quality

Amazon Echo on top of table with desk lamp nearby.

While both devices have a built-in speaker, the Echo boasts a larger, higher-quality 360-degree speaker. The Echo (4th-gen) has even better sound quality than its predecessors, boasting two 0.8-inch tweeters, a 3-inch neodymium 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. What’s special here is that it borrows from the Echo Studio by automatically sensing the acoustics of the surrounding environment to fine-tune its audio.

The fourth-generation Echo Dot has improved its sound quality over the older Dots, adding a larger driver, and it sounds significantly louder than the previous models. But it still doesn’t compare to the performance of the Echo.

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. However, it’s only the Echo that packs a 3.5mm input jack. When comparing the Echo and the Dot, there’s no question the Echo has better sound.

Aesthetics

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) on table with LED light ring glowing.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Wondering which one will fit in better with the existing furniture and technology in your home? Since the two speakers look so similar now, they tend to match any decor.

The 4th-gen Dot comes in charcoal, Glacier White, and Twilight Blue. You can also opt for a 4th-gen Echo Dot with Clock, which has an LED display that can show the time, temperature, or timer. The LED display also automatically adjusts in response to the lighting conditions in the room, so you can always see the display clearly.

There’s also the Echo Dot (4th-gen) Kids Edition, which features kid-friendly designs and content. Available in either a tiger or panda design, it comes with a year of Amazon Kids+, skills that allow children to learn, pre-approved friend and family access, and much more.

The Echo (4th-gen) also comes in three color schemes: Charcoal, Glacier White, or Twilight Blue. With a wide array of options, you’ll have no trouble finding one that fits your home’s decor.

Cost

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen, 2020 release)on a table with a yoga matt and water bottle.

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

The fourth-generation Dot costs $50 (with discounts lowering it down to $30 on some occasions). If you opt for an Echo Dot (4th-gen) with Clock, it’ll cost $60 (down to $35 with deals), while the Kids Edition costs $60 (with deals down to $35) as well. As for the Echo (4th-gen), it sells for $100, but we’ve seen discounts down to $60 for it.

Kid-friendly features on the Echo Dot

Echo Dot Kids Edition Featured panda and tiger models.
Amazon

The 4th-gen Echo model doesn’t really have any features dedicated specifically for kids, although kids can use it and be assigned their own Alexa Voice IDs. The Echo Dot is a different store entirely.

The Dot is also available in an Echo Dot for Kids version. In addition to the cute new skins for the speaker, the Dot comes with several additional features for parents. That includes a free year of Amazon Kids+ access, which includes a lot of skills, games, and other content featuring widely known characters from Disney and many other brands. Kids+ also includes access to many educational skills and Audible books that can be read allowed. There are also parental controls that do everything from set daily time limits to review past activity or create filters. Kids+ is $3 a year after the first free year.

Difference between Echo and Echo Dot

The differences between the latest versions of these devices come down to size, sound, and cost. If you’re just looking to be introduced to Alexa, you’ll be fine with the Echo Dot, especially if you only want a desktop companion. It even comes in a kid-friendly version that’s ideal for a child’s room. There’s also an LED clock option for the Dot that can make it a surprisingly effective alarm clock in your bedroom.

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock

While the two devices are fundamentally the same when it comes to accessing Alexa, music aficionados will want to side with the Amazon Echo. It delivers superior audio performance and it’s more capable of covering larger rooms. You can even pair two of them together for a stereo sound experience. Whereas the Echo Dot sounds underpowered in bigger spaces in the home or office, the Echo’s beefier audio hardware is better at delivering the necessary audio experience to blanket those areas. Yes, you’re paying more for the Echo (4th-gen), but audiophiles who take pride in audio quality won’t mind dishing out the money for it.

Amazon Echo

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