Amazon Echo vs. Dot: What’s the difference?

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Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Remember the days when Amazon was a humble online bookstore? Years later, the company has branched out into creating voice-activated digital assistants in the form of smart speakers that can switch off your lights or read you the news. Having the ability to say “Alexa” and have all your questions answered may be nothing short of futuristic, but with different Amazon devices all offering the same Alexa voice assistant, which should you get?

Both the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot have the same seven 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. Let’s break it down in our our Amazon Echo vs. Dot showdown.

First, let’s talk about Alexa

Both the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Plus, and Echo Dot come with Amazon’s voice control assistant, Alexa. You can ask Alexa to read the news, do math problems, report the weather, play music, and a lot more Alexa skills. Just use the wake word, which is “Alexa” by default. With 360-degree omnidirectional microphones, both devices are designed with always-listening to hear you from anywhere in the room. Got music playing? No worries, Alexa will still hear you over the sound of you blasting “Hotline Bling” via your echo devices.

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There are lots of smart technology options on the market these days that are compatible with the Echo and Echo Dot. From Nest thermostats to Philips Hue lighting systems, you can control your smart home systems directly from your Amazon devices or with the Alexa App.

Size, looks, and portability

While the original Echo and the Echo Dot are about the same in diameter (the Echo is 3.5 centimeters, while the Dot is 3.3), the Echo and Echo Plus are much taller and heavier than the Dot, comparable to the Google Home. Think of the Echo as a cylindrical device. The Echo Dot, on the other hand, weighs less than half a pound and looks like a bit of a thick hockey puck, much like the Google Home Mini. The Echo is heavier at 1.8 pounds.

The Echo Dot is also just a fraction of the Echo’s height, with the Dot clocking in at 1.3 inches and the Echo at 5.8 inches. 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.

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Sound quality

While both devices have a built-in speaker, the Dot’s Bluetooth speaker is no match for the Echo’s larger, higher-quality, 360-degree one, which can blast music for you until the cows come home. Plus, the speakers now come with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and dynamic bass response for even better sound quality.

To fit into the Dot’s tiny body, its accompanying speaker is very small, and therefore, less powerful. The sound quality will be comparable to that of your smartphone. However, keep in mind the Dot wasn’t designed to put out good-quality sound. The speakers are good enough to play an alarm to wake you up and respond to your questions via Alexa, for example.

Both devices are now built with a 3.5 mm output jack, so you can connect them to an external speaker using an audio cable that will boost the sound quality.

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Aesthetics

Wondering which one will fit in better with the existing furniture and technology in your home? The Dot comes in just two colors, black or white. The Echo, however, is available in six different color schemes. Two have a wooden finish (walnut or oak), three are fabric (charcoal, heather gray, or sandstone), and one is a metallic silver. With a wide array of looks to choose from, you’ll probably have no trouble finding one that fits your home’s decor.

Cost

When deciding which Amazon Alexa device to purchase, cost is probably one of the number-one factors people will consider. If budget is a concern, know that the Dot is less than half the price of the Echo and offers the same functionalities. The Dot will cost you $40 right now, , while the Echo is available for $85.

Conclusion

Basically, the only difference between the two echo devices, other than size, is sound. If you’re just looking to be introduced to Alexa and don’t need a speaker for music, you’ll be fine with the Echo Dot. It has all the smarts of Alexa in a small speaker. If you do want to be able to play music, however, consider chipping in a bit more for the Echo. Keep in mind when putting together your shopping list that you can connect any smart speaker to either device for richer quality sound. If you’re just looking to pick up an Echo to create a multi-room, Alexa-enabled experience then the Echo Dot is a great addition. It even comes in a kid-friendly version if you want to put it in your child’s room.

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