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

Which is better, the original Echo or the Echo Dot? We compare them

amazon alexa powered audio gear subwoofer amplifier echo plus dot charcoal side table

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 your questions answered may be nothing short of futuristic, but with different Amazon Echo devices all offering the same voice assistant, which one should you get?

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. Let’s break it down in our Amazon Echo vs. Dot showdown.

Echo Dot
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

First, let’s talk about Alexa

The Amazon Echo 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. You can even create your own skills on either device using Alexa Blueprints.

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 2nd gen Echo has a seven-microphone array, the third-gen 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 Nest thermostats to Philips Hue lighting systems, and you can control your smart home systems directly from your Amazon devices or with the Alexa App.

Size, looks, and portability

echo dot 2018 3rd generation
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

While the original Echo and the Echo Dot are almost the same in diameter, the current versions have larger differences in their diameters. The second-gen Echo is 3.4 inches in diameter, while the third-gen Dot is 3.9 inches in diameter — a difference of a half-centimeter. Echo is much taller and heavier than the Dot too. Think of the Echo as a cylindrical device.

The Echo Dot is more lightweight, and it looks like a bit of a thick hockey puck. The third-gen Echo Dot is slightly heavier than its predecessors, weighing 10.6 oz. The most recent iteration of the Echo is even heavier at 1.8 pounds.

The Echo Dot is also just a fraction of the Echo’s height, with the current Dot clocking in at 1.7 inches and the current 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.

Sound quality

Echo bundle smart home deals

While both devices have a built-in speaker, the Echo’s larger, higher-quality, 360-degree speaker 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. The third-gen Echo Dot has improved sound quality over the older Dots, adding a larger drive, and sounding significantly louder than the previous models. 

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

Aesthetics

Amazon Echo 2017 review top
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

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

The third-gen Dot comes in charcoal, heather grey, or sandstone. 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

best tech gifts under 50 echo dot 3rd gen image

When deciding which Amazon Alexa device to purchase, cost is probably one of the number-one factors people 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 new third-gen Dot costs $50 retail, but you can sometimes find it available on sale for around $30. The Echo second-gen sells for $100 retail, but you can sometimes find it on sale for between $70 and $75.

Conclusion

Basically, the only difference between the two echo 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 quality 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. Amazon also released the Echo Input, which allows you to add Alexa to your old existing speaker and retails for even less than the Echo Dot.

Deals

Amazon cuts prices on Echo Dot, Ring security, Fire Tablets, and more for Easter

Amazon slashed prices with deals on Echo Dot, Ring video doorbell and security systems, and Fire Tablets. Some of the best deals are for multiple-unit purchases. Most Ring deals include a free Echo Dot in addition to healthy price cuts.
Smart Home

From the kitchen to the bedroom, here are the best Alexa tips and tricks

Amazon's voice assistant Alexa has plenty of neat skills. So many, in fact, it seems like new ones appear every day. We've rounded up the top Echo tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.
Music

Amazon rumored to be launching free music-streaming service

Rumors are swirling that Amazon is planning to take on Spotify by launching its own free, ad-supported music streaming service. This seems to be a move aimed at Echo users in particular.
Smart Home

How to stop Amazon from listening to your Alexa recordings

All of your interactions with Alexa are recorded and saved, and Amazon can listen to your Alexa conversations. Here’s how to stop Amazon from listening to those recordings, but still enjoy your Echo device.
Smart Home

Google Home Hub smart display will reportedly be renamed the Google Nest Hub

Insiders reportedly familiar with Google's plans confirmed the Google Home Hub will be rebranded Google Nest Hub. Citing accidental leaks in the Google Store about the Nest Home Max, informed sources suggest a May 7 launch date.
Smart Home

Alexa, Google, Siri put their bilingual skills to the test in translation battle

One Hour Translation, an online translation company, compared how Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Siri stack up against one another in regard to translation capabilities. The results may surprise you.
Deals

Amazon drops prices on Nespresso coffee and espresso machines

Amazon has dropped prices on Nespresso coffee machines and a milk frother in an Easter week sale. Nespresso's coffee appliances use single-serve capsules and one-button selection to produce barista-quality espresso and coffee at home.
Emerging Tech

Drown out noisy neighbors and rest easy with these white noise machines

Some people are more sensitive to sound during sleep than others. Luckily, there are a number of white noise machines on the market to mask the noise. Here are our five of our current favorites.
Smart Home

Whip it, blend it, and mix it up with the best hand mixers of 2019

A stand mixer takes up a lot of room on the counter, and it can also be quite expensive. Need an option that's not only affordable but also takes up very little real estate in your kitchen cabinets? Check out these hand mixers.
Smart Home

Power through your afternoon slump with the best espresso machines

Brew professional-style espresso drinks and become the envy of your neighborhood with one of the best espresso machines on the planet. We have options across a range of price points, perfect for any budget.
Smart Home

Watch: Police responding to an alleged buglary find a Roomba, not a robber

Police officers in Washington County, Oregon responded to a call of a potential burglary and were surprised to find the perpetrator was actually just a Roomba. Body cam footage of the encounter has been released.
Deals

Amazon slashes Easter Week prices for Dyson vacuums and air purifiers

Amazon slashed the prices on many Dyson high-tech products, including vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, and more for Easter Week. Dyson's premium household tools attract millions of fans and Amazon took deep discounts on popular products.
Smart Home

What you need to know before buying a new washer and dryer

Washers and dryers are big, expensive appliances that you'll want to last for decades. Our buying guide will help you sift through all the options and find the best machines for you.
Deals

Amazon and Best Buy halve the price of the Facebook Portal for Mother’s Day

Amazon and Best Buy both cut the price in half for the Facebook Portal smart display for Mother's Day. The Portal's smart camera will follow you as you move around the room during video calls. The Portal also has Amazon Alexa built in.