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Amazon Echo vs. Echo Dot: Battle of siblings

The Echo and the Echo Dot are two of the most popular smart speakers available. Amazon came out with updated versions of both Alexa-powered speakers, the Echo (4th Generation) and the Echo Dot (4th Generation), during its September 2020 event.

Should you go with the 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.

If you’re hoping for a discount on these devices, take a look at our coverage of the best Black Friday deals for the smart home going on now.

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 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 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 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.

Size, looks, and portability

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

There are several versions of the Echo Dot (4th Gen).

The third-generation 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. In the past, these two smart speakers featured totally different designs, but now they both follow a similar spherical design with a light-up LED around their base. Neither are technically travel friendly due to their larger designs (versus what they were in the past), so they’re meant to be left stationary in your home on shelves and desks.

Sound quality

Amazon Echo

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. Butit still doesn’t compare to the performance of 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. 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
John Velasco / Digital Trends

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

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 a 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, preapproved friend and family access, and much more.

The Echo (4th Gen) comes in three color schemes: Charcoal, glacier white, or twilight blue. With a wide array of looks to choose from, you’ll have no trouble finding one that fits your home’s decor.

Cost

Echo Dot Kids Edition Featured
Amazon

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 fourth-generation Dot costs $50 retail, but you can expect discounts and package deals in the coming months that should knock its price down. If you opt for an Echo Dot (4th Gen) with Clock, it’ll cost you $60 (retail), while the Kids Edition costs $60 as well. As for the Echo (4th Gen), it 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 speaker to either device for richer sound. 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.

And quite simply, it’s the distinction that separates it from its sibling.

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. That’s because it delivers the superior audio performance between the two, and it’s more capable in covering larger rooms. You can even pair two of the 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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