Which Amazon Echo should you buy?

Inviting Alexa into your home? We'll help you pick the right Amazon Echo device

Let’s be honest: The sheer number of Amazon Echo devices available is a little overwhelming, and it’s OK if you’re confused about which one to get for yourself or for a loved one as a gift. While the Alexa voice assistant is the same for all the devices (for the most part), there are some things to consider when shopping, like, do you care about sound? Do you want a screen? Are you looking for a built-in smart home hub as well as a voice assistant?

We’re here to help. Here are the major players in current and upcoming Echo devices. We’ve included info on what each device does, who it’s good for, and other important information. Keep this list handy, and you’ll know exactly what to look for when shopping for an Echo device.

Echo 2nd generation ($100, but usually on sale for $90)

Amazon Echo 2017 review both colors
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

What it is: A Bluetooth smart speaker with built-in Alexa voice assistant. This is Amazon’s flagship Echo device, and features decent sound with a 2.5 inch woofer and 0.6 inch tweeter.

What it does: Everything Alexa does: plays music, answers questions, tells jokes, makes reminders and alarms, controls smart home devices – really, a little of everything. Alexa is a very versatile voice assistant that can connect with most smart devices (and things like Xbox) in your home. Learn more in our full review.

Who it’s for: People who don’t already have a Bluetooth speaker or voice assistant in their home, and don’t mind talking to a device.

Cost: $100 retail, but you can usually find it for $90 or less

Echo Dot 3rd generation ($50, but you can find it on sale for $30)

echo dot 2018 3rd generation
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

What it is: A tiny hockey-puck version of the Echo.

What it does: Everything the Echo does, but smaller – and with smaller sound. We should note that while it doesn’t sound as great as the original Echo, it does sound much better than its predecessor, the second generation Echo Dot. Check out our review for more information.

Who it’s for: The Dot can be used either as an affordable alternative to the Echo, or as a satellite speaker for it. However, it won’t be able to fill the room with sound like an Echo can, so it’s better for a desk or nightstand. You can also hook up speakers for stronger bass and treble. This is the best option for people just getting started with a smart home and who want to try out a voice assistant without breaking the bank.

Cost: You can usually find it for around $30

Echo Dot Kid’s Edition ($70)

Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition review
Kim Wetzel/Digital Trends

What it is: A slightly more expensive version of the Dot with a protective case and lively colors.

What it does: Everything the normal Dot does, but you get a free year of FreeTime Unlimited (kids radio stations, audiobooks, and other activities, which you can also buy with a regular Echo device for $84 per year for Prime members). Amazon also encourages you to use the Parent Dashboard for filters, blocks and other controls. In terms of sound quality, expect it to be the same as the second-generation Echo Dot. Read more in our full review.

Who it’s for: Parents who are worried about what kind of inappropriate content a kid might stumble upon during interactions with Alexa. With parental controls built in, you won’t get explicit lyrics or inappropriate content. It’s basically a mini radio, voice assistant and music player for kids. It may be useful as a transition device for kids who aren’t ready for a mobile device of their own yet.

Cost: $70, although it does go on sale from time to time.

Echo Plus 2nd generation ($150)

amazon echo plus 2nd gen
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

What it is: An advanced version of the Echo with a lower profile, better sound, a built-in temperature sensor, and Zigbee compatibility for smart home control.

What it does: Everything the Echo does, but with audio that fills a room with even better sound, and better compatibility for Zigbee devices, which makes it more likely that older smart devices will work with Alexa. This is Amazon’s best-sounding standalone speaker, boasting a three-inch neodymium woofer and 0.8 inch tweeter. Read more in our review.

Who it’s for: It’s $50 more than an Echo and offers a good boost in audio quality. It also gives you additional smart home connectivity. If sound and smart home connectivity is a priority for you, then this is a better alternative, or an excellent replacement, for an original Echo.

Cost: $150

Echo Show 2nd generation ($230)

Amazon Echo Show 2 Review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

What it is: An Echo with Alexa built in, but with a 10-inch touchscreen for looking at visual information, watching shows, taking video calls, and everything else a screen can do. It can also link to smart security cams like Nest and Ring around the home to show what’s going on.

What it does: The Show adds a visual aspect to the Echo, which opens up many new possibilities if you keep the Echo in a readily visible location. Many put it in kitchens to watch recipe videos. The second generation also has greatly improved speakers over the first-generation model, so you still get good audio. The Echo Show works with Amazon Video, Hulu, and other video services. You can ask Alexa what the weather is and also see results of the 7-day weather forecast on the screen. Find out more in our review.

Who it’s for: Those who like the idea of video calls, watching shows, or looking at visual information like recipes, how-to videos, and other similar content.

Cost: $230

Echo Spot ($130)

Amazon Echo Spot Review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

What it is: A small Echo Show with a round screen in the middle.

What it does: Technically it can do everything the Echo Show and all the Alexa-enabled speakers can, but the small round screen limits functionality for anything that needs a bigger, rectangular screen, like movies or more complex information. Many users place it on a desk or a nightstand, and it can be used as a baby monitor screen if you have a camera that works with Alexa. Learn more in our review.

Who it’s for: The Spot makes for a good alternative to an alarm clock or a video replacement for a central home phone. It can show time, weather, and other data, as well as control smart devices.

Cost: $130

Echo Sub ($130)

echo sub amazon review 7

What it is: An accessory device that adds a full subwoofer to your Echo. It’s not an Alexa speaker in its own right, but works with an Echo speaker to give you fuller sound.

What it does: The latest Echoes already have very good sound, but if you really want to take audio as far as it can go, the Sub will add much-needed base for the Echo or Echo Plus. You can even hook up two Echoes for broad right-and-left stereo sound. Read more in our review.

Who it’s for: If room-filling sound is important to you and you already have an Echo device, the Sub is a handy addition. This works best with the superior audio qualities of the Echo Plus.

Cost: $130

Echo Buttons ($20 for two)

Echo Buttons

What it is: A pack of two buttons that aren’t speakers in their own right, but pair with an Echo device to be used for gaming or quiz skills with Alexa.

What it does: Enable specific types of gameplay or customized games. Think of them as game show buzzers.

Who it’s for: People who are really, really into social game parties and have an Echo.

Cost: $20 for two

Echo Connect ($35)

Amazon Echo Connect

What it is: An Alexa device that connects to a compatible home phone.

What it does: It gives a compatible home phone—landline or VoIP—Alexa voice command capabilities. This allows you to call by naming someone in your contacts (you can also create a separate contact list with your phone). Alexa allows you to input basic digits for automated response calls, too.

Who it’s for: A very, very niche audience, primarily people who run a home business and need a home phone connection for making a lot of calls. Don’t buy this unless you are sure the phone system is compatible.

Cost: $35

Echo Look ($100)

Amazon Echo Look review
Erika Rawes/Digital Trends

What it is: An Echo camera – but wait, it’s not a security camera, it’s a style camera. That means…

What it does: It helps you take full selfies, compare outfits, and uses smart tech to recommend outfit pairings. If you log in all your outfits, it can even start to organize your wardrobe by weather, season, and occasion. You can share the results with your friends. Learn more in our review.

Who it’s for: You already know if this will be a good fit or not. Instagram-obsessed people are more likely to love it. On the other hand, this level of outfit organization isn’t for everyone, and the price is pretty high.

Cost: $100

Echo Input ($35)

four reasons you should buy the amazon echo input

What is it: A device that allows you to turn any regular speaker into an Alexa-enabled speaker.

What it does: This device adds Alexa to any speaker by connecting via 3.5 mm audio cable or via Bluetooth. This means you can add Alexa to a speaker you already own without having to shell out a lot of cash. Echo Input can do many of the things a regular Alexa can do. Calling and drop in via Bluetooth is not supported as of yet, though.

Who’s it for: Anyone who has dumb old speakers in their homes that they no longer use, or anyone who wants a small and low-profile gadget that can add Alexa capabilities to their existing equipment.

Price: $35

Echo Auto ($50, available by invitation only at $25)

amazon event takeaways echo auto press

What it is: An Echo dash-mounted device that provides Alexa compatibility for your car. Amazon introduced this device at its event in September 2018, and it’s currently available by invitation only.

What it does: It brings all the Alexa features to the car without requiring a built-in dashboard. That includes audio books, news reports, weather reports, and connecting with nearby smart devices for your door and garage.

Who it’s for: Big Alexa fans who also have cars. The cost is also low, opening this device up to a wider audience than some Echo devices.

Cost: $50 retail, but as of January 23, 2019, it’s available by invitation only for $25

Echo Link ($200)

Echo Link

What it is: A device that gives stereo systems Alexa capabilities and streaming music. Amazon introduced this device at its event in September 2018.

What it does: Connects to stereos through a variety of inputs (pretty much anything will be compatible here). Then you can give Alexa commands and play streaming music services through that stereo.

Who it’s for: Someone who loves their old music system and who doesn’t want to update it, but also likes voice commands and streaming service. And we mean really loves their system, because this is a really pricey device that doesn’t do much otherwise.

Cost: $200

Echo Link Amp (Not yet available for pre-order)

how to pre order new amazon echo devices link amp 2018

What it is: Just like the Echo Link, but also with a 60W x 2-channel amplifier. Amazon introduced this device at its event in September 2018, but we still don’t know when it will be available to the public.

What it does: Provides an amp, Alexa voice commands, and streaming services for a music system.

Who it’s for: The Amp is more expensive, but also has more usability than the original Link. We can see it having a place in a studio setup or musician’s system.

Cost: $300


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