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Google Nest Audio vs. Amazon Echo

Google Nest and Amazon announced new iterations of their smart speakers at their respective fall 2020 hardware events. With the release of both the Google Nest Audio and the Amazon Echo 4th generation speaker, you may be wondering which device is better? We evaluate the 4th gen Amazon Echo and the Google Nest Audio to see which device has superior looks, features, and sound quality.

Design

Image of Echo 4th gen, 16:9 scale

The Echo 4th gen looks vastly different than previous Echo iterations, with a totally new spherically shaped design. It sits 5.69 x 5.3 inches, and it weighs slightly more than two pounds. The Echo 4th gen comes in charcoal, glacier white, or twilight blue color options, and it has a fabric design made of earth-friendly materials like post-consumer recycled plastics, post-consumer recycled fabric, and recycled die-cast aluminum.

While the Echo went from cylindrical to spherical, the Google Nest Audio takes on a more rectangular shape. Sitting 6.89 inches tall, 4.89 inches wide, and 3.07 inches in depth, the Nest Audio appears larger than the Echo. At 2.65 pounds, it’s also heavier than its Amazon competitor. The Nest Audio offers more color options than the Echo, with chalk, charcoal, sage, sand, and sky colors to choose from. But, like the Amazon Echo, the Nest Audio is made of earth-friendly materials, with a fabric design made of 70% recycled plastic.

Both the Echo and the Nest Audio feature a mic-off button to promote privacy, but the Nest Audio has a two-stage hardware mute-mic switch. And, while the Nest Audio has dots that light up to indicate activity, the Echo retains the ever-popular light ring.

Sound quality


Both the Echo 4th gen and the Google Nest Audio received significant sound upgrades over their predecessors. The Echo 4th gen boasts a 3-inch neodymium woofer and two 0.8-inch tweeters, and the audio software helps tune the sound to a specific space. The Echo supports Dolby Audio, and it includes a 3.5 mm line in/out jack for connecting external audio devices — this is something many Google speakers (including the Nest Audio) notoriously lack.

The Nest Audio has a 75 mm (2.95-inch) woofer and 19 mm (0.75-inch) tweeter, with the ability to adapt sound to the room. Google claims the “Nest Audio is 75% louder than the original Google Home, and has 50% stronger bass.” You can pair two Nest Audio speakers together for stereo sound, and whole-home audio lets you seamlessly move your tunes from one Nest smart speaker or display to another in your home. The Echo supports a similar feature called multi-room music, which lets you play your music on compatible Echo devices in different rooms.

Features


One of the biggest additions to the Echo 4th gen is the Zigabee hub, which was previously reserved for the Echo Plus speaker. The Echo 4th gen includes a built-in Zigabee Hub, as well as a temperature sensor. Amazon also announced features like Care Hub, which lets you check in on aging family members, and Alexa Guard Plus, which is a more advanced, subscription-based version of Amazon’s Alexa Guard feature.

The Nest Audio speaker does not include a built-in hub, but it does boast a 1.8 Ghz Quad Core A53 processor with a high-performance ML hardware engine.

The Echo is powered by Alexa, which is compatible with more smart home products than Google Assistant. However, most popular brands are compatible with Google Assistant, and compatibility is becoming less and less of a concern.

Cost and availability

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Both speakers — the Nest Audio and the Echo 4th gen — retail for the same price of $100. Both speakers are available for pre-order right now, but Amazon’s Echo 4th gen releases on October 22, 2020, while the Google Nest Audio releases on October 5, 2020.

Which is better?

Image of Echo 4th gen, 16:9 scale

Although we haven’t formally tested these speakers just yet, we have our eyes on the Echo 4th gen because of the sound improvements and the addition of the Zigabee hub. We’re not counting out the Nest Audio, though, as Google Home speakers tend to have exceptional audio tuning software. We’ll update this post as we play with these speakers in the coming months.

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