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Which Amazon Echo should you buy?

If you’re a fan of Alexa’s gentle tones and like using voice commands around your home — including setting up smart routines or enabling Alexa Guard for some extra safety while you’re away — then you may be thinking about getting an Amazon Echo smart speaker. Or maybe you want to give an Amazon Show to a family member or friend to make it easier to communicate with them. But what should you get?

There are quite a few Amazon Echo models available, with more arriving all the time, so we know it can be confusing to figure out the latest models and which may be the right pick for you. Don’t worry. Our guide is here to help with our picks for the best and newest Echos available, along with details on who they’re suited for.

Echo 4th-generation

Amazon Echo (4th Gen) on a kitchen counter.

This larger Echo speaker is the flagship model for the Amazon Echo line and an excellent place to start if you aren’t sure which one to get. For the fourth generation, Amazon reinvented the Echo’s design into an orb-like speaker with 360-degree audio and an indicator ring around the base.

The sound on this Echo is better than ever, capable of filling an entire room with sound, and it’s available in three different shades to match your home. That makes it a great pick for a central location where it can play music for the house or control a variety of smart gadgets with a few well-directed voice commands. It also supports Zigbee devices in addition to newer protocols, so it’s one of the better speakers for those who still have those around.

If you are worried about privacy, the Amazon Echo 4th-gen (and every other Echo on our list) comes with the ability to manually turn on the mic at any time, and you can always customize how Alexa listens to and saves your voice commands.

Finally, the Echo 4th-gen is reasonably priced compared to other smart speakers, which may make it a great entry device for someone who knows they like music while also wanting to get comfortable with Alexa.

Echo Dot 5th-gen

Echo Dot 5 in a kitchen.

The Echo Dot was already in a good spot, carefully mimicking the Echo 4th-gen with its smaller orb design, but the 5th-gen remake took it to another level, especially when it comes to better bass and improved sound overall. This little speaker can put out a surprising amount of music and makes a great companion for a desktop computer, etc.

But the sound wasn’t the only thing that Amazon updated with this model. It now has temperature and motion sensors, which you can link to specific smart devices, like automatically turning up a thermostat if a particular room is getting too cold or turning on smart lights when someone walks into a room. And if you use an Eero mesh router, this little speaker can even act as a satellite router to help you expand your coverage in areas where it may be poor.

That makes the Dot 5th-gen a perfect pick for somehow who already has an Echo or wants one specifically for their workspace, from desks and crafting tables to workbenches in the garage. It’s also a good choice for people who like smart homes in general and are happy to link up their smart devices.

Echo Dot with Clock 5th-gen

The Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) with Clock.

There are a couple of different varieties of the Echo Dot 5th-gen, each with its own specialties. This one, for example, comes with an LED clock face on the front. That makes it a great pick to serve as a bedside radio and alarm (alarms, morning routines, and LED brightness are all adjustable via the Alexa app) or anywhere else that you may want a visible clock. All the other capabilities of the Echo Dot 5th-gen are still here too, which means it has plenty of audio power and can help manage your smart home (plus those privacy features we mentioned that come with all the latest Echos).

Echo Dot Kids 5th-gen

Echo Dot Kids 5th-gen on a table.

This kids’ model does a few different things, too. First, it’s available in fun alternative skins like a round lil’ owl or a happy dragon (hey, if you like those better than the other colors, we won’t judge you for getting one for yourself, either). You can also pair it with the Echo Glow, which is a small nightlight orb that’s fun for play or keeping a bedroom illuminated. Finally, it comes with a free year of Amazon Kids+, a subscription for kid-friendly content on a platform designed for safety. Parents can use a wide variety of controls over what their kids can access or do, and it comes with a two-year guarantee in case of accidents.

Echo Studio

Amazon Echo Studio Alexa Smart Speaker on a table.

Those who take their audio seriously will want to turn to the Echo Studio. It takes up more room than the other models but comes with unparalleled sound thanks to five internal speakers and automatic tuning to adjust the sound to the room you are in. The Studio also continues to get important updates, such as the recent firmware update adding support for Spatial Audio powered by Dolby Atmos, available with an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription. It’s the best option for pairing with a home theater setup or for serious audiophiles.

Echo Dot 3rd-gen

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen, 2018 release) on a table with a lamp and book.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Yes, this puck-shaped Echo Dot is a few years out of date. But it’s also really, really affordable at around $18 the last time it went on discount, and it’s still widely available at places like Target and Best Buy. That makes this Echo a good choice for those on a tight budget, especially if you’re just dipping your foot into the voice assistant world and want to start small. Amazon also sells it as a bundle with a smart bulb, so you can use it to get started creating a smart home!

Echo Pop

Amazon Echo Pop in four colors.
Amazon / Amazon

The Echo Pop is one of the newest additions to the Echo family. It’s also the most affordable. Clocking in at just $40, it’s not looking to replace the Echo Studio or compete with premium smart speakers. Instead, it’s a great way to gain access to the Alexa smart assistant without spending too much cash.

It’s also a great-looking device, designed with a front-facing speaker, a unique light bar, and several available colors. That front-facing design is a bit limiting, however, as it can’t throw its sound across a room as well as the 360-degree Dot. But considering this is $10 cheaper ($20 compared to the Dot with Clock), it’s a minor trade-off. If you need a closer look at the two, be sure to check out our comparison of the Echo Dot and Echo Pop.

Our review of the Pop found it to be a surprisingly well-rounded little device. Its sound gets muddy when turned up too loud, but it should serve you well as an entry into the smart home world. As an added bonus, it also works as an Eero extender — giving you better wireless coverage throughout your house.

Echo Show

An Amazon Echo Show 8 sits on a wooden desk.
Nick Mokey / Digital Trends

Of course, there is another option for Echo fans: Echo Show devices, which add a touchscreen to the mix and enable a variety of streaming options, including shows, face chats, and slideshows. We’re big fans of models like the Echo Show 15, which is large enough to serve as a mini TV in places like your kitchen. The new Echo Show 8 is also a great choice, earning high marks for its impressive audio quality and vibrant screen.

There are several different Echo Show models to choose from, so you may want to take a look at our list of the best smart displays to further narrow down your options.

Editors' Recommendations

Tyler Lacoma
Former Digital Trends Contributor
If it can be streamed, voice-activated, made better with an app, or beaten by mashing buttons, Tyler's into it. When he's not…
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