Amazon Echo: which one to choose
Amazon Echo devices are devices with different features that Amazon has developed to allow the use of Alexa in different contexts and for different needs. Faced with a family that has grown so much within a few years, the user is now faced with a welcome multitude of options: which Amazon Echo to choose?
Each device has its own peculiarities, but the discriminant can be twofold:
- If the display is considered useful, then you need to choose one of the devices that allow visual outputs, video calls and image-based features; otherwise it is advisable to avoid this type of device.
- If music is an important component, you need to choose one of the options that offer the best listening quality, otherwise you can opt for smaller components and lower cost.
Finally, there is the Input option, which is a solution in its own right and usable in defined contexts. Faced with the choice of which type of interaction with Alexa we intend to establish, therefore, it will be sufficient to scroll through the macroscopic characteristics and evaluate which Echo to buy (or which, given that the use of several units within the living space is a solution rather than plausible).
The Amazon Echo devices available are following:
- Amazon Echo – speaker only
- Echo Input
- Echo Dot
- Echo Plus
- Echo Stereo System (1 Echo Sub + 2 Echo or Echo Plus)
- Amazon Echo with display
- Echo Spot
- Echo Show
- Echo Show 5
These are the particular characteristics of the individual devices:
Amazon Echo Input
The smallest of the Echo is called Echo Input and looks like a simple small disk (80mm in diameter and 14mm in height). Connected via cable to the power supply, in order to perform its role it must be connected to an external speaker via bluetooth or 3.5 mm audio output: Echo Input is able to listen to the orders given thanks to the special built-in microphone , but at the same time it is not able to reproduce sounds since it is completely without speakers.
Echo Input is available in black or white colors and has a single luminous LED able to confirm the fact that the device is listening (useful element when the device is used not for listening to music, nor for vocal interaction, but for smart home control).
Echo Input is also the Echo family device with the lowest cost: presented at the official price of 39.99 euros, it was soon available at a price of 24.99 euros.
Amazon Echo Dot
Among the devices of the Echo family with loudspeaker, Amazon Echo Dot is the smallest: enclosed in a cylinder with a diameter of 99 mm and a height of 45 mm, Echo Dot offers a 41mm loudspeaker. The listening quality is not bad for a device with such small dimensions and not indifferent are above all the volume of reproduction (which allows the listening of Alexa even at a distance) and the sensitivity of the microphone (which allows both whispered commands, as well as commands given at a considerable distance). The confirmation of the listening of the user takes place by means of a luminous circle that surrounds the upper wall and that makes the state of attention of the device clearly visible.
Echo Dot is available on Amazon for 59.99 euros.
From the name it is possible to understand how Echo is the center of gravity of the whole family of Amazon speakers: available at a price of 99.99 euros, it is available in anthracite, light gray to adapt to any type of furniture.
Amazon Echo is a speaker cleverly designed to fill any room with a full, rich sound. Thanks to its seven microphones and beamforming technology, it can hear you from any direction, even while you’re listening to music.
Amazon Echo contains a 63mm down firing cavity sub-woofer and a 16mm up-firing cavity tweeter, the basic elements for good quality sound compared to lesser caliber devices.
Amazon Echo Plus
The “Plus” version of Amazon Echo, available at a price of 149.99 euros (also bundled with smart bulbs controllable via Alexa), is identical in size to the normal version, but offers an additional audio output and all the quality of an endowment with 76 mm woofer and 20 mm tweeter. A superior audio potential, in short, for those who intend to transform their Echo Plus into a terminal for quality listening – and therefore with particular attention to musical entertainment.
The device also promises full compatibility with compatible Zigbee terminals, which can put Echo Plus at the center of a smart home structured on this type of protocol.
Amazon Echo Sub
It is a version expressly designed for audio quality: in fact it is a subwoofer with a 6 ″ (152mm) down firing and a 100W class D amplifier that can be combined with a pair of Echo or Echo Plus for listening superior quality. It is larger than the other models, reaching 210 mm in diameter and 202 mm in height with a total weight of 4Kg.
Amazon puts it on standalone sale for 129.99 euros, or bundled with other traditional Echo speakers.
Amazon Echo Spot
Amazon Echo Spot is a small sphere that also has a small display with 64mm diameters. The fact that a display is available gives the small Echo Spot some additional qualities compared to the speaker-only devices: video calls, graphic interface, possibility of displaying another room in which there is an Alexa registered by the same user.
Echo Spot is available at a price of 129.99 euros and can be transformed into a bedside alarm clock, a monitor for the video door phone or a terminal for calls via Skype: the added value of the display allows an alternative use which, in the light of small screen size, however, requires a certain proximity between the user and the terminal.
Amazon Echo Show
It is a small tablet with an important audio compartment, or a small smart TV, or an advanced Echo Spot: however you look at it, Echo Show reveals itself as a category in itself, a device that can be many things in one.
You can project a clock like a recipe, the weather forecast as well as a video call, a music playlist like a series of photographs to turn it into a digital frame. But the possibilities are also many others, because the equipment is important and therefore it is up to the user to identify all the functions that can enrich the experience. We have tested it in the office as well as on a kitchen countertop, discovering new utilities from time to time.
The display is a 10-inch HD definition and touchscreen: since it is not equipped with a keyboard, Echo Show allows touch interaction which in some cases is particularly intuitive (for example, to scroll through a playlist without having to give voice orders). On the terminal it is also possible to reproduce films thanks to the integration of the Prime Video service.
Excellent performance of the audio sector, a dual 2 ″ neodymium stereo driver with passive radiator for bass and a Dolby processor. In terms of design, it looks like an old cathode ray tube TV, whose body is entirely occupied by the audio compartment. It offers dual-band WiFi dual antenna (MIMO), offers Bluetooth connectivity. The Amazon Show features are animated by Intel Atom X5-Z8350 processor and the video image quality is guaranteed by the 5MP front camera.
Amazon Echo Show is the most complete device in the range and is offered at a price of 229.99 euros.
Amazon Echo Show 5
To allow access to a smaller 16: 9 type display than the second-generation show, Amazon introduced the new Amazon Echo Show 5 in May 2019: the diagonal is 5.5 inches, the format is similar , the small size.
Among the important innovations that we highlight are some specific measures to protect privacy, with which video camera and microphone can be deactivated on specific command. Echo Show 5 is available in white and black with a price starting at 89.90 euros.
Alexa: other Echo and without Echo
The Echo family has already seen the birth of other devices, not yet arrived in Italy. These include, for example, Amazon Echo Auto, a device similar to the well-known Echo Input, but designed for use in the passenger compartment of a car. Echo Auto can, for example, allow voice control of the music in the car, as it can be connected to a routine that controls the opening of a gate when returning home.
In short, the range is destined to evolve, the current Echo will be presented renewed and Alexa is destined to become more and more pervasive even beyond the Echo range: already announced, for example, microwave ovens and other appliances that can be controlled remotely with voice commands and intelligent management of the Amazon assistant. On the occasion of the Google I / O 2019 Amazon explains that there are already 60,000 compatible devices, signed by 7400 different brands: the growth is very strong, in short, and the development of the smart assistant Alexa is therefore destined to continue thanks to an audience of users and an increasingly broader partner.