[Review] Alexa, Should I Order the New Echo Speakers? Indeed, You Should
Amazon has been spearheading the spread and adoption of smart home devices with their Alexa integrated speakers. Amazon Echo speakers have gained a lot of popularity due to their usefulness and the fact that they are available in multiple variants across various price points. This means you don’t have to spend a fortune to get yourself into the smart ecosystem. Every year, Amazon updates its speakers with some new features and this year is no different. We have the affordable Echo Dot (3rd gen) and the more powerful Echo (3rd gen) with us which we have been using for the past few weeks, and here is what we think about Amazon’s new smart speakers. We will also be comparing them with their last-gen versions to see if it’s worth upgrading.
Amazon Echo Dot with Clock
Let’s begin with the hockey puck. The Echo Dot is the smallest of the standalone speakers that Amazon makes. Its size makes it a perfect desk accessory, and the aesthetics complement any sort of setup that you may have. Just like the previous version, the new Echo Dot also has a grey fabric exterior that looks elegant. The top is a white plastic with volume and mute controls. The circumference of the top circle has an LED strip that gets triggered each time Alexa is performing a task. There are four microphones on the top in four different directions to help with voice recognition. The rear of the speaker has an AUX port if you wish to connect the Echo Dot with another speaker and a DC-in port.
While we’ve covered all aspects of the exterior of the new Echo Dot, the most important and most welcome new addition is the digital clock on the front which is seamlessly integrated on the fabric surface. The clock is extremely handy especially if you have the Echo Dot on your desk or as a bedside accessory. Amazon also seems to have put in an ambient light sensor, as we observed that the brightness of the LED display was automatically dimmed when the lights in the room were turned off. Nice addition. The display also shows outdoor temperature and timers.
On the speaker side of things, there isn’t a lot of improvement when compared to the last-gen Echo. The sound just feels a little bit fuller and bass is ever-so-slightly better. It’s still good to fill a moderately sized room though. If you have additional speakers lying around, you can connect the Echo Dot to make the experience better.
The Amazon Echo is the larger, more advanced and better-sounding elder sibling with a dedicated emphasis on the speaker quality. It, of course, has all the goodness of the Echo Dot, minus the LED display (wonder why they didn’t include that, though) and offers a speaker experience that is bound to impress you if you love loud music. The exterior essentially looks like an elongated version of the Echo Dot. There are 7 microphones instead of 4 for better far-field voice recognition and it’s evident especially when you use the wake-word while you’re playing a song at high volume levels.
Coming back to sound quality, the Echo has a 3” woofer and a 0.8” tweeter which in unison produces great sound output. Our Echo was kept on one corner of the living room and at 80% volume, the speaker was ample loud for a mini house party, or at 100%, you could even use it for vengeance against your neighbor. Just kidding, don’t do that. Apart from being loud, the sound is rich and that’s thanks to Dolby Audio being in-built on the speaker. You also get 360-degree surround sound with heavy bass.
Just like the Echo Dot, the Echo also has an AUX port, but this one also has AUX-in along with AUX-out which can be handy if you wish to play music from a device that does not have Bluetooth connectivity. If you are a music aficionado, the Amazon Echo is a great speaker to have. You can even get multiple to link together and form a stereo pair if you want to take the experience up a notch.
Apart from the ability to plays songs, of course, the Echo and Echo Dot speakers can do much more with Alexa’s skills. You can control connected devices like lamps and smart switches, make calls to other Echo devices and even book a cab and ask for news updates. There are various third-party skills too that you can enable, and we even have a dedicated article to a few of our favorites that you can find here.
Moreover, if you are in India, Alexa can now communicate in Hindi and Hinglish too which is a bonus. More regional languages will be added soon, but for now, conversing in Hindi sees quite fun! The replies are hilarious at times so enjoy experimenting with questions! From our testing, Alexa in Hindi works better than Google Assistant in Hindi for the most part which is quite surprising and a big deal. If you have an Audible subscription, you can even listen to Audio Books on the Echo.
The Amazon Echo Dot retails for Rs. 3,999 in India and for that price, you’re getting a good Bluetooth speaker with the intelligence of Alexa, and now even an LED display to replace your bedside clock. The bigger Echo retails for Rs. 9,999 and this is something you should consider if you’re serious about sound quality. The bass is heavy and sound clarity is great so if you are an audiophile, this is the one to go for. Pair it with some smart home devices, and you will start enjoying the ecosystem.