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Before we discuss why you’d get one speaker over the next, let’s cover the major features that you get with all three. If you’re familiar with smart speakers, skip this section. Here’s a short list of what you’ll get with the Echo 2, Google Home, and Echo Plus
– Voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
– Built-in speaker system to respond to commands and to play music
– Microphone array to listen for commands
– Physical buttons or touch system on top to control the speaker manually
– Wired – No portable options at this time
– Ability to stream music natively via Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora and others (Echo defaults to Amazon Music / Google Home to Google Play Music)
– If prompted, they can relay the news, sports updates, weather info, and current traffic conditions
– Ability to control smart lights, cameras, thermostats, and more
– Start/stop timers
– Shop via voice search (Echo with Amazon.com and Google Home with Walmart.com)
– Calling feature…here’s a demo of how it works with Google
As you can see, they have quite a lot in common such that regardless of which device you get you’ll be able to do the basics. But what’s with the Echo 2?
Why get Amazon Echo 2nd Generation vs Google Home or Echo Plus?
The biggest advantage that the Echo 2 has is price. It has an MSRP of $100 while the Google Home and Echo Plus are $130 and $150, respectively. On price alone, the Echo 2 is the one to go with. Everything else below, applies to the Echo and Echo Plus equally; Price is really only big reason to get the Echo 2 over the Echo Plus. You can see the Echo 2 on Amazon.
The Echo 2 and Echo Plus also have really good sound quality. It’s clear and gets loud enough for the average bear. If you plan to listen to music with the speaker, the Echo 2 will do just fine. We do prefer the sound quality of the Sonos One Speaker, but the Echo is good enough for us and we would pick the Echo over the Google Home in the sound department.
The Echo handles the high volumes much better and just in general has better clarity. The Google Home has more bass and sounds pretty good overall, but the Echo gets the win here for sure.
Also, since the Echo and Echo Plus have very similar internal hardware components, the sound quality is very similar between the two speakers—so much so that we’d say they’re pretty much even here. Both sound good, but lack deep bass.
The shopping feature also happens to be smoother and better implemented with the two Echo devices. Google has a partnership that allow you to shop for items on Walmart.com, but this is still fairly new and isn’t up to par with Amazon’s shopping features. This is a minor point for a lot of people, but I do occasionally find myself asking Alexa to add batteries or protein bars to my cart.
Amazon supports more smart devices than does Google, although Google supports the same category of products and most of the major brands. As an example, there are dozens of Alexa-enabled smart lighting products on Amazon from small brands and large brands such as Philips and TP-Link. Google only directly supports the larger brands. If you’re not a smart home enthusiast or plan to stick with a select few brands, you’ll be fine with Google, but just know that there are vastly more Alexa-enabled devices.
Further, there are more games and skills available to you with Alexa. This is a minor point, but it’s another reason you might just default to Amazon. There are a number of trivia games and fringe skills that you get with Alexa, while Google is extremely limited in this area.
And lastly, both Echo devices have an AUX Out port and can be paired with external Bluetooth speakers if you’d like to listen to your music with different speakers. With Google, in order to pair it with other speakers you need a Chromecast Audio device – See at Walmart. Not a big deal, but you will need to get another device if you’d like to do this with Google.
UPDATE: Google Home speakers can now pair with Bluetooth speakers – this is as of 3/29/18.
What’s the verdict with the Echo 2?
It’s really in the sweet spot between being affordable, usable, and sounding good enough. If you simply plan to listen to music and do the basics with a smart speaker, the Echo 2 is really hard to beat for the price.
If the Amazon Echo 2 is so great, why would you even consider the Google Home? Well there are a few fairly compelling reasons beyond wanting to avoid giving Amazon total control.
So why get Google Home over the Amazon Alexa devices?
The first reason is design. Although this is subjective and minor, we do prefer the overall look of the Google Home. You can also even swap out the fabric base of the Google Home if you’d like a different color. With Amazon, there aren’t any customization options.
I’ve also found that Google Assistant is more accurate with answering your requests than Alexa. Speed is similar, but Google tends to get things correctly more often. Also, just in case you were wondering, the Google Assistant feature is the same on the Google Home as on the Google Home Mini. If you’re interested in how they compare, here’s our Google Home vs Google Home Mini post.
Google also has a language translation service, which is pretty neat. You can actually ask Google to translate your speech into different languages. From what I can tell, it works pretty well and I can could see this being a handy feature in any situation where you’re trying to communicate with someone that doesn’t understand English.
Last up here, if you have a Google Chromecast or other Google products, it may just make sense to stay in the family. You don’t lose much going with Google so you may find that it makes sense to stick with one brand.
What’s the verdict with the Google Home vs Echo 2 & Echo Plus?
It’s in the middle in terms of pricing and it has most of the same features, but nothing that truly makes it stand out. It’s a solid purchase, but it’s not must-have type of product. Also, just in case you’re curious, here’s Google’s official video for the Google Home.
We’ve pretty much covered everything there is to know at this point, so why even bother with the Echo Plus? Well, it does actually pack one stand out feature.
What’s with the Amazon Echo Plus vs Google Home & Echo 2?
Virtually everything that we’ve said about the Echo 2 applies to the Echo Plus, aside from the Echo Plus has a built-in Zigbee bridge for connecting to various smart home devices. There are a lot of devices that work with Wi-Fi, however, when you’re outfitting an entire home, that’s a lot of devices on your Wi-Fi network. Even more, range can be an issue with Wi-Fi. As such, there are two major network communication technologies beyond Bluetooth and Wi-Fi that smart home devices utilities: Z-Wave and Zigbee.
The Echo Plus has Zigbee built-in, which essentially eliminates the need for a separate Zigbee bridge. There are only a limited number of products that use Zigbee, but surely more will pop up since Amazon has bet on the technology.
What’s the verdict with the Echo Plus?
Beyond Zigbee, the Echo Plus is basically the Echo 2 in a different casing. As such, if you really think you’ll use the smart home features and see yourself investing in Zigbee devices, it might be smart to go with the Echo Plus. If not, and you only want to listen to music, go Echo 2.