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This one of the most simple comparisons we’ve posted. Mostly because there is a clear differentiation between the three products when it comes to hardware. We’ll cover that down below, but for now, if you’re new to the smart home game, here’s what you’ll get regardless of which Echo device you select.
– Voice control via Amazon Alexa
– Built-in speaker to respond to commands and to play music
– Microphone array to hear commands
– AUX port and ability to pair with Bluetooth speaker
– Physical buttons on top, just in case you get sick of voice commands
– Wired. Not portable.
– Ability to stream music via Amazon Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and others
– Ability to relay the news, sports updates, weather info, and current traffic conditions
– US calling feature
– Skills for integration with 3rd party devices
– Ability to control smart lights, cameras, thermostats, and more
– Start/stop timers
– Voice shopping on Amazon (i.e. Alexa can add various items to your cart)
That’s a short list of most of what you’ll do with an Echo device, but what sets the Echo Dot apart?
The price is right with the Echo Dot
The first thing is the Echo Dot has an MSRP of $50, where as the Echo 2 is $100 and Echo Plus is $150. Based solely on price, the Echo Dot is the way to go. At $50, the Echo Dot makes a great gift and is also an economical way to outfit a larger house or multiple houses with Alexa. And what’s even better is that we regularly see deals on the Echo Dot to where it’s actually selling for less than $50. You can check Amazon for current pricing.
The Echo Dot is tiny
It’s the smallest of the three devices, but in all honesty, that doesn’t really matter. It’s an advantage, but barely. It’s about the same size as the Google Home Mini speaker.
So why get the Echo Dot?
There’s really only one reason to get the Echo Dot: you plan to get several of them. The price makes the Echo Dot irresistible, but it’s built-in speaker is garbage. Therefore you have to plan to outfit an entire house and either not care about the audio quality or plan on pairing them with a Bluetooth speaker or wired speaker.
So what upgrades do the Echo 2nd Generation 2017 make?
Well, compared to the original Echo smart speaker, the 2nd generation looks nicer, if you ask us. It’s also smaller. Beyond that, it has a new speaker system from Dolby that sounds much better than the speaker on the original and the Echo Dot.
Above is a picture of the new Dolby sound system. It now has a 2.5″ subwoofer and 0.6″ tweeter. The audio quality is good on the Echo 2, but it’s not great. It’s clear and crisp, but lacks bass so the depth really isn’t there as compared to the Sonos One Speaker.
New design of Echo 2
The Echo has a fabric exterior that provides no real practical advantage other than that it looks somewhat nicer versus the older generation and Echo Dot.
Bottom line, why get the Echo 2?
This is the Echo to go with if you’re mostly getting a smart speaker for listening to music. It sounds vastly better than prior Echo models and the Echo Dot.
The Echo Plus is basically the Echo 2 + Zigbee smart hub to connect with various smart home devices, including Philips Hue, Kwikset locks, and others. For right now, the list of compatible devices is short, but it will definitely grow.
The whole sell with the Echo Plus is that normally when you get a Philips Hue lightbulb, for example, you need a bridge to allow it to be controlled remotely since it uses Zigbee and not Wi-Fi. The Echo Plus has that bridge built-in. It’s still not as robust a device as SmartThings from Samsung or Wink 2, but that’s certainly where Amazon is looking to go with the Echo Plus.
Beyond the smart hub feature, the Echo Plus is the Echo 2 in a different container. The audio quality is good, but not fantastic and it has all of the features of the other two Amazon Echo devices.