Echo Dot: $50
- Measuring 1.3×3.3×3.3 inches, the Echo Dot has a 0.6-inch speaker inside to play music, but its compact size doesn't make it the best music maker. However, the device has an audio-out port for connecting to whatever other speakers and sound system you may have, and it works with Bluetooth speakers as well. That means you can connect your favorite sound device to the Echo Dot, ask Alexa to play tunes from Spotify, iHeartRadio, or other sources, and the Echo Dot will play those tracks through your favorite speaker.
- Buy this if: you want Alexa but don't want to spend a lot of money.
- Don't buy this if: you want a high-quality speaker.
- The device that started it all got an update this year with the new Amazon Echo. Not only did Amazon lower the price of the Echo to $100, but the new device has an updated speaker system, improved far-field microphones for Alexa to use to hear you, and a refined design that makes it look more like a home furnishing than a piece of technology. The new Echo sounds better than the original, but it's not our favorite smart home speaker in terms of audio quality. However, if you're upgrading from a smartphone speaker or a cheap Bluetooth device, the Echo will be a solid speaker capable of filling a few rooms with sound.
- The major case to be made for the Echo is that it's a decent speaker that also houses Alexa. If you purchase an Echo Dot, there's no question that you'll want to connect it to a better sound system—it's built to be more of a home for Alexa than a good speaker. On the other hand, the Echo is meant to provide both of those features at a relatively affordable price. If you're not a stickler for sound quality and just want a decent speaker with Alexa, the Echo is a solid device. You can connect the Echo to a larger speaker system as well, as it has the same audio-out port that the Echo Dot has.
- Buy this if: you want the most Alexa features for a decent price.
- Don't buy this if: you want access to Alexa skills that use a screen.
Echo Plus: $170
- The Echo Plus may look familiar because it has a design that's nearly identical to the original Echo. But the new $170 device is a bit different from the original and its now-updated counterpart: the Echo Plus' standout feature is its built-in Zigbee smart home hub. This technology lets the Echo Plus act as a smart home hub, removing the need for other, separate smart home hubs for various devices. For example: most Philips Hue lightbulbs need to be connected via the Hue hub, a small, square device that bridges the gap between the Hue mobile app and your smart lights, as well as the smart lights and your home network.
- Buy this if: you're eager to build a smart home with many Zigbee-compatible devices.
- Don't buy this if: the smart home devices you have or want don't use Zigbee protocol.
Echo Tap: Not Available in Canada
Echo Show: Not Available in Canada
Echo Look: Not Available in Canada
Echo Show Spot: Not Available in Canada (Launches next week in the U.S.)