Amazon has launched several different versions of the Echo smart speaker, all packing the Alexa assistant but very different specs, styles and features. Here we compare the Echo Plus, updated 2017 Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, Echo Show and the other speakers that you can buy right now, to see which might be best for you.
Which is the best Amazon Echo device for me? That’s the question that’s fast becoming more difficult to answer with every new release from Amazon.
The Alexa-powered gadget revolution has well and truly reached peak levels, with more hardware available than ever. Amazon now has a mighty line-up of smart home gadgets powered by voice controls, which now includes (deep breath): the new Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, Echo Show, Echo Connect, Echo Buttons and Amazon Fire Fire TV 4K.
All of these gadgets have Alexa on board, giving you voice control over your music, lights, heating, cameras, calendars and plenty more besides. Some also have screens allowing for deeper levels of smart home integration. But which is best for you?
Want to know more about the Echo family and what Alexa can do for you? Check out our in-depth Echo tips and tricks guide to see more about the best and hidden speaker features.
Amazon Echo Plus is for the audiophile and smart home users
If you want voice controls on a speaker that also offers high quality sound then the Echo Plus is the one for you. However, enhanced sound isn’t all that earns this speaker that Plus title. This smart speaker now has a dedicated smarthome controller built-in.
The addition of the ZigBee home hub means that you’ll be able to control smarthome gadgets directly using your voice – so not via Amazon Skills like before. That should mean far easier and more natural controls of smarthome gadgets like lights, heating and cameras.
The ZigBee antenna uses a low-power frequency to speak directly to certain smarthome gadgets. So where you previously had to buy a hub to control your Philips Hue lights, for example, you’ll now be able to do it with the Echo Plus alone.
All that and Echo Plus stays pretty affordable at £140, out now in the UK.
Amazon Echo Spot is for the bedroom
If you like the idea of sitting in your bed decreeing orders to your myriad gadgets, without lifting a finger or moving a toe, the Echo Spot is for you, mi-lord.
The Echo Spot features a circular 2.5-inch display as well as sound and microphones for voice control via Alexa. You can plug this into external speakers or Bluetooth connect them for serious sound too. But for basics like controlling a thermostat or telling your smart kettle to fire up before you do, this smart speaker does it there and then.
The Echo Spot’s screen means you can see things like the weather and news reports, your Nest camera feed, daily calendars and more. Amazon says it will even be able to offer video calling. Ideal for a late night in-bed chat with your partner while they’re in a different time zone.
The Amazon Echo Spot will launch in the US in December 2017 for $130 (£97) and follow to the UK for release in 2018.
Amazon Echo Buttons are for gamers
Physical controls for devices that are designed to be controlled by voice might seem silly at first. Actually these offer a cunning way to turn an Echo device into a gaming machine, for group fun times.
The buttons come in sets of two but can be used in greater number. They allow groups to tap to play games. So imagine a game show where you’re asked a question and rather than all shouting over each other and confusing Alexa, you tap in to submit your answer – just like you’re on TV doing it, kinda.
These will set you back £19 for a pair so could be a good gift idea. Amazon says Trivial Pursuit is coming to the platform soon.
Amazon Echo Connect is for landline phone haters
If the idea of a landline phone makes you feel old as sin, the Amazon Echo Connect is here to reinvigorate your youth. The Connect plugs directly into your landline so you can make and receive phone calls using your voice from anywhere in the room. This works across other Echo devices too, so you can use it for calls anywhere you have an Echo connected.
The Amazon Echo Connect is US only at first where it will launch for $35 (£26). It will then be coming to the UK and Germany in 2018.
Amazon Echo 2017 is for anyone who makes style a priority
Amazon has gone the way of Google and now offers a new updated version of the standard Echo that features customisable covers. But this update goes further than the stylish surface offerings.
The new Echo has been tuned up by Dolby, for better sound quality. It’s also smaller than the previous, now-discontinued, Echo model. Those outer shells can be easily swapped and at launch come with six official options to add to the Echo.
Despite all these upgrades the price has also been dropped, which is absolutely wonderful. The 2017 Amazon Echo is £89, a big drop from the last model at £150.
Check out our full Amazon Echo review.
Amazon Echo Show is for video calls and fashionistas
The Amazon Echo Show was first launched in the US and is now coming to the UK. This features a 7-inch display, camera, Dolby tuned speakers and eight multi-directional microphones. All that is controlled, of course, by the Alexa AI using voice.
The screen and camera mean you can have video calls but also try on clothes, virtually, see connected smart cameras, watch news flashes, weather updates and more. We like the idea of playing music with the lyrics on screen so you can sing along to enhance (or ruin) the song.
The Amazon Echo Show is priced at £200 for the UK. Check out our all-you-need-to-know Echo Show guide for more.
Want Alexa on your TV? Try the Fire TV 4K instead
If you want Alexa in your TV then the Fire TV 4K is a great way to do it. But this goes way beyond just AI extras, you also get 4K resolution and now HDR support too. All that and it now even supports Dolby Atmos sound too.
The Amazon Fire TV 4K is a small box designed to plug into the back of your TV, out of sight – much like a Chormecast, only this one is super powered. This is even priced at a meagre £70, giving you a lot for your money.
You can also get Alexa on your Android phone these days. Lovely stuff.