Amazon has given its default Echo speaker a delightful bump for 2020 – with design, sound and functionality all making significant steps forward. The Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) may offer the most accessible Alexa entry point but this fully-fledged Echo earns its higher price.
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What we love – Brilliant sound, good value for money and ditches the need for an Echo Plus
If you’re considering opting for the Echo over the Echo Dot then it’s likely that sound is a big factor and the fourth generation has made this choice even easier.
Amazon Echo (4th Gen) is a significant improvement over the previous model, with two 0.8-inch tweeters and a 3-inch woofer packed in. This package brings you improved stereo, clearer detail and an impressive level of bass. Even at higher volumes, you won’t be disappointed.
The fourth generation of the Amazon Echo might be the best value version of the smart speaker yet. The new model comes in at the same £89.99 price of the third generation Echo while offering that great new sound on top and a delightful spherical redesign.
The new design is far less imposing than the old cylindrical design, feeling much more like it neatly blends into any room. The placement of the controls is well thought out too, positioned perfectly for selecting a button while resting your palm atop the Echo speaker.
The real added value comes in the form of an Echo Plus feature. In 2020, the Echo Plus has been ditched, with the new Echo offering the integrated Zigbee hub. The Zigbee integration lets you use your Echo as a smart hub hub, negating the need for an additional product like those offered by Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings.
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What we don’t like – Zigbee integration isn’t perfect
While it’s great to see the regular Echo get the key feature of the Echo Plus – the built-in Zigbee hub – it doesn’t work perfectly. Having Zigbee built-in means you can pair your lights, smart switches and more without the need for an extra hub product. However, the Zigbee integration doesn’t allow for things like Philips Hue Scenes and also won’t work with all third-party Zigbee devices.
These caveats certainly make for a less convenient experience. Make sure to check your setup beforehand, as well as any future products you’re considering, for compatibility so you aren’t disappointed.
Amazon Echo (4th Gen) is comfortably the most fully-featured Alexa smart speaker yet. With greater sound to rival the Google Nest Audio, the tried-and-tested functionality of Alexa, a stylish new design and Zigbee integration, Amazon has nailed its flagship speaker in 2020.
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